The Catholic University of America
Core Curriculum

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The first-year curriculum, which is prescribed for all students, is designed to develop the basic analytic skills that characterize the able lawyer and to give students a fundamental understanding of the law.

The required set of courses for first-year students combines key doctrinal content with integrated learning experiences. The day-division curriculum consists of seven required courses totaling 29 credit hours. Evening-division students are required to complete the same basic courses within the first two years of their law school career.


Civil Procedure (5 hrs.)

This course introduces students to the judicial system and the basic problems and concepts involved in the adjudication of civil cases. The litigation process from jurisdiction through appellate review is covered. Topics include jurisdiction, pleadings, pretrial motions, discovery, pretrial conferences, jury trial, post-trial motions, finality of judgments, and appellate review. Exercises that emphasize the skills and values of civil litigation are integrated throughout the course to contextualize the doctrinal material and enhance student learning.  

Constitutional Law I (3 hrs.)

A course comprising a study of the American constitutional system, emphasizing sources, limits, and modes of exercise of federal and Supreme Court jurisdiction; the allocation of powers between the federal government and the states; the separation of powers among the coordinate branches of the federal government.

Contracts (6 hrs.)

A study of the fundamental principles of contract law, as expressed in the common law, Article Two of the Uniform Commercial Code, and the Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. Topics include: formation; defenses to enforceability; parole evidence; performance, breach, and discharge; remedies; and third party rights. The course incorporates exercises designed to teach practical skills relevant to the course doctrine, including negotiating and drafting.  In addition, the course is designed to teach analysis of common law and statutes and the application of law to factual situations

Criminal Law (3 hrs.)

The course covers the elements of criminal conduct in general and of specific crimes, which may include rape, the various forms of homicide, drug and theft offenses, anticipatory offenses, group criminality, and both common law and statutory defenses including insanity, provocation, and duress.

Lawyering Skills (4 hrs. — 2 hrs. each semester)

In the first semester, students develop analytical skills, a clear and effective writing style, and the ability to research, through drafting office memoranda. In the second semester, students learn advocacy skills through the writing of a memorandum in support of a motion, development of an appellate brief and oral argument before a panel of attorney judges.

Property (4 hrs.)

This is the basic course in property. It considers such topics as the nature of “property,” property “interests,” and property as an institution in contemporary society; problems in possession; the historical development of land law and its manifestation in the law of landlord and tenant; and conveyancing.

Torts (4 hrs.)

A study of the noncontractual obligations that an individual in society owes to others according to the common law and statutes.Emphasis is placed on intentional acts violating legally protected interests, such as assault, battery, and false imprisonment; negligent conduct resulting in injury; causation; traditional forms of liability without fault and the more recent development of strict liability for defective products.