Curriculum

Seattle University School of Law is one of the nation's most innovative and respected law schools, known for training outstanding lawyers who are leaders for a just and humane world.  The law school's commitment to academic distinction is grounded in its Jesuit Catholic tradition - one that encourages open inquiry, thoughtful reflection and concern for personal growth.  Innovation, creativity and technological sophistication characterize our rigorous educational program, which prepares our graduates for a wide range of successful and rewarding careers in law, business and public service.

The curriculum is designed with an eye to the future, and enables students to develop the intellectual abilities and practical skills necessary for a wide range of career options - whether they choose to enter solo- or large-firm practices, serve as government or public interest lawyers, or use their legal educations to enhance civic leadership or business careers.  Our nationally prominent faculty and rich curriculum prepare our graduates for competent and ethical practice in a global and highly complex society.

Students may pursue their legal education through either the Full-Time Program or Part-Time Program, each of which offers students flexible scheduling options including a robust summer program that permits students to accelerate the completion of their studies or lighten their class load during the academic year.

Full-time Program

Full-time students devote substantially all of their time during the academic year to their law studies.  The full-time program is six semesters in length; classes meet between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., although full-time students may take evening courses on a space-available basis after their first year.  Students in the full-time program enroll in 12-16 credits per semester, and most graduate within 3 years.

Part-time Program

Seattle University School of Law is the only law school in Washington to offer a part-time program. The evening program provides the same quality of instruction and holds students to the same standards of performance as in the full-time program. The part-time option is valuable for students wishing to accommodate significant work, family or other obligations. Part-time students begin their legal studies by taking criminal law in the summer, followed by civil procedure, contracts, legal research and writing, and property during the academic year, and then torts in the second summer. In addition, part-time students are eligible, but not required, to take an elective course in the Spring of their 1L year. Thus, part-time students can complete the entire first-year curriculum in 15 months of study. Students in the part-time program enroll in 8-11 credits per semester and 4-6 credits in the summer terms, and most graduate within 3 ½ years. Although evening courses are offered beginning at 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, part-time students who have sufficient flexibility in their schedules may enroll in day courses on a space-available basis after their first year.

First-Year Curriculum

First-year courses provide the foundation for students' education and careers. Accordingly, the law school exposes first year students to essential legal concepts and principles and challenges students to develop critical skills in legal reasoning and analysis.  All first-year students take year-long courses in Contracts, Torts, and Legal Research and Writing, and one-semester courses in Civil Procedure, Property and Criminal Law. During their spring semester, first-year students also experience a legal practice setting through our innovative Introduction to Practice course. In the Introduction to Practice course, students apply fundamental legal principles learned over the first year, but in a very "hands-on" manner.  The course allows students to go beyond bare knowledge by combining their first year insights with both analytical and communication skills honed during the first year, and newly learned fundamental lawyering or "practical" skills such as interviewing, problem-solving, collaboration, and reflection.  Through this curriculum, students gain insights into how they might want to focus their remaining time in law school-while simultaneously emerging from their first year with the core knowledge and skills necessary for so many employment and public service opportunities in which students often engage during the summer before their second year of law school. 

Upper Division Curriculum

Students are required to take constitutional law and legal writing II in their second year, and evidence, professional responsibility, and a professional skills course prior to graduation.  Approximately 45 of the 90 credits required for graduation are elective, which gives students a great deal of flexibility to tailor their curricula to their own interests and career goals.

A distinctive feature of the law school's course of study is the Focus Area Curriculum, which allows students to select a primary area of interest and expand that interest by enrolling in courses that naturally build upon one another.  This is an integrated educational experience in which students may explore doctrine in-depth and learn lawyering skills in context and in logical order.  Focus areas are not mandatory, but if students so choose, they can concentrate in business law; civil advocacy; commercial law; criminal law and practice; environmental, natural resource and land use; estate planning; family law, health law; inequality and poverty law; intellectual property; international law; labor and employment law; real estate law; or taxation.

In addition to the focus areas, the upper division curriculum incorporates a wide-ranging set of offerings such as elective writing courses taught under the auspices of our nationally-ranked Legal Writing Program and international law courses offered through our International and Comparative Law Programs, all of which serve to equip students to enter a profession that is increasingly global and diverse.  While it is essential that lawyers learn the essential substantive knowledge and analytical skills that are the hallmark of the profession, they are also called upon every day to craft creative solutions to problems, work collaboratively with others, use counseling, negotiation and mediation skills to seek just resolution of disputes, and communicate effectively with lawyers, non-lawyers and those within other legal traditions.  To this end, the law school offers numerous opportunities for students to hone their skills through courses in the Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic, Externship Program, Trial Advocacy Program, and labs and simulated skills offerings.  We also partner with other colleges and schools within Seattle University to offer interdisciplinary joint degree programs in business, public administration, and sports administration and leadership.

Student with Paper and Computer