Given the range and number of course offerings available at the School of Law and the fact that approximately half of your law school credits are elective credits, choosing upper division courses and designing a curriculum that suits you can be a challenging (and exciting) prospect. We provide a number of resources to assist you, including first-year and upper-division faculty advisors, descriptions of course offerings, focus area information, and curriculum information sessions. It is important to seek advice from faculty and other members of the SU community (e.g., the Center for Professional Development, Access to Justice Institute, Academic Resource Center, Office of Student Affairs) to gather input into the courses and co-curricular and extra-curricular activities that best fit with your career interests and goals. In addition, Donna Claxton Deming, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, and Annette Clark, Vice Dean, are always available to answer your questions about our course offerings and to assist in curriculum planning. Also, visit Academic Advising's multimedia library to view related videos.
First-year Faculty Advisors
First-year students are assigned a faculty advisor on the basis of Legal Writing I section. Your faculty advisor will be one of your first year teachers, and he/she will meet with you at least once each semester of your first year in either a large-group (15 students) or small-group setting. First-year faculty advisors are also available to meet with students one-on-one to answer questions about law school, provide advice on curriculum choices and career pathways, or to point you in the right direction if you have questions that go beyond academic advising. The most important piece of advice we can give you is to take advantage of your faculty advisor; they're here to assist you. You are welcome to stay with your first-year faculty advisor throughout your time in law school, or you can seek out a faculty advisor who has expertise in an area of law that interests you.
Focus Areas/Upper-division Faculty Advisors
Our upper division curriculum is divided into fourteen substantive Focus Areas, each of which has a focus area chair and career and adjunct faculty members who teach within that area. A great deal of information is provided under each focus area regarding career pathways and course sequencing, and students who are interested in a particular focus area are encouraged to call upon faculty who teach in that focus area for curriculum and career advice. You may specifically request to be assigned a faculty advisor in your focus area through the Registrar's Office, or you may seek out that faculty member informally via email or by setting up an appointment to meet.
Academic Advising Days
Each spring semester during the month of April, we hold registration information sessions for 1Ls who will be registering for upper division courses for the first time, as well as information sessions on the focus area curriculum and on our skills offerings (clinic courses, trial advocacy and dispute resolution offerings, and externships). These information sessions are followed by Academic Advising Days. During Academic Advising Days, each faculty member sets aside ten 30-minute advising slots, and over the course of these three days, hundreds of 1L and 2L students utilize this opportunity to meet with faculty members to discuss their curriculum choices for the next academic year.
Course Selection Guidance
We recommend that students planning their upper division curriculum keep the following in mind:
All students are required to take five upper division courses: constitutional law and legal writing II in the second year and professional responsibility, evidence, and a professional skills course prior to graduation.
In many areas, course sequencing is important, so students should look carefully at course descriptions and prerequisites early in their law school careers, and particularly before registering. For example, students interested in business law should consider taking Business Entities in the second year, students interesting in pursuing tax law should take Individual Income Tax in their second year, and students interested in a litigation practice should try to take Evidence in their second year. Students who wish to take a clinic, externship, or other live-client experience should make sure that they have the necessary prerequisites in place. ; In general, the larger survey courses such as administrative law, business entities, constitutional law, evidence, individual income tax, intellectual property, professional responsibility, and trusts and estates are core/foundational courses that frequently operate as prerequisites for more specialized upper division electives. They also tend to be bar-tested subjects.
- Not every course is offered every semester or even every year. Consult the course schedules for courses offered in the upcoming academic year.
All students should take at least some of the courses that are tested on the Washington State Bar Exam (or other exam if you plan to take a bar exam in another state). Contact the Bar Studies Program for information on topics that are tested on the various bar exams.
Students should strive to select a balanced and well-rounded array of courses on a number of different axes: doctrinal knowledge/skills training; public law/private law; domestic law/international and comparative law; transactional/litigation.
A well-rounded legal education includes one or more courses in jurisprudence, legal theory/perspectives, and/or legal history.
- Every student should take at least one course that particularly piques your interest even if it is not clear how or whether it fits into your career plans.