In 1999, the Seattle University School of Law faculty approved a reorganization of the upper-division curriculum into focus areas based on subject matter. Each focus area is comprised of groups of related substantive and skills courses; students who wish to complete a focus area take from 15 to 25 credits in their chosen area, which includes prerequisite, foundational, skills, and elective courses. Students who choose to pursue a focus area still receive an excellent general legal education, but they also receive an integrated educational experience in a particular area of the law, in which doctrine can be explored in greater depth and lawyering skills learned in context and in a logical order. The 14 focus areas are as follows:
Business Law, Civil Advocacy, Commercial Law, Criminal Law & Practice, Labor & Employment Law, Estate Planning, Family & Juvenile Law, Health Law, Intellectual Property, International Law, Environmental, Natural Resource, Land Use, Law and Social Inequality, Real Estate Law and Taxation Law.
The upper-division focus area curriculum is designed to meet several objectives:
- The focus-area curriculum provides students with an integrated educational experience containing a body of knowledge and lawyering skills that demonstrate the interrelationships of different legal subjects and the ways in which they build on one another. This is accomplished through a package of required foundational courses, skills courses, and electives within a particular subject area. We expect that students will be able to transfer the skills that they learn through focusing on one area to other areas they will encounter in practice.
- Focus areas allow students to plan their upper-division curriculum in a coherent manner, through the use of the written materials used and by consulting with faculty who teach in their chosen focus area.
- Faculty is better able to advise students with regard to course selection and career paths.
- Faculty within focus areas meets to discuss new course offerings, revision of courses, connections with other areas, etc. The quality of the legal education the School of Law provides is enhanced through greater thought and better planning by faculty and administration.