The study of law requires a sound undergraduate education. 

This education should give students perception and skill in the use of the English language, in both expression and comprehension, and insight into (rather than merely information about) society’s institutions and values. A sound undergraduate education should also convey the power to think clearly, carefully, and independently, as well as convey an understanding of people and human relations. The prelaw student should be concerned with intellectual and personal development in order to bring a disciplined, inquiring mind and a stable, well-integrated personality to the study of law.

There is no one best prelaw curriculum. The prospective law student can develop his or her intellect satisfactorily in nearly any undergraduate major. The student should concentrate on acquiring finely honed writing skills, a command of the English language, and analytical thinking skills.

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First Year Curriulum

The Emory Law faculty has identified several major goals of the first-year program including:

  1. development of analytical skills and ability to read and understand cases statutory materials;
  2. practice in oral skills and argument;
  3. introduction to legal research and drafting;
  4. development of perspective and appreciation for historical context; and
  5. basic substantive law coverage as the foundation for upper-level courses.

Small sections and individual attention are features of first-year instruction at Emory. Each first-year student takes the research, writing and appellate advocacy course from a full-time instructor in a section of 35 students. In the fall term, first-year students take one substantive course (usually Legislation and Regulation) in a section of approximately 35 students. This makes Emory distinctive among many other law schools, which frequently have class sizes of one hundred or more. Instruction is based primarily on the case method, with an emphasis on developing analytical thinking. The first-year courses, when mastered together, acquaint students with how the law develops through judicial decision and the interpretation of statutes. These courses furnish the foundation on which students build a sound legal education. The research, writing and appellate advocacy course helps students develop skills in the research needed for solutions of legal problems and in the effective written and oral presentation of their solutions.

Prescribed First-Year Courses

Fall Semester
Civil Procedure - 4 hrs.
Legislation and Regulation - 2 hrs.
Contracts - 4 hrs.
Torts - 4 hrs.
Research Writing and Appellate Advocacy - 2 hrs.
Total 16 hrs

Spring Semester
Criminal Law - 3 hrs.
Property - 4 hrs.
Constitutional Law I - 4 hrs.
Research Writing and Appellate Advocacy - 2 hrs.
Total 16 or 17 hrs       Elective = 3 or 4 hrs

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Second- and Third-Year Curriculum

With few exceptions, all courses are elective after the first year. All students must successfully complete Evidence (632), Legal Profession (747), and Trial Techniques (671). Each student is required to take Trial Techniques at the end of the second year.

In addition, every student must fulfill the writing requirement prior to graduation. This requirement may be satisfied by successfully completing a seminar or a directed research project approved by a faculty member and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Every student must research a topic in depth, submit drafts of a paper to instructor for revision, and complete a substantial paper on the topic. A minimum grade of C is required to satisfy the writing requirement. Students may also fulfill the writing requirement through production under faculty supervision of a publishable Note or Comment in any of the law school's three journals. All courses described seminars, workshops, or clinical placements are limited-enrollment courses. In addition, some second-year and third-year courses offered during the academic year are subject to enrollment limitations. Summer work can add an additional dimension to classroom studies. Course credit is not available unless the student is working within a program or internship sponsored by another fully approved (ABA-AALS) law school. In such situation, the student should submit a proposal for credit to the School of Law Clinical Committee as soon as he or she is accepted as a participant.

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