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Information & Requirements

First Year
Years Two and Three
Upper Level/Paris Courses

Cornell Law School's curriculum reflects a range of ideas current in American legal education - critical legal theory, feminist theory, law and economics - and students are free to choose electives in these and other subjects after mastering the fundamentals. Students also have the option to take as many as 12 credits outside the law school at Cornell University's five other professional and graduate schools.

First Year

First-year students learn legal reasoning skills in seven required courses: Civil Procedure, Contracts, Constitutional Law, Property, Torts, Criminal Law, and Legal Methods. These first year courses are taught by the distinguished Law School faculty and many students rave about the high quality of their professors. Most first-year courses have about 60 to 90 students in a class, but all first-year students have at least one class with no more than 30 students. This smaller class size fosters discussion, enables students and the professor to become well-acquainted.

Clear thinking, proficient writing, and forceful argumentation are emphasized in the first-year Legal Methods course. Class assignments include drafting of opinion letters, writing a brief, and composing a substantial memorandum of law. Students become familiar with reference materials that organize, index, and explain the law such as the major databases Lexis and Westlaw, the journal collections and indexes Nexis and Dialog, nd extensive Internet resources. Moot Court is an integral part of the course, and students especially adept at researching and writing briefs and defending them orally go on to participate in extracurricular competitions. Legal Methods is taught in small sections of 35 students which allows for frequent writing exercises and faculty feedback.

Years Two and Three

Eighty-four credit hours are required for the Doctor of Law (J.D.) degree. After the first year, no specific courses are required, although students must fulfill general requirements in the areas of ethics and advanced writing by taking courses in those subject areas.

Second- and third-year students choose from a wide range of electives. Offerings are broad by any standard; for a law school as small as Cornell, they are remarkable. Recent course offerings included 151 classes: seven required courses for first-year students, 70 upper-level electives, 58 problem courses and seminars, and 16 clinical courses and externships. Most upper-level classes have 25 to 50 students, with seminars and clinical courses limited to 16.

Upper-level and Paris Institute Courses

Course offerings vary in response to the needs, interests, and availability of students and faculty. Not all listed courses are taught on a regular basis, and those that are offered by visiting faculty members are not necessarily listed here. For course descriptions of some of the classes offered at Cornell Law, please go to Curriculum.

Administrative Law
Advanced Civil Procedure
Alternative Dispute Resolution
American Indian Law
American Legal History: From the Revolution to the Civil War
Antitrust Law
Banking Law and Regulation
Business Combinations
Children, Parents, and the State
Civil Rights Legislation
Comparative Labor and Employment Law
Comparative Law
Conflict of Laws
Constitutional Law II: The First Amendment
Constitutional Remedies
Corporate Finance
Criminal Procedure
Current Topics at the Crossroads of Law and Finance
Death Penalty in America: A Survey
Employment Law
Entertainment Law
Environmental Law
Estate and Gift Taxation
European Union Law
Family Law
Federal Courts
Federal Income Taxation
Feminist Legal Theory
Feminist Political Thought
Free Speech and Minority Rights
French Law
History of the Common Law
Intellectual Property
International Business Transactions
International Commercial Arbitration
International Human Rights
International Litigation
International Protection of Intellectual Property
International Taxation
Introductory Jurisprudence
Issues in Professional and Organizational Ethics: Secrecy and Whistle-Blowing
Japanese Business Law
Labor Law
Law and Medicine
Law and Social Change
Law and Violence Against Women
Lawyers and Clients
Legal Aspects of Foreign Investment in Developing Countries
Media Law
Mergers and Acquisitions
Patent and Trademark Law
Payment Systems
Principles of American Legal Writing
Private Justice: Arbitration and Other
Forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution
Products Liability
Professional Responsibility
Public International Law
Roman Law and Modern Civil Law Systems
Secured Transactions
Securities Regulation
Sex Discrimination and the Law
Social and Cognitive Psychology for Lawyers
Social Security Law: Work, Families, and Administrative Justice
Sports Law
Statistics and the Law
Taxation and Business Planning
Taxation of Corporations and Shareholders
Trial Advocacy
Trusts and Estates
U.S. and European Union Antitrust Law
Problem Courses, Seminars, and Clinical Courses
Advanced Criminal Procedure
Post-Conviction Remedies
Advanced Legal Research
African Americans and the Supreme Court
American Legal Theory
Appellate Advocacy
Biblical Law
Capital Punishment Clinic
Capital Trial Clinic
Children and the Law
Civil Rights in Housing: Theory and Practice
Class Actions, Mass Torts, and Procedural Meltdown
The Common Law and African Legal Systems
Comparative Legal Methods
Constitutional Law and Political Theory
Constitutionalism and Social Progress
Corruption Control
Critical Race Theory
Dispute Resolution Techniques
Election Law and the Law of Campaign Finance
Empirical Studies of the Legal System
Employment Discrimination
Ethnic Conflict and International Law
European Private Law
European Union Law
Family Law
Family Wealth Transfers
Federal Litigation
Foundations of Criminal Law
Government Benefits Clinic
Health Care Reform
Immigration and Refugee Law
International Criminal Law
International Energy Transactions
Introduction to French Law
Issues in Tort Law
Judicial Externship
Juvenile Justice Seminar
Labor Law Theory and Policy
Law and Economics
Law and Higher Education
Law and Mental Health
Law Guardian Externship
Law, Science, and Technology
Law Through Literature
Legal Aid Clinic
Legal Aspects of Commercial Real Estate Development
Legislative Externship
Managed Care
Melville and the Law
National Security Law
Neighborhood Legal Services Externship
Organized-Crime Control
Origins of English and American Law
The Religion Clause of the First Amendment
Reproductive Issues Seminar
Selected Business Transactions
Separation of Powers
Sexuality, Gender, and Law
Small Business Clinic
Sovereignty, Self-Determination, and Secession
The Supreme Court and the Death Penalty
Tax Policy
Theories of Property
United Nations, Elections, and Human Rights
Voting and Political Participation
Women and the Law Clinic
Youth Law Clinic