About Your First Year

Most of the coursework for the first year is required. In an experience shared by most lawyers, all first-year students must study Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Torts, and Legal Practice. Each first year student is assigned to a letter section of approximately 80 students, and the required first-year curriculum is taught to classes comprised of four letter sections (supersections), e.g. EFGH.

The required program of study is essentially the same for all sections during the fall and winter term of the first year of study. First year students are automatically enrolled in required first year courses during the fall and winter terms of the first year of study. However, during the winter term of the first year, in addition to the required courses, 1L students must take a mandatory elective of 3 to 4 credits. 1L students select a mandatory elective from a prescribed list of courses as part of winter term course bidding and registration which occurs late in the fall term.

About Your Second and Third Years

After the first year of law study, upper-level students design individual upper-class academic programs by selecting from a wide array of possibilities to complement any additional courses required to meet degree requirements. Courses that satisfy specific degree requirements are identified in the registration and course selection materials each term. The upper-level academic program may include a mix of law classes, non-law classes, dual degree or certificate programs, independent research, and more.

In designing their academic programs, upper-level students should give priority to courses that meet upper-level degree requirements.

To earn a JD degree at Michigan Law, in addition to the required first year courses, students must complete

  1. At least one course of two or more credits with a rigorous writing component
  2. One international or comparative law course of two credits or more
  3. One statutory or regulatory course of 3 credits or more.
  4. One course of two credits or more in professional responsibility
  5. At least two credit hours of experiential learning.

The courses that fulfill each of the degree requirements are designated as such in the course selection and registration materials each term. 

Policy for Determining Credit Hours for Coursework 

Credits for law school courses are assigned in accordance with Standard 310(b) of the American Bar Association (ABA) Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools. 

A “credit hour” is an amount of work that reasonably approximates not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and two hours of out-of-class student work per week for 15 weeks (including one week for final exams) or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time. An equivalent amount of work is required for other academic activities including simulation courses, field placement, clinical, co-curricular, and other academic work.

The ABA has determined that, for purposes of the in-class requirement, a 50-minute session qualifies as an “hour.” For purposes of the out-of-class requirement, however, ordinary 60-minute hours are necessary. 

The Associate Dean for Academic Programming is responsible for monitoring the amount of credit awarded for each course and verifying by review of course syllabi and meeting times and, through discussions with faculty members, that the amount of credit awarded for each class is consistent with ABA policy.

Bar Exams

Students are also expected to become familiar with the bar examination eligibility and bar association membership requirements in any individual state bar jurisdiction which may be of interest to them.

Most jurisdictions require candidates for a bar examination or for bar admission to complete a specific course of legal study or specific courses to be eligible to sit for a bar examination or gain bar admission. Consult the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements to learn more about jurisdiction-specific bar exam eligibility and bar admission requirements.

Be sure that your coursework meets the bar examination and bar admission requirements of your desired jurisdiction.

Guide to Bar Admission Requirements

Preparing for the Bar Exam