First Year Law School Curriculum

What classes do 1Ls take?
Tags: class, class prep, law school
Apr 2, 2023

What law students learn during 1L

The first year of law school is a foundational period during which students learn the fundamental principles of legal analysis, reasoning, and writing. While the exact curriculum can vary between law schools, there are certain core subjects that are taught at nearly every law school during the first year.

  1. Civil Procedure (Civ Pro)
  2. Contracts
  3. Torts
  4. Criminal Law (Crim)
  5. Legal Research and Writing (LRW, AKA Legal Methods)
  6. Property
  7. Constitutional Law (Con Law)

Other courses that are often included in 1L Curriculum

  1. Legislation and Regulation (Leg Reg)
  2. Legal Ethics

What is taught in the first year curriculum at law school

Civil Procedure (often called Civ Pro)

Civil Procedure is a required course in most law schools, and it teaches students how to navigate the civil justice system. Students will learn the basic steps in civil litigation, including jurisdiction, pleadings, discovery, motion practice, and trial.


Contracts is another required course that covers the law of agreements between individuals and entities. Students will learn how to read and interpret contracts, how to negotiate the terms of a contract, and how to resolve disputes that arise in the context of contractual relationships.


Torts is the study of civil wrongs, such as negligence, intentional torts, and strict liability. Students will learn how to identify and analyze potential tort claims, how to evaluate the merits of a tort case, and how to apply legal principles to specific fact patterns.

Criminal Law (often called Crim)

Criminal Law covers the basic principles of criminal liability and punishment. Students will learn about the different categories of criminal offenses, the elements of a criminal offense, and the defenses to criminal charges.

Legal Research and Writing (LRW) or Legal Methods

Legal Research and Writing or Legal Methods is a foundational course that teaches students how to research legal issues and write effective legal documents. Students will learn how to use legal research tools, such as Westlaw and LexisNexis, how to read and analyze legal sources, and how to write persuasive legal documents, such as briefs and memos.

Real Property (often just called Property)

Property is the study of the legal rights and obligations associated with real and personal property. Students will learn about the different forms of real property ownership, how real property rights can be transferred, and how real property disputes are resolved.

Constitutional Law (often called Con Law)

Constitutional Law covers the basic principles of the United States Constitution and its interpretation by the Supreme Court. Students will learn about the structure of the federal government, the powers of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and the basic principles of individual rights and liberties.

and the extra courses

Legislation and Regulation (often called Leg Reg)

Leg Reg is a course that teaches you about how laws are made by the government and different agencies. You'll learn about how Congress makes laws and how those laws are interpreted. You'll also learn about administrative agencies, which are groups that help enforce laws, and how they work. The course will focus on rulemaking, which is how agencies make specific rules based on the laws passed by Congress. Finally, you'll learn about how the courts review and interpret the actions taken by these agencies.

Legal Ethics (it's law school so it's usually just called Ethics)

Legal Ethics is a required course that teaches students about the ethical responsibilities of lawyers. Students will learn about the rules of professional conduct, conflicts of interest, client confidentiality, and the lawyer's duty to the court.

Other things that are part of the first year curriculum at law school

In addition to these core (and often mandatory) courses, some law schools may also offer elective courses that cover a range of legal topics, such as corporate law, intellectual property, immigration law, or environmental law. Elective courses can provide students with the opportunity to explore areas of law that are of particular interest to them and to develop specialized knowledge and skills.

The other categories of first year 'curriculum' are student activities, clinics, and social life

Student Activities for First Years at Law School

At some schools, 1Ls are limited in what activities they can join. For example, there are no first year law students on Harvard Law Review. In fact, students can't even apply until the very end of 1L spring when they apply/compete in an annual competition called "Write-On."

Law school offers a wide range of extracurricular activities and organizations for students to get involved in outside of the classroom. Here are some of the most common law school organizations you might encounter during 1L or after:

Law Review

Law Review is an academic journal that publishes articles, notes, and comments on legal issues. Joining Law Review is a great opportunity for students to hone their legal research and writing skills, and gain experience in publishing.

Moot Court

Moot Court is a simulated court competition in which students argue hypothetical legal cases before a panel of judges. Participating in Moot Court can help students develop their legal analysis and oral advocacy skills.

Trial Advocacy

Trial Advocacy is a program that teaches students the skills and strategies necessary for trial practice. Students who participate in Trial Advocacy programs often have the opportunity to participate in mock trials and gain experience in trial practice.

Student Bar Association

The Student Bar Association is a student-run organization that advocates for the interests of law students. The SBA also organizes social and professional events, and provides resources and support for law students.

Pro Bono and Public Interest Organizations

Pro Bono and Public Interest Organizations provide students with opportunities to engage in community service and social justice work. These organizations often partner with local non-profits, legal aid organizations, and government agencies to provide legal services to underserved populations.

Legal Fraternities and Societies

Legal fraternities and societies are social organizations for law students that provide networking opportunities, mentorship, and professional development resources. Joining a legal fraternity or society can be a great way to connect with other law students and legal professionals. Federalist Society (Fed Soc) and American Constitution Society (ACS) are the two most popular legal societies.

Specialty Practice Organizations

Specialty Practice Organizations focus on specific areas of law, such as intellectual property, environmental law, or health law. These organizations provide students with opportunities to learn about and network within their chosen field of interest.

Affinity Groups and Organizations

Law schools typically have a large number of affinity or identity based associations which provide a great opportunity for socializing and networking. Some examples of identity groups include: Women's Law Association, Black Law Students Association, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Hispanic Law Students Association, LGBTQ+ Law Students Association. Additionally, some law schools will have groups focused on niche legal topics such as Animal Rights Law Association.

These groups vary at every law school. You can usually learn more on a school's website and once students' are enrolled there will usually be a 'club fair' where students can see booths that each group on campus will put together to get membership.

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Windsor MIT '22, Harvard College Advisor

I am the half of LSD that didn't take the LSAT, or go to law school (Sorry about that). But I did go to MIT business school while surrounded by law students and lawyers, so I am somewhat qualified to talk about the intricacies of law school apps and finances.

Windsor (the dog) didn't write this but he WAS a Resident Tutor and career advisor at Harvard College with me, so deserves some credit.


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Running for public office
D or R?
That makes it a lot closer, but I'd still be a little biased towards Texas. The local connections you make there will be more helpful than the national ones you'd make at Georgetown.
politics is very much a local thing still.
Very true! I'm kind of thinking the same thing. Thank you so much. I appreciate it and it really does help a lot!!
My answers based on my experience as someone who hires corporate lobbyists in about 20 states, including Texas, though I am not a politician myself.
let's just put it this way, going to law school in Texas can Never be used again you in Texas - going to Georgetown could
Haha, I have definitely considered that possiblity!
and as you rightly say, connections are critical. Do as many politicians favors as you can. Get in and start volunteering for campaigns etc.
Will do. I'm only just beginning to but that only becomes more and more apparent the more I do.
Also consider small donations to candidates you really like. It does make a difference. Look at it as an investment in your future career.
Try and get really involved at the state level first. State assemblies are the best place to make connections. It's what I did and it has been paying pretty big dividends so far for me, thanking God for that
I will. Money in politics really is so essential
It's a lot easier than you would think to get in at this level as well. There is always a ton of work to be done and I'm sure your state rep would love to have an assistant that got into GT law
Thank you catman, I've definitely been leaning that way to start out. Glad to hear you're having success!
Thank you bro, dm me if there's any pointers I can give you
@catman: Thank you, bro. I'll take a pic to remember!
@LamentableGiftedBeetle: Also thanks again to you and your dad!
if i have more than average p/f grades due to covid + going abroad one semester will it be a big problem? nyu for example on lsac states they take into account ratio of p/f to graded courses though everyone knows abt the bot on lawadmissions that says p/f wont have any impact so not sure how to feel
It would be a lot better to run for politics in Texas, Texas has the best campaign finance laws in the country, as in it has none
if you make one good connection they can fund your entire campaign as an outsider/ anti establishment
That's how Ted Cruz got AG, he had a big donor who gave him a million dollars, and when he got mad that the press was chastising him for supported a republican as a gay man, he gave him another million, I know you're a D but just giving an example
I've actually looked, many outsiders last cycle in the Texas state house had more personal donors than special interests
@onetimesignin: That's very good advice. Based on everything I've learned so far, it definitely appears that would come in handy
Fool is I for giving advice to a democrat as I am a republican, but we're all in this together, lol
Only issued you'd run into out of state is the residency requirments, state house is easiest, but the requirments for senate and governor are increasingly more stringent in terms of length of residency
Yes, that's also something I have been thinking about as well!
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