Juris Doctor (J.D.) Degree Program
Term I — First Year
- Introduction to Law, Legal Analysis, and Legal Research (4 units)
Introduction to the basic concepts of law and legal analysis, and the history of the American system of jurisprudence and juristic theory that originated from, and was developed and formulated through, the common law of England, and is now recognized as an organic part of the jurisprudence of most of the United States.
- Contracts (6 units)
A study of the promissory agreements that exist between two or more persons or entities and that create, modify, or terminate legal relationships. The different classifications of such agreements and the requisite elements of each will be distinguished.
- Criminal Law (4 units)
A study of key aspects of criminal law including how the criminal process works; common law origins of criminal law and statutory modifications; an introductory overview of basic criminal procedure to enable understanding of criminal law; the fundamental bases of substantive criminal law, including definitions of criminal conduct, principles and scope of criminal liability and defenses to liability; classification of crimes; and elements of major crimes.
- Torts (6 units)
An analysis of the historical development and purposes of tort law, and analysis of the major categories of torts: intentional, negligent, and strict liability. Tort injuries are covered from causation through remedy for cases involving injuries to person, including physical and emotional harm and harm to reputation, and injuries to property, including both real and personal property. Discussion is included for specific topics such as defamation of character, invasion of privacy, misrepresentation, products liability, and modern torts such as wrongful death.
Term II — Second Year
- Business Associations (6 units)
A study of the various structures for businesses. Agency law is covered, including creation of an agency, the master and servant relationship, and the authority and duties of both agent and principal, including the fiduciary responsibilities. Partnerships, from creation through winding up, and the rights, duties, and liabilities of partners are also covered. Finally, formation and types of corporations are covered, as well as the rights and duties of directors, shareholders and corporate officers. Attention is given to court made legal principles and to the rapidly expanding impact of federal regulation of corporations and securities.
- Criminal Procedure (4 units)
A course that covers the legal methods for apprehending persons accused of committing criminal acts. The rights of those accused of crimes are covered, along with methods of protecting those rights and remedies for violations. The criminal process from commission of a crime and apprehension through the various phases of adjudication are also covered.
- Real Property (6 units)
A study of the body of law relating to land and improvements thereon; as distinguished from movable personal property. The English Common Law as it relates to real property will be emphasized.
- Remedies (4 units)
A study of the remedies available for tort and contract matters, including both legal and equitable remedies. Specific legal remedies for various injuries and contract breaches and computation of damages is included. Additionally, analysis of equitable remedies will equip the student to understand the phases and requirements for the imposition of injunctions.
Term III — Third Year
- Civil Procedure (6 units)
A survey of the civil process that covers each step from initial complaint through appeals. Personal and subject matter jurisdiction are thoroughly covered, and venue and transfer rules are presented. The Erie Doctrine, its development, and its applicability in modern civil actions is covered. Also addressed are the handling of multiple claims and parties, including class actions. Finally, procedural trial issues such as discovery methods, trial process, appellate review and its limitations, and the effects of the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel are covered.
- Constitutional Law (6 units)
A study of a wide range of topics drawn from the United States Constitution, beginning with the powers of the various branches of government and the concept of separation of powers. Authority to hear cases, including the Case and Controversy Doctrine are presented, as is the division of powers between the federal government and the states. The power of the government to regulate economic and personal interests is thoroughly covered, including the levels of protection from interference with personal interests, equal protection, and due process. Finally, due process and procedure, the concept of state action, and the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion are thoroughly covered.
- Evidence (4 units)
A study of the importance of getting evidence admitted and on the trial record, and the process by which this is accomplished. First, the requirements related to relevance are introduced, then the reasons why relevant evidence may be excluded, including a thorough presentation of the hearsay rules and exceptions. Special evidentiary rules such as confidentiality of certain communications and privileges are explained. Both testamentary and documentary evidence are covered, including admissibility requirements for both.
- Professional Responsibility (Ethics) (4 units)
A study of the role and duties of a lawyer, including the duty to the court, to the client, and to society. Regulation of attorneys’ conduct and disciplinary action are covered, including the varying requirements of the Model Rules and Model Code. Both aspirational goals of conduct and disciplinary rules are presented. The rules and practical application of the duty of confidentiality, potential and actual conflicts of interest, advertising and solicitation, and other key aspects of ethical obligations will be covered. Additionally, judicial ethics will be addressed.
Term IV — Fourth Year
- Administrative Law (5 units)
A study of the history and creation of administrative agencies, generally via legislative action. Control of administrative agencies is considered, with attention to the competing interests and powers of the executive and legislative governmental branches, as well as to the monitoring and direction by the judicial branch. Formal and informal administrative actions are studied, focusing on rulemaking and administrative adjudication. Finally, investigation and discovery of administrative agency action and challenges to such actions are covered.
- Community Property (3 units)
An overview of the ways ownership of property by married persons is classified, followed by consideration of how the various classifications affect the disposition of property both upon dissolution and death. Presumptions related to classification of property are covered, as are exceptions to those presumptions. Finally, selected provisions of the California codes related to community property are reviewed.
- Practical Skills Elective (6 units)
Fourth year students take one of the following four elective courses: Legal Document Drafting, Legal Practice, Professional Skills, or Trial and Appellate Advocacy.
- Wills, Trusts, and Estates (6 units)
This course is a study of the laws related to succession of property upon death of the owner. Various means of passing property to those designated by the property owner are covered, including gifts during life as well as upon death. Wills, intestate succession, and trusts are the primary focus.
Elective courses are for third and fourth year students, and for transfer students who have already completed all or most of the NWCU standard curriculum but need additional courses to meet graduation requirements.
- Advanced Legal Research (6 units)
This course focuses on learning and practicing advanced legal research methods for scholarly legal writing, through the use of primary and secondary resources available online or through physical law libraries. Students write a law journal style paper on a topic of interest to them, using the research skills they have developed.
- Legal Document Drafting (6 units)
The course exposes students to basic legal document drafting in three key modes: litigating, informing and persuading, and rule-making. Drafting a broad range of documents, students will learn techniques applicable to the most common legal documents. Students will draft a complaint, motion, trial brief, statute revision, contract, and more. Additionally, students will consider the effect their writing style has upon the documents they draft, and they will learn how legal writing has affected case law.
- Legal Practice Internship (6 units)
The primary focus of the course is an internship, arranged by the student and approved by the school, which provides an opportunity for students to gain practical experience in law by working in a law office or court, under the supervision of a practicing attorney or a sitting judge. Students will complete several assignments related to the internship which encourage reflection and understanding of the skills required for a career in law. Additionally students will study proper handling of client funds, and will read a book related to law, selected from an approved list.
- Medical Jurisprudence (4 units)
A survey course covering health law issues including health care quality, access, organization, finance, and bioethics. The dynamic and complex relationship between the four themes of cost, quality, access, and choice are explored through case law and ongoing health reform public debate.
- Military Law (4 units)
A survey of the regulations for the governing of armed forces, particularly that branch of the law which respects military discipline and the government of persons employed in the military service of the United States.
- Philosophy of Law (4 units)
A study of the nature of law, persuasion, and legal arguments, primarily through cases that illustrate the concepts covered. Both traditional and contemporary philosophies of law are studied, including natural law, positivism, legal realism, economic legal theory, critical race theory, feminist legal theory, international law, and more.
- Professional Skills (6 units)
This course provides advanced law students the opportunity to consider what is required in setting up and maintaining a law practice, including both business management skills and lawyering skills such as client intake, discovery and case planning, and advocating for and providing legal counsel to clients. Students will handle a fictitious legal matter during the second half of the term, giving them an opportunity to work with the kinds of materials presented to lawyers in practice.