Students seeking a law degree must successfully complete courses such as civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and torts. Before entering law school, most law schools require applicants graduate with a four-year degree from an accredited college or university.
Most law school curricula are divided into three years, but the curriculum year in which a law student is studying only designates his total progress. A first-year law student could in fact be attending law school for his second year, but he is still in the first-year portion of the law school curriculum.
The first-year classes required to receive a law degree include all the core courses, such as contract law, criminal law and property law. The first-year curriculum also typically includes legal analysis, legal research and legal writing courses.
The second- and third-year curricula are usually designed to meet the student’s career objectives. Together with his academic adviser, the law student focuses in a specialized area of study, like family law or tax law. Law students may also participate in approved independent study projects as part of their second- and third-year legal studies.
Some law schools, such as the New York University School of Law, do not permit students to study on a part-time basis. All students must complete the required law degree curriculum in approximately three years, which a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester. Only in cases of health issues, family care responsibilities or other personal hardships does NYU consider allowing a student to attend school on a less than full-time basis.