Classes to Take to Become a Lawyer: Law School Curriculum Overview
There are many different areas of law, and institutions generally offer programs in their own specialties. However, most students take basic courses introducing them to legal reasoning, case analysis and legal institutions. Depending on the school, students may choose a particular emphasis, such as environmental or criminal law. This article explores basic and elective courses found in law schools.
Criminal Law Course
This course considers the general themes and principles of criminal law. Coursework addresses the concepts of criminal intent, causation, action, result and justification. Specific cases are presented, usually on the topics of insanity, defense, conspiracy and the legal treatment of rape and homicide. Major problems and questions in criminal law are explored, including moral judgment, psychological impairment, blameworthiness and punishment.
Basic Constitutional Law Course
This course provides a foundation for public law and specialized constitutional law courses. Students learn about the formation and theory of the U.S. Constitution, its history and amendments during the past 200 years and its political and legal significance. Also covered are limits on state authority, separation of powers, the role of the judiciary as the guardian of constitutional rights and the concept of checks and balances in the U.S. government.
Civil Litigation Procedure Course
Students are introduced to the federal rules of civil process and procedure from the initiation of a lawsuit through to court judgment. Certain recurring problems in civil actions are studied, along with the history of civil actions in the United States. Rules of evidence and enforcement of state and federal guidelines in civil courts are examined.
Environmental Law Course
Students learn about different strategies that may be used to implement governmental regulation for environmental protection. Specific laws studied include the Superfund and the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. The course also addresses common law, information-based strategies, environmental impact statements, marketable permits and emission taxes as mechanisms for environmental protection. Legislation, such as land use regulation, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act may also be covered, in addition to laws on climate change.
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