Juris Doctor Program

Brandeis School of Law is fully accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. The J.D. Program requires the completion of 90 semester hours, which can be completed on either a full-time or part-time basis. The full-time program is a three-year course of study for students who are able to devote virtually all of their time to the study of law. The part-time schedule is designed to meet the needs of students who have outside obligations, and is generally completed in four or five years.

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 to remain in good academic standing. All first-year students begin the study of law in the fall semester.

Required First-Year Full-Time Program

The foundation curriculum for first-year, full-time students is prescribed for both the fall and spring semesters. The first-year curriculum for part-time students offers a reduced course load and additional options.

Fall Semester
Lawyering Skills I 3 hours
Contracts I 3 hours
Torts I 3 hours
Property I 3 hours
Criminal Law 3 hours
Total: 15 hours
Spring Semester
Lawyering Skills II 3 hours
Contracts II 3 hours
Torts II 3 hours
Property II 3 hours
Civil Procedure I 3 hours
Total: 15 hours

Required Second-Year Full-Time Program

Fall Semester
Constitutional Law I 3 hours
Civil Procedure II 3 hours
Spring Semester
Constitutional Law II 3 hours

First-Year and Second-Year Course Descriptions

Civil Procedure I and II

Introduction to the law of procedure, including pleading, discovery, motion practice, trials, post-trial and appellate proceedings, jurisdiction, venue, process, multiparty litigation, former adjudication, the law-equity distinction, and choices between state and federal law.

Constitutional Law I and II

Study of the structure of governmental powers in the United States, as defined in its constitution as interpreted by its courts, including the distribution of powers between state and federal governments and, within the federal government, among its legislative, executive and judicial branches.

Contracts I and II

Introduction to basic contract liability, including study of offer and acceptance, consideration, assignments, beneficiaries, joint and several obligations, performance and breach, statute of frauds, illegality and discharge. This course will focus on common law contract principles as well as contract formation and selected performance rules under Article II of the Uniform Commercial Code.

Criminal Law

Introduction to the substantive law of crimes; includes offenses against the person, habitation and occupancy, and property, and other offenses; also questions of responsibility, defenses and imputability.

Lawyering Skills I and II

Practical training in use of a law library and legal materials, preparation of legal memoranda, brief-writing, oral advocacy in a moot court program and other supervised instruction in basic skills. To be completed as directed in the curriculum schedule.

Property I and II

Foundational study of the legal principles governing interests and rights in property, including the right to exclude, adverse possession, leaseholds, estates in land (present, concurrent, future), servitudes, nuisance, land use controls, takings transfer or real property, and mortgages. Some foundational principles could be introduced through a study of other property topics, such as natural resources, housing or intellectual property.

Torts I and II

Study of civil wrongs, including assault, battery, false imprisonment, negligence, proximate cause, deceit, libel and slander, and trade and labor disputes.

Upper-Level Curriculum

The School of Law offers a range of upper level courses that provide students with a well-rounded background in a variety of legal disciplines. Many upper level courses provide students with opportunities for interdisciplinary study and concentration in particular areas of interest. Second-, third- and fourth-year students may customize their curriculum with a range of recommended and elective courses, seminars and externship experiences. Additionally, students are allowed to take up to six credits of graduate work outside the law school. Counseling on individual degree plans is available from the faculty and the Assistant Dean for Student Life.

Graduation Requirements

In addition to basic first-year curriculum, additional graduation requirements include the following:

Core Courses

Students are required to complete at least 18 hours of "core" courses, which include:

  • Business Organizations
  • Criminal Procedure: Constitutional Issues
  • Criminal Procedure: Judicial Processes
  • Decedents' Estates and Trusts
  • Family Law
  • Evidence
  • Secured Transactions

Perspective Courses

The law school also requires that each student take a perspective course. The perspective course requirement is intended to ensure students encounter an "outsider" perspective on the American legal system, whether that perspective comes from the past, from abroad, from other academic disciplines or from non-dominant perspectives within contemporary American society.

Upper Division Writing Requirement

The writing requirement is designed to ensure students have the opportunity to engage in a significant research project during their course of legal study.

Public Service Requirement

Students must complete the public service requirement prior to graduation by engaging in at least 30 hours of law-related public service at an approved placement. Failure to complete the public service hours and submit all required documentation by the published deadline will result in delayed graduation.

Experiential Learning Requirement

Beginning with Fall 2016 admits, all students enrolled in the law school must receive at least six credit hours of upper division professional skills classes or experiences.

At least two of these credits must be earned in live client courses.

Experiential courses are simulation courses, law clinic courses or field placement courses. Live client courses include the following types of non-simulation courses: law school clinics, community partnership clinics and designated externships.  Participating in a live client course allows students to assume responsibility related to real-world cases and clients. The nature of the experience differs from course to course, but students develop a variety of lawyering skills and gain proficiency in the exercise of professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system.