Curriculum Guide

Dear Student,

Charting your path through the Law School’s upper-level curriculum is an important and exciting challenge. You will take Corporations and Professional Responsibility, as well as courses that satisfy our upper-level skills and writing requirements, as detailed in our Academic Regulations. Beyond those building blocks, you have great latitude to tailor your course of study to reflect your academic interests and meet your personal and professional goals.

The Curriculum Guide provides an overview of the substantive areas in which the Law School offers courses. Narratives in each subject area introduce the topic as well as indicate full-time faculty who teach in the area. The Guide also describes clinical offerings and other programs that relate to specific subject areas. Student-run journals, competitions, and organizations give you further opportunities to explore topics in depth.

Advice on Structuring a Course of Study

There is no single way to navigate the Law School’s upper-level curriculum. Your upper-level course of study gives you the opportunity to explore a variety of attorney roles—litigator, transactional advisor, regulator, organizer, and others—as well as a wide range of subjects.

In order to help you balance the breadth of your exploration with opportunities for deeper focus, the Law School now offers Concentrations. These are optional groups of five upper-level courses that relate to particular areas of legal practice. The areas of Concentration are:

  • Business and Financial Law 
  • Intellectual Property and Information Law 
  • International, Comparative, and Foreign Law 
  • Litigation and Dispute Resolution 
  • Public Interest and Service  

Our faculty has designed Concentrations to be flexible, while providing students with a strong foundation. Whether you take one or more Concentrations or none, the decision is yours.

Beyond the Concentrations, whether you have a strong sense of a field you plan to specialize in or are interested in exploring a wide array of topics, here are some general considerations to keep in mind:

  • Consider a mix of classes that includes not only broad doctrinal areas, but also opportunities to write seminar papers, briefs, deal documents, and memoranda; tackle topics in depth; and gain hands-on training.
  • Take courses from professors you have heard are excellent. Creative and interesting people can bring out the creative, interesting, and worthwhile aspects of any subject area. 
  • Early in your upper-level curriculum, consider taking a small course that involves writing and is taught by a member of Fordham’s full-time faculty, or an independent study supervised by a full-time faculty member. This will allow you to get to know a professor more personally, and to receive individual faculty feedback on your written work.
  • All students are required to take a designated “professional skills” class. I urge you to go beyond the minimum required and take full advantage of the Law School’s outstanding clinical offerings, simulation courses, and externship opportunities. These experiential courses allow you to develop effective advocacy skills and to gain exposure to the demands of representing clients in a variety of practice environments.
    • Fundamental Lawyering Skills fulfills the professional skills requirement, and is also a pre- or co-requisite for many of our clinical offerings. 
    • We offer a variety of drafting courses by practice specialty, listed in the Curriculum Guide under the Legal Writing Program; drafting courses are also included in the Concentrations.
    • Advanced Legal Research classes, covering both general skills and specific subjects, provide students with knowledge of and confidence in modern research methods and they allow students to demonstrate mastery of a practical skill set. Three-credit offerings in Advanced Legal Research satisfy the skills requirement, although one- and two-credit options do not.
  • Whether you take a Concentration or not, it is a good idea to consider some foundational courses—such as Evidence, Income Taxation, or Administrative Law—in your second year (or third year, for evening students), rather than waiting for the year before you graduate. While not required, these courses address core aspects of many areas of practice and would contribute greatly to your overall understanding of fundamental concepts in the law. The courses reflected in each Concentration also provide a good sense of core foundations, and sequencing beyond, which is handy for helping orient you in general to the heart of our curriculum.
  • With the increasing globalization of legal practice, I suggest that students take at least one international law course, such as International Law, International Business Transactions, International Trade, or Human Rights. Students interested in international aspects of legal practice can also take a wide variety of specialized offerings.
  • Finally, it is important to remember that context and critical reasoning are foundational to any area of practice. A well-rounded legal education also includes courses such as Jurisprudence, Critical Legal Theory, Law and Economics, and Legal History, all of which help you gain broader perspectives on the law and the legal system.

The Upper-Level Curriculum and the Bar

Students often ask what they can do to enhance their chance of bar passage. In general, I encourage you to choose courses with the goal of getting a well-rounded education, pursuing your areas of interest, and experiencing a range of pedagogical methods (exam-based courses, seminars with papers, and experiential classes), rather than seeking to cover bar topics simply for the sake of bar examination preparation. Most of your preparation for the bar exam will occur over the summer after graduation, in a bar review course. Of course, many of the topics covered on the bar examination are considered to be “basics” of legal education.

For students who want a list of the topics that will be tested on the bar exam:

I also encourage you to avail yourself of the resources that are available at the Law School to enhance your legal skills. The Office of Student Affairs offers academic workshops and bar preparation services. The administrators who develop these programs are attorneys and are steeped in the knowledge of what it takes to succeed in law school. If they can’t answer a question or help you with a particular issue, they will direct you to the appropriate person or office.

Guidance Beyond the Curriculum Guide

Navigating your upper-level curriculum takes planning, and the Law School can help—through this Curriculum Guide, the resources available in the Concentrations, and the opportunity to meet and interact with faculty member during pre-registration sessions.

It is important to seek out advice from full-time faculty and other members of the Fordham community as to which courses and related activities best match your interests and goals. I urge you to seek this guidance early in your law school career so that you may take introductory or foundational courses, some of which also may be prerequisites for advanced specialized courses.

As a final note, the Registrar and I set up an online chat room during the week of registration each term. You can find the chat room under “Registrar Chat” on the main page of the Office of Registrar. We are always happy to speak with you regarding our course offerings and your upper level elective choices.

Please do not hesitate to contact me.

Nestor Davidson 
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs