Curricular Advising FAQ

  1. What are Northwestern Law's graduation requirements?
  2. I am on a law journal or Jessup Moot Court. How can I meet the academic writing requirement during my second or third year?
  3. I am NOT on a law journal or Jessup Moot court. How can I meet the academic writing requirement during my second or third year?
  4. What courses allow for writing a 1-draft manuscript?
  5. What courses allow for writing a 3-draft manuscript?
  6. Why are some courses designated as 2.0-3.0 credits?
  7. What is a "seminar"?
  8. What is the minimum number of credits I must take in any given semester?
  9. What is the maximum number of credits I can take in any given semester?
  10. Is there a limit to how many credits I can earn outside the law school classroom (e.g. field placements/externships, coursework at other schools within the University)?
  11. I am a first-year law student. Will I be able to choose any elective courses?
  12. I am a second (or third) year law student. I passed all of my required first-year courses. Are any other courses required for graduation?
  13. When reviewing the course listings on CAESAR, how will I know if a course is designated as a Perspective Elective or a Professional Skills elective?
  14. Are there any "core" courses that I should take before graduation to be a well-rounded attorney?
  15. Does Northwestern Law offer courses to prepare students for the Bar Exam?
  16. Does Northwestern Law have a summer session?
  17. Do Northwestern Law students have opportunities to focus their studies on a specific area of law?
  18. What is Senior Research?
  19. What is the difference between Business Associations and Corporations?
  20. I am interested in taking Spanish for Lawyers. What level of Spanish language proficiency do I need to take the course?
  21. I've heard a lot about "ITA," but I don't know what it is. What courses does it cover and how many credits is it?
  22. What is the MPRE?
  23. What is an International Team Project (ITP)?
  24. What courses offer opportunities for hands-on legal work and exposure to clients?
  25. Are there limits on how many clinics or practicum courses I can take?
  26. I would like to study abroad for a semester. What programs does Northwestern Law offer and whom do I contact about them?
  • What are Northwestern Law's graduation requirements?

    To graduate, you must:

    • Earn 85 semester credit hours during 6 to 7 semesters in residence at Northwestern Law. (You may not exceed 17 credits in any one semester.)
    • Achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 2.25, or at least 2.0, if two-thirds of all grades are C+ or better.
    • Earn credit for the following required courses:
      • All required first-year courses
      • Legal Ethics Elective (from a list of such courses identified on CAESAR as such)
      • Perspective Elective (from a list of such courses identified on CAESAR as such)
      • Professional Skills Elective (from a list of such courses identified on CAESAR as such)
    • Complete the academic writing requirement during the second or third year (see below).

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  • I am on a law journal or Jessup Moot Court. How can I meet the academic writing requirement during my second or third year?

    You will meet the academic writing requirement if (1) you satisfactorily complete service on a journal or Jessup Moot court and (2) write two (or more) drafts of a paper in a course that allows for multiple drafts in satisfaction of the writing requirement (designated as such on CAESAR). The Journal/Moot Court work and the 2-draft manuscript must be unrelated.

    For assistance searching CAESAR for courses that allow for multiple drafts in satisfaction of the writing requirement, please watch this video.

    You will need to complete some paperwork to verify that you have met the academic writing requirement. The forms can be accessed from the Registrar's webpage.

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  • I am NOT on a law journal or Jessup Moot court. How can I meet the academic writing requirement during my second or third year?

    You will meet the academic writing requirement if you do one of two things:

    • The Senior Research Option: Complete a minimum of four credit hours of Senior Research. Four credit hours of senior Research, alone, will meet the academic writing requirement. OR
    • The 1-Draft and 3-Draft Manuscript Option: Complete a single draft manuscript and a three draft manuscript (see below). The two manuscripts must be unrelated.

    You will need to complete some paperwork to verify that you have met the academic writing requirement. The forms can be accessed from the Registrar's webpage.

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  • What courses allow for writing a 1-draft manuscript?

    You may complete a 1-draft manuscript in any of the following:

    • Taking ITP OR
    • Taking a course requiring a paper in lieu of a final examination and marked on CAESAR as a course satisfying the 1-draft requirement OR
    • Taking a seminar for 2 credits and writing one draft.

    For assistance searching CAESAR for courses that allow for the completion of a 1-draft manuscript please watch this video.

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  • What courses allow for writing a 3-draft manuscript?

    To complete a 3-draft manuscript, you must enroll in a seminar for 3 credits and write three drafts of a paper under the supervision of a faculty member.

    If you bid successfully on a seminar, CAESAR will enroll you in the seminar for 2 credits. To receive the third credit for your work in a seminar, you must retain professor approval to write 3-drafts and submit the necessary paperwork to the Registrar for manual enrollment in course for 3 credits. Upon completion of the 3-draft manuscript, you must file a certification of completion with the Registrar.

    For assistance searching CAESAR for courses that allow for 3-draft manuscripts in satisfaction of the writing requirement, please watch this video.

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  • Why are some courses designated as 2.0-3.0 credits?

    Northwestern Law offers courses for 2.0-3.0 credits to allow for the writing of multiple drafts of a paper under the supervision of a faculty member. If you enroll in the course for 2 credits, you must complete a one-draft manuscript. If you enroll in the course for 3 credits, you must complete a multiple-draft (two or three) manuscript.

    If you bid successfully on a seminar, CAESAR will enroll you in the seminar for 2 credits. To receive the third credit for your work in a seminar, you must retain professor approval to write multiple drafts and submit the necessary paperwork to the Registrar for manual enrollment in course for 3 credits. Upon completion of the multiple-draft manuscript, you must file a certification of completion with the Registrar. The forms can be accessed from the Registrar's webpage.

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  • What is a "seminar"?

    Seminar courses are small (15-25 students) classes that focus on a fairly narrow are of the law and in which students are assessed through paper(s) rather than exams. Seminar courses are open to 2Ls and/or 3Ls, and most may be taken for 2.0-3.0 credits, as designated in the seminar's course description. Seminar courses are discussion-heavy, and class participation plays a substantial role in the student's final grade.

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  • What is the minimum number of credits I must take in any given semester?

    Under the ABA rules, there is no minimum number of credits you must take in a semester to be considered a full-time student. However, if you are receiving financial aid, you should contact the Financial Aid Office for more information on the minimum load required by your financial aid provider.

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  • What is the maximum number of credits I can take in any given semester?

    Under the ABA rules, you may take no more than 17 credits of coursework in any given semester. Thus, in planning your schedule, be sure to keep the limit in mind so that you will have sufficient credits to graduate on time.

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  • Is there a limit to how many credits I can earn outside the law school classroom (e.g. field placements/externships, coursework at other schools within the University)?

    Students may earn no more than a total of 20 semester credit hours toward the number of credit hours required for a JD degree from enrollments in the following curricular opportunities outside the law school classroom:

    • Coursework outside the Law School (e.g. graduate level courses at another school within the University approved by the Assistant Dean for Curriculum)
    • Externships/Field Placements
      • For each Practicum course, students will still earn a total of four semester credit hours. Two of the four credits earned are attributable to the field placement portion of the course, and two credits are attributable to the weekly seminar portion of the course.   Only the field placement credits are counted towards the 20 credit maximum number of credits earned outside the law school classroom.
      • For each Intensive Semester Practicum course, students will still earn a total of twelve semester credit hours.  Nine of the twelve credits earned are attributable to the field placement portion of the course, and three credits are attributable to the weekly seminar portion of the course.  Only the field placement credits are counted towards the 20 credit maximum number of credits earned outside the law school classroom.
    • Summer Research Internships (2 credits per course)

    Courses that are co-listed in our curriculum and another graduate program within the University and thus offered for registration through Law Bidding are not subject to this enrollment limitation.

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  • I am a first-year law student. Will I be able to choose any elective courses?

    In the spring semester, first-year law students may choose two elective courses from a list of "open" electives identified on CAESAR. You may not take an elective that is not designated as "open" to first-year law students. Some "open" electives are also designated as "Perspective" electives; courses designated as both "open" and "Perspective" electives will satisfy the Perspective Elective graduation requirement. You are responsible for ensuring that you have bid only on "open" electives.

    For assistance searching CAESAR for "open" elective courses, watch this video.

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  • I am a second (or third) year law student. I passed all of my required first-year courses. Are any other courses required for graduation?

    Beyond the first year, the only required courses are:

    • A Perspective Elective (if you did not take one your first year)
    • A Legal Ethics Elective
    • A Professional Skills Elective

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  • When reviewing the course listings on CAESAR, how will I know if a course is designated as a Perspective Elective or a Professional Skills elective?

    If you are scrolling through the course listings for a given term, you can find course designations in the Course Attributes section at the bottom of a course description.

    If you are conducting a search for classes on CAESAR, you can conduct an advanced search for Perspective or Professional Skills electives. For assistance searching CAESAR for "Perspective" elective courses, please watch this video. For assistance searching CAESAR for "Professional Skills" elective courses, please watch this video.

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  • Are there any "core" courses that I should take before graduation to be a well-rounded attorney?

    Classes that are not required, but fall into the "core" course category and provide a well-rounded legal education, include:

    • Evidence
    • Administrative Law
    • Basic Federal Income Tax
    • Business Associations or Corporations
    • Estates and Trusts
    • Civil Procedure II or Federal Jurisdiction
    • International or Comparative Law
    • Intellectual Property
    • Employment Law

    Additionally, the following classes help students build the foundational skills necessary to successful law practice:

    • Negotiation/Mediation
    • Introduction to Trial Advocacy
    • Advanced Legal Writing or Contract Drafting

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  • Does Northwestern Law offer courses to prepare students for the Bar Exam?

    Northwestern Law does not offer a course that prepares students for the Bar Exam. Students may take courses that cover subjects that will be tested on the Bar Exam, but they are not required to do so before graduation. In the summer after graduation, you may complete a commercial bar exam preparation course that will teach you all of the subjects you will need to know to sit for the exam. If you are worried about learning all of the topics in a single preparatory course, please contact the Assistant Dean for Curriculum for advice on course selection.

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  • Does Northwestern Law have a summer session?

    Northwestern Law has a very limited summer session. Courses typically offered in the summer are Business Associations, Clinic courses, Practicum courses, and Negotiations. Summer classes span an 8-week term, and students register for spots in these classes on a first-come, first-serve basis. Summer courses count toward total credits and GPA, but do not count against the 6-7 semesters "in residence." In other words, you may not rely on summer credits to reduce a fall or spring semester to graduate early. Students are not charged additional tuition to enroll during the Summer.

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  • Do Northwestern Law students have opportunities to focus their studies on a specific area of law?

    Students interested in pursuing practice-specific areas of study may complete an academic concentration. Northwestern Law offers six academic concentrations:

    • Appellate
    • Business Enterprise
    • Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution
    • Environmental Law
    • International Law
    • Law and Social Policy

    Each concentration's course work varies, but all require students to complete required, basic courses; to complete at least 16 credit hours of related course study; and to complete at least one substantial research and writing project. Students who complete a concentration will receive a notation to this effect on their transcript if they apply for it with the Registrar. Concentrations are optional; they are not required. Please visit the Concentrations page for more information.

    If you prefer a less intensive area-specific curricular focus and do not wish to complete an academic concentration, you may conduct an "Additional Search Criteria" search on CAESAR for law practice areas and subjects. This feature provides a listing of all courses related to specific practice areas, such as administrative law, employment and labor law, family law, international law, real estate law, intellectual property law, and civil and human rights. For assistance using this feature, please click here.

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  • What is Senior Research?

    The Owen L. Coon/James A. Rahl Senior Research Program allows third-year law students to conduct in depth, supervised legal research leading to a paper of publishable quality. Students work one-on-one with a faculty member. Senior research is 4-12 credits over 1-2 semesters (minimum of 4 credits in the first semester, maximum 8 in any semester). To participate in the program, you must find a professor to work with and obtain approval from the Director of Senior Research.

    For more information about putting together a Senior Research proposal and the Intensive Research Semester option, please consult the Senior Research Guidelines.

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  • What is the difference between Business Associations and Corporations?

    Corporations is an alternative to Business Associations for students who prefer a one course introduction to the law of business entities. Business Associations provides broader, more in-depth coverage and is offered for students who wish to follow up with related course work, such as securities regulation, corporate finance, corporate tax, or other specialized offerings. Students who have taken Corporations may not take Business Associations.

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  • I am interested in taking Spanish for Lawyers. What level of Spanish language proficiency do I need to take the course?

    This course is conducted entirely in Spanish, with an expectation that students participate in the discussion. Thus, you will need at least intermediate oral comprehension and speaking skills, as well as a written fluency to understand the documents you will learn and review.

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  • I've heard a lot about "ITA," but I don't know what it is. What courses does it cover and how many credits is it?

    The ITA trilogy is a combination of Legal Ethics, Evidence, and Trial Advocacy offered only in the fall semester. All three courses are coordinated and taught in the same problem-based format with an emphasis on role-playing. You must take Evidence either before or concurrently with Trial Advocacy ITA. Students earn 10 credits for taking all three courses in the trilogy.

    Many students take a standalone course called Introduction to Trial Advocacy instead of taking the 10-credit ITA trilogy. If you choose this route, you are not required to take Evidence before or concurrently with Trial Advocacy, but students are strongly encouraged to do so.Legal Ethics can be taken at any time after your first year, but is useful to take in advance of the MPRE (see below).

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  • What is the MPRE?

    The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a test required for bar admission in all jurisdictions. The test is a sixty question, two-hour, multiple-choice examination. The Legal Ethics course will help prepare you for this test, but you may also enroll in a commercial MPRE prep course. The test is administered three times each year, in March, August, and November. For more information on the MPRE, please consult the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) page.

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  • What is an International Team Project (ITP)?

    ITP is a comparative law course in which students study the role of law and legal institutions, as well as cultural, political, and economic systems in a foreign country.

    ITP combines semester-long research, an intense two-week field study abroad, and a final group project.

    ITPs are student-organized and student-driven. In the fall, students work to generate interest in a particular country, identify a faculty member with experience and/or interest in that country, and identify four team leaders to organize the course and the trip. If the team's course proposal is accepted, students register in October and begin their study in the spring semester. The course is four credits. Please visit the International Team Projects page for more information on ITP.

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  • What courses offer opportunities for hands-on legal work and exposure to clients?

    Second and third-year law students can gain hands-on law practice experience by taking Bluhm Legal Clinic courses and Practicum courses. Clinics and practicum courses combine in-class course work with out-of-class legal work.

    Clinic students work with clinical faculty and staff to represent clients as well as challenge the fairness of legal institutions and propose solutions for reform. Clinic students regularly prepare briefs, examine witnesses, present evidence, and argue cases, although only 3Ls may obtain a "711" license and appear on a client's behalf in court. Bluhm Legal clinic programs include the Children and Family Justice Center, Small Business Opportunity Center (SBOC), Center for International Human Rights, Center on Wrongful Convictions, the MacArthur Justice Center, the Investor Protection Center, and the Bartlit Center for Trial Strategy. Additional simulation-based programs include: the Program on Civil Litigation, the Program on Advocacy and Professionalism, the Program on Negotiation and Mediation, and the Appellate Advocacy Program.

    Clinics courses are three credits for a 2L and four credits for a 3L. Please visit the Bluhm Legal Clinic page for more information.

    Practicum courses (also called "externships") offer similar hands-on experience but place students in legal settings outside of the law school. Practicum students typically meet once a week in class and also spend several hours per week working in government offices, judges' chambers, non-profit organizations, or companies. Northwestern Law offers many different practicum courses, including the judicial practicum, the public interest practicum, the civil government practicum, the corporate counsel practicum, and the criminal law practicum.

    Practicum courses are four credits for 2Ls and 3Ls. Please visit the Center for Externships site for more information on practicum courses.

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  • Are there limits on how many clinics or practicum courses I can take?

    While there is no official limit on the number of clinics or practicum courses a student can take, students seeking to take more than 14 credits of clinic and practicum courses combined should consult with the Assistant Dean for Curriculum and Programming. Students also may not take more than one clinic per semester or one practicum per semester; however, students may take one clinic and one practicum together in a single semester. It is always best to get the approval of the faculty members leading the clinic and practicum before combining obligations in this fashion.

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  • I would like to study abroad for a semester. What programs does Northwestern Law offer and whom do I contact about them?

    Northwestern Law has several study abroad programs for second and third-year law students. Students may study abroad in either the fall or the spring. Informational meetings on study abroad programs take place early in each semester.

    For more information about studying abroad, please contact the Director of International Programs. You may also consult the Study Abroad page for information about overseas opportunities.

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