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Program Requirements and Policies

Curricular and Residency Requirements

The J.D. Program

The Law School requires that J.D. students be in residence, full-time, for nine quarters, with no fewer than nine credit hours per quarter, in order to graduate. J.D. students must complete 105 credit hours, including a professional responsibility class, a professional skills class, and two substantial pieces of writing. LL.M. students must complete 27 credit hours at the Law School, with a minimum of nine credit hours in any given quarter. Please note, however, that LL.M. students must earn a minimum of 30 credits from the Law School to sit for the New York bar exam. Students who have passed a state bar exam in the United States prior to matriculating in the J.D. program at the Law School may be exempt from certain required classes. Such decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Dean of Students and Deputy Dean depending upon other legal coursework completed at other institutions.

Initial registration takes place several weeks prior to the start of each academic quarter. Students are notified of the availability of online class schedules and registration procedures via email. The registration process for each quarter generally comprises four periods: initial bidding for limited enrollment offerings, online add/drop, late add/drop (a paper based process), and the withdrawal-only period (students abandoning a class after the last day to drop receive a grade of “W” if they drop the class up to the last day of classes or the numeric equivalent of an “F” after the last day of classes). Students must refer to the online academic calendar for specific dates for each quarter ( Deadlines are strictly enforced.

First-year students are assigned to sections and registered by the Registrar for all classes except their third-quarter elective. Second- and third-year students and LL.M. students register themselves for classes using web-based registration systems.

Students may bid for a maximum of five classes per quarter, but the maximum number of credits in which a student can be registered via the bidding process is 14. Students are strongly urged to drop classes in which they are no longer interested as soon as possible.

Class Attendance

Regular class attendance is required as a condition for receiving course credit. The Faculty Committee on Academic Rules has articulated ABA Standard 304(d) concerning student attendance as follows: 

  1. Regular class attendance is required as a condition of receiving credit for courses at the Law School. Each instructor may supplement this general attendance requirement by announcing a more specific attendance requirement for a particular course. It is the obligation of each student to conform to these requirements.
  2. An instructor who observes a student to be in violation of the attendance requirement shall so advise the Dean of Students, who shall promptly notify the student that s/he is in violation of the Law School’s requirement. If a student’s attendance remains unsatisfactory in that course or is at any time thereafter in violation of the general attendance requirement in any other course, the Committee on Academic Rules and Petitions may deny the student credit in the courses, add a memo to the student’s file, withdraw the student’s privilege of membership in the Law School, or take any other appropriate action. 
  3. No student shall:
  • be employed more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session, (ABA Standards, 304(f));
  • maintain a primary residence outside the Chicago metropolitan area while classes are in session; or
  • fail to sign a seating chart within two weeks of enrollment in any course (first week for limited enroll courses).

Upon finding a student in violation of any of these requirements, the Committee on Academic Rules and Petitions may deny the student credit in the course, withdraw the student’s privilege of membership in the School, add a memo to the student’s file, or take any other appropriate action.

PLEASE NOTE: Faculty members are increasingly strict in interpreting what constitutes “regular” attendance. In addition, many state bar licensing boards have begun to ask whether an applicant has ever been warned about problems with lateness or absenteeism. Students have been failed for poor attendance, have been dropped from course rosters, and have been denied credit in courses. If a problem is noted by a faculty member, a memo is added to the student’s file and it will be reported to the appropriate licensing agency.

Each spring, the Law School makes a tentative determination about which courses will be offered in the following year and who will teach them. Suggestions for new course offerings should be brought to the attention of the Registrar.

The First Year

Students in the first year take a prescribed program covering five principal branches of the law—contracts, torts, property, criminal law, and civil procedure. In addition to providing this general foundation of legal knowledge, the program is intended to cultivate legal reasoning skills and to foster an understanding of the development of the law through judicial decisions and statutory interpretation. Instruction in the first year primarily centers on class discussion of judicial decisions (known as the “case method”). In addition to the traditional first-year offerings, all first year students take a course unique to the Law School called Elements of the Law. Elements considers legal issues and their relationships to other fields of thought such as philosophy, economics, and political theory.

All first-year students participate in the legal writing program, under the supervision of one of the six Bigelow Teaching Fellows. The legal writing class introduces students to standard legal research tools and techniques and requires students to write a series of legal memoranda and briefs. In the Spring Quarter, each student prepares an appellate brief and participates in an oral argument. The Joseph Henry Beale Prize is awarded to a student in each section of the first year legal research and writing program whose work is judged to be most worthy of special recognition. Another prize (its name changes each year to reflect the name of the law firm sponsoring the award) is awarded for the outstanding appellate brief.

The Second and Third Years

Classes after the first year are all elective. Prior to graduation, however, all students must complete classes that meet requirements set by the American Bar Association, including a professional skills class and a professional responsibility class. Additionally, students must complete two writing requirements, which are described in more detail later in this document.

Students have freedom to tailor their programs to their own interests and needs, although all students are expected to design programs that will provide them a strong foundation in the standard subject areas of the law. Students should also find some area or areas to pursue in special depth and breadth, either because of particular career inclinations or for the intellectual value that goes with striving for the competence of the expert. Students are advised against excessive specialization, however, as lawyers are not expected to be specialists when they graduate from law school, and it is impossible to foresee future career changes and challenges. The freedom of the elective policy places responsibility on students to plan a coherent program that provides a sound general background and meets individual interests and objectives. Some specific considerations are set forth below in the section on Selecting Classes. Students receive additional guidance on course selection at 2L Orientation, which is held in conjunction with orientation for the On-Campus Interview program. Students are encouraged to consult with members of the faculty, the Dean of Students, or the Registrar for additional guidance on their programs.

As should be clear from the course and seminar descriptions, the Law School believes in an integrated curriculum. History, economics, other social sciences, and the humanities are often useful (and indeed indispensable) for a better understanding of legal materials. They are not just appended (in the style of “law and ...”), but constitute an integral part of legal analysis.

The curriculum at the Law School changes from year to year as faculty members are encouraged to experiment with new course offerings. In addition, courses and seminars available in a given year are determined in part by the composition of the faculty and the availability of visitors and lecturers. As a result, the curriculum may vary substantially from year to year. Accordingly, students are encouraged to take classes when they are offered rather than risk missing out on a class.

While there can be no assurance that a course offered one year will be offered the following year, a core group of courses is typically offered each year. These include: Administrative Law, Antitrust Law, Bankruptcy and Reorganization, Constitutional Law I, Constitutional Law II, Constitutional Law III, Copyright, Business Organizations/Corporation Law, Criminal Procedure I, Criminal Procedure II, Labor Law, Evidence, Federal Jurisdiction, Federal Regulation of Securities, Introductory Income Tax, classes in Law and Economics, Legal Profession, Public International Law, Secured Transactions, and Taxation of Corporations I and II.

Course Registration Restrictions

When registering, please note:

Pursuant to ABA requirements, students may not register in two classes if there is a time conflict with any portion of any of the time slots (including pre-scheduled make-up time slots) or if travel time between classes would make the student late for the second class.

Similar Classes

Certain courses will cover substantially similar material. Accordingly, students may not receive credit for both classes. Examples of such overlapping classes include the following (this is not meant to be an exhaustive listing of such classes):

  • Con Law II and Con Law IV
  • International Law and Public International Law
  • Labor Law and Employment and Labor Law
  • Legal Profession and Legal Profession: Ethics
  • Trial Advocacy and Intensive Trial Practice Workshop
  • Sex Discrimination and Sex Equality
  • The same course taught by different professors (or the same professor), e.g., Corporate Finance here and at Booth.

It is impossible to list all of the similar classes outside the Law School. If you note similarities in the course descriptions, you should contact the Registrar or the Dean of Students to determine whether both classes may be taken. The burden to avoid overlapping classes falls on the student.


For actions outside the usual procedures, petitions are available online at Petitions are required to do the following:
• Take 14 Credits
• Take a Non-Law School Course for Credit
• Reschedule an Exam
• Register for an Independent Research
• Register for a Law School Class as a Non-Law Student

Registration Restrictions

Students may not register for classes beyond their first quarter if they:
• Have registration restrictions placed by any office of the University (such as the Bursar’s Office, the Financial Aid Office, etc.);
• Have not satisfied their immunization requirements; or
• Have not furnished the Office of the Registrar with an official transcript of their undergraduate work or graduate work done before matriculation at the Law School. The transcript(s) must be sent directly from the other institution(s) to the Law School Office of the Registrar and must bear the degree earned. Additional restrictions pertaining to specific quarters/classes/students are listed online at

The Second Year

Although no specific courses are required in the second year, certain courses are considered foundational and are commonly taken by a large number of students in the second rather than the third year. These courses include: Evidence, Introductory Income Tax, Business Organizations/Corporation Law, Constitutional Law I, and Administrative Law.

In planning a program, students should consider some courses predicates for more advanced work in the same general field. In the field of business associations, for example, a second-year student should consider taking Business Organizations/Corporation Law and Taxation of Corporations, which provide a basis for advanced work in the third year in such courses as Federal Regulation of Securities, Bankruptcy and Reorganizations, and Business Planning. Administrative Law has most often been taken as a second-year course, since it is a survey of general principles in the field and thus forms a background for understanding the operation of administrative agencies and procedures in a variety of special subject areas, such as labor law, securities regulation, taxation, public utility regulation, the communications industry, etc. Students who plan to take a trial advocacy course or to work intensively in a Clinic program defer other subjects and take Evidence, and possibly a course on criminal procedure, in the second year.

It is important that students strike a sensible balance in structuring their program between traditional courses such as Evidence, Business Organizations/Corporation Law, Tax, and Constitutional Law, on the one hand, and seminars, workshops, and more specialized courses such as Legal Interpretation and Art Law, on the other. Students should try to divide their traditional classes between the second and third years to maintain this sense of balance. In addition, students are required to fulfill one of their writing requirements before the end of the second year.

The Third Year

The third year provides an opportunity for students to round out their knowledge of basic subject areas and to take courses in fields of special interest. It should also have distinct intellectual objectives, including:

  1. taking advanced courses or seminars in a field in which students have acquired some foundation in the second year;
  2. taking courses that cut across subjects previously studied and emphasize the application of legal principles to concrete problems as they come to the lawyer in practice; and
  3. cultural or perspective studies that help give students a broad and critical appreciation of legal institutions and their development.

Graduate Programs

The LL.M. and M.Comp.L. Program

The LL.M. or M.Comp.L. degree is awarded to students who have been in residence for three full consecutive academic quarters and have completed their studies with a minimum average of 170. To qualify for residence for a full quarter, the student must take and complete the equivalent of nine or more course hours. Credit for twenty-seven course hours and the maintenance of satisfactory academic standing are necessary to qualify for the degree.

The J.S.D. and D.Comp.L. Program

The degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence or of Doctor of Comparative Law will be awarded to students who have been in residence for three full consecutive academic quarters and have submitted a dissertation that is accepted by the faculty as a creditable contribution to legal scholarship.

The dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate Studies Committee within five years after admission to the J.S.D. or D.Comp.L. Programs and must be in publishable form, and must comply with form requirements established by the Graduate Studies Committee and the Dissertation Office of the University. 

Writing Requirement

Every J.D. student must complete at least two writing projects beyond the work required in the first-year course in Legal Research and Writing. At least one of these writing projects must be a “substantial research paper (SRP).”

An SRP is:

  1. a careful, extensive treatment of a particular topic;
  2. certified by a member of the faculty (including Visiting Faculty, Senior Lecturers at the Law School, Schwartz Lecturers, and tenured University of Chicago professors who have permanent offices at the Law School, but excluding Bigelow and other Fellows as well as Lecturers in Law) who is in full-time residence at the Law School and was the instructor for the course or independent study for which the paper was written;
  3. submitted by a student who has taken advantage of one or more opportunities to respond to suggestions and criticism in producing the paper; and
  4. not largely derivative of work undertaken for another academic degree, for a summer job, or in some other environment outside the Law School. A publishable comment or note written for a student journal will satisfy the SRP requirement if it is:
    1. nominated for this purpose by the editor-in-chief of the journal; and
    2. approved by the Dean of Students, in consultation with the Faculty Committee on Writing, prior to the authoring student’s final term of study at the Law School.

SRPs are typically 20-30 pages in length, but revisions and opportunities to rework arguments and writing are more important than length. Faculty members certifying such projects must approve the paper topic and agree to supervise the project prior to the student’s undertaking substantial research and writing. SRP credit will not be given for response or reaction papers (that is, where significant legal research is not required), although a faculty member may certify a project that combines reaction papers into a larger paper that reflects faculty-supervised revisions and substantial research. Similarly, if substantial research and supervision by a faculty member (as described in (2) above) are elements of a writing project that produces a brief or a model statute, that too may qualify as an SRP. Work undertaken in the form of independent research, supervised by a faculty member in full-time residence at the Law School, may, of course, also satisfy the SRP requirement.

A student’s second, or other, writing project can, but need not, be of the SRP form. It can be:

  • a paper, series of papers, brief or other substantial writing prepared as part of a course or a seminar supervised by a faculty member or a Lecturer in Law so long as the instructor’s expertise and guidance inform the writing process; or
  • a comment or note prepared for one of the student-edited journals, and nominated and approved as above, even if undertaken or submitted too late for SRP certification; or (c) a brief prepared for the semifinal or final round of the Hinton Moot Court Competition and accepted by the Dean of Students; or
  • a brief or series of writings undertaken in one of the Law School’s clinical programs, or in a professional skills course offered at the Law School, so long as the instructor’s expertise and guidance inform the writing process; or
  • an SRP. 

Again, work submitted in satisfaction of either of the two writing requirements may not largely be derivative of work undertaken in pursuit of another academic degree or in a summer job or other environment outside the Law School.

Students are required to complete at least one of their required writing projects during their 2L year. They are strongly encouraged to begin the SRP in a quarter that is not the final quarter of study.

If a student is concerned that any work done for credit at the Law School might duplicate work done for another Law School course or another academic program or job, that student should consult with the Dean of Students in order to be sure that academic standards are not violated. The Dean of Students is also available to discuss any questions regarding the originality of work submitted, or the requirement that work done by others not be copied or plagiarized.

Professional Skills Course Requirement

Before graduation, all students must successfully complete one or more classes that have been approved by the Law School’s Committee on Professional Skills Development as fulfilling the professional skills requirement set by the Accreditation Committee of the American Bar Association.

The following classes that satisfy the professional skills requirement are currently scheduled to be offered during the 2012-13 academic year: 

Abrams Environmental Law Clinic
Accounting and Financial Analysis for Debt and Equity Markets and Transaction Structuring
Advanced Legal Research
Advanced Legal Writing
Brief-writing and Appellate Advocacy Seminar
Civil Rights Clinic: Police Accountability
Closing a Deal: Structuring and Documentation of a Secured Loan Transaction
Commercial Real Estate Transactions
Commercial Transactions - Negotiation, Drafting, and Analysis
Complex Litigation
Complex Mental Health Litigation Clinic
Constitutional Decisionmaking
Contract Drafting and Review
Contract Negotiation: Outsourcing
Contracts and Commercial Transactions
Corporate Lab: Transactional Clinic
Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project Clinic
Developing Law Practice Skills through the Study of National Security Issues
Divorce Practice and Procedure
Drafting Contracts:  The Problem of Ambiguity
Employment Discrimination Clinic
Entrepreneurship and the Law
Exoneration Project Clinic
Federal Criminal Justice Clinic
Fundamentals of Accounting for Attorneys
Gendered Violence and the Law Clinic
Housing Initiative Clinic
Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship
Intensive Trial Practice Workshop
International Arbitration
International Human Rights Clinic
Law and Practice of Zoning, Land Use, and Eminent Domain
Legal Elements of Accounting
Litigation Laboratory
Mental Health Advocacy Clinic
Mental Health Litigation Clinic
Negotiation and Mediation
Post Incarceration Reentry Clinic
Poverty and Housing Law Clinic
Pre-Trial Advocacy
Private Equity Transactions: Issues and Documentation
Prosecution and Defense Clinic
Secured Lender Remedies and Workout Transactions
Strategies and Processes of Negotiations
Structuring Venture Capital, Private Equity, and Entrepreneurial Transactions
Trial Advocacy
Young Center Immigrant Child Advocacy Clinic

Please note that this list is subject to change. For up-to-date information, please see the online course listing at

Clinical Programs

Second and third-year students obtain practical training through the Law School’s clinical and experiential programs, in which students represent clients and engage in other lawyering roles under the supervision of full time clinical teachers, faculty, and practicing attorneys. The Law School’s clinical and experiential programs give students an opportunity to learn litigation, legislative advocacy, and transactional skills. Students learn through classroom instruction, simulation, and representation of clients under the close supervision of the clinical teachers and attorneys. The program is intended to join the academic study of law with experience in interviewing clients, investigating facts, developing strategies, conducting negotiations, dealing with adverse parties, drafting legislation and lobbying legislators, drafting contracts, and participating in court proceedings.

The following clinical offerings are currently scheduled for the 2012-13 academic year, and may be amended from time to time to reflect changes or additions of new clinics:

  • Civil Rights Clinic: Police Accountability
  • Complex Mental Health Litigation Clinic
  • Corporate Lab: Transactional Clinic
  • Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project Clinic
  • Employment Discrimination Clinic
  • Exoneration Project Clinic
  • Federal Criminal Justice Clinic
  • Housing Initiative Clinic
  • Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship
  • International Human Rights Clinic
  • Mental Health Advocacy Clinic
  • Post Incarceration Reentry Clinic
  • Poverty and Housing Law Clinic
  • Prosecution and Defense Clinic
  • Young Center Immigrant Child Advocacy Clinic

The following rules apply to the clinical courses listed above:

  • No more than sixteen credits shall be awarded for clinical work.
  • The maximum number of credits students may earn for a given clinic shall be seven, except for the Corporate Lab: Transactional Clinic, in which students may earn up to nine credits. An Independent Research project (499) may not be used to evade applicable maximums or other rules regarding clinic participation.
  • Students may enroll in a clinic for no more than three credits in any one quarter, with the following exception: a clinic that mandates two quarters of enrollment, and does not permit more than two quarters of enrollment, may offer one three-credit quarter and one four-credit quarter.
  • Students are awarded one credit for work averaging five hours per week per quarter, subject to the applicable maximums set forth above. Students are expected to keep a record of the time they spend in practical work done in conjunction with the clinic.
  • Students may enroll in two clinics simultaneously with written permission of the relevant clinical supervisors. Students may enroll in more than one clinic during their time in law school. If there is more demand for a clinic than supply in any given year, a student who has not yet had a clinical opportunity shall receive preference over a student who has already participated in one clinic and seeks to enroll in a different one.
  • The authority to confirm enrollment in a clinic is vested in the respective clinical supervisor(s) who ensure that students have completed all the necessary pre-requisites, met all relevant enrollment criteria (such as language skills), and are otherwise qualified to participate in the program. Expectations regarding the duration of the student’s involvement with the clinic and total credits per quarter must be arranged with the clinical supervisor prior to enrollment.
  • Students must register for each quarter in which they are participating in a clinic; the registration system will allocate to each enrollment the default minimum credits for the quarter; adjustments based on actual work performed will be reported by the supervisors at the conclusion of each quarter to the Office of the Registrar.
  • With the exception of the Corporate Lab: Transactional Clinic, grades for clinical work are posted once, for all quarters of involvement, at the conclusion of the student’s involvement with the clinic, and students receive the same grade for all quarters. For the Corporate Lab: Transactional Clinic, grades are posted each quarter, and students may receive different grades for each quarter.
  • Most clinics have a seminar component that students may be required to take during their participation in the clinic. Please check the schedule for meeting days/times, as you may not register for other offerings that meet contemporaneously.

The Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic

The mission of the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic is to teach students effective advocacy skills, professional ethics, and the effect of legal institutions on the poor; to examine and apply legal theory while serving as advocates for people typically denied access to justice; and to reform legal education and the legal system to be more responsive to the interests of the poor. The Mandel Clinic renders assistance to indigent clients. Students assume responsibility, under the guidance of the full-time clinical faculty, for all aspects of the work. The program is intended to complement and enrich the theoretical study of law with experience in interviewing clients, investigating facts, dealing with adverse parties, working with government agencies, negotiating on behalf of clients, drafting legislation, drafting contracts, and participating in court and administrative proceedings. In addition, the Clinic seeks to acquaint students with the problems of professional responsibility and with the special issues of low-income clients and other disadvantaged groups. Students are encouraged to identify legal remedies for recurrent problems through new legislation, improvements in government services and benefits, assisting community-based groups and bar associations in their reform efforts, test cases, and other types of law reform litigation.

Under Illinois Supreme Court Rules, students who have completed 60 percent of the credits needed for graduation are authorized to appear on behalf of clients in the state trial courts and administrative agencies. Students may also represent clients in the Illinois Appellate Court, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Participation in the Mandel Clinic is limited to students enrolled in one of the clinical courses associated with each of the clinic projects. Currently the Mandel Clinic has the following clinics: Civil Rights Clinic: Police Accountability; Complex Mental Health Litigation Clinic; Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project Clinic; Employment Discrimination Clinic; Federal Criminal Justice Clinic; Housing Initiative Clinic; International Human Rights Clinic; Mental Health Advocacy Clinic; and the Post Incarceration Reentry Clinic. Student experiences may vary by project.

The Exoneration Project Clinic

The Exoneration Project Clinic represents clients who have been convicted of crimes of which they are innocent. The clinic assists clients in asserting their claims of actual innocence in state and federal court. Student participants are involved in all aspects of post-conviction litigation, including selecting cases, uncovering and developing new evidence of our clients’ innocence, and filing and litigating post-conviction petitions, habeas petitions, clemency petitions, and motions for forensic testing. The goals of the Exoneration Project Clinic are not only to correct individual injustices that have resulted in the conviction of innocent persons, but also to shed light on more widespread problems in the criminal justice system. The Clinic also seeks to encourage more interest among the bar for representing clients in need of post-conviction assistance.

Third-year students are required to complete, prior to their third year, Evidence and the Intensive Trial Practice Workshop. Students are also encouraged but not required to take Pretrial Advocacy, Criminal Procedure I, and Criminal Procedure II.

Young Center Immigrant Child Advocacy Clinic

The Young Center Immigrant Child Advocacy Clinic provides guardians ad litem (Child Advocates) for unaccompanied immigrant children who are in federal custody at the International Children's Center as well as non-detained unaccompanied children residing with sponsors in the Chicago area. Services provided by law students enrolled in the Clinic include: accompanying the children to Immigration Court, Cook County Juvenile Court, meetings with United States government officials, and meetings with consular officials from children's country of origin; legal research to support children's claim for relief from removal in cooperation with attorney(s) representing children in Immigration Court, before the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Seventh Circuit; meeting with the children at least once a week and identifying eligibility for relief from removal, including asylum and special visas for victims of trafficking, abuse, and abandonment; identifying and representing the children's best interests; investigation regarding children's presence in the United States, including reasons for departure from country of origin, journey, and time in the United States preceding apprehension, if any; researching conditions in children's countries of origin (e.g., political and economic conditions); developing written recommendations regarding children's best interests; writing advocacy briefs and advocating on children's behalf with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Department of Homeland Security, and Executive Office for Immigration Review in whatever context is necessary (e.g. least restrictive placement, family reunification, access to services, access to legal representation).

The Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship

The Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship, or IJ Clinic, is a public interest organization devoted principally to expanding economic liberties. It provides a range of legal services, especially those for start-up businesses, to local entrepreneurs in economically disadvantaged communities. Counsel from the IJ Clinic supervise second- and third-year law students as they work with entrepreneurs in such areas as business formation; license and permit application; contract and lease creation; landlord, supplier, and lender negotiation; basic tax and regulatory compliance; and other legal activities involving business transactions. The seminar Entrepreneurship & The Law is a prerequisite unless a student has received special permission from the instructors based on equivalent coursework.

Corporate Lab: Transactional Clinic

This transactional clinic provides students with a forum for working closely with legal teams at various major companies in the following sectors (subject to change): technology, consulting, telecommunications, and emerging businesses. This section aims to teach practical legal skills and knowledge both by having students work on actual projects and through classroom instruction and discussion. In addition, students will have the opportunity to hear from, and interface with, seasoned practitioners from leading law firms. This class mirrors a real-world work experience: Students will receive hands-on substantive and "client"-development experience and will be expected to manage and meet expectations (e.g., deadlines) while exercising a high level of professionalism. As a result, this class is likely to involve a significant time commitment (with a substantial amount of work to be completed outside of class), and students will get out of the Lab what they put into it. Student grades will be based upon participation in the classroom, appropriate attention to "client" service, collaborative efforts within a team environment, and quality of work product.

Poverty and Housing Law Clinic

This clinic, conducted over two sequential quarters, exposes students to the practice of poverty law work by giving them the opportunity to work on housing related cases at the Legal Assistance Foundation (LAF), which provides free legal services to indigent clients in civil matters. Students spend at least twelve hours per week in LAF's Housing Practice Group or in LAF's Consumer Practice Group (which handles bankruptcies and foreclosure defense). Students may appear with tenants at administrative grievance hearings, represent defendants in eviction or foreclosure actions, file suit to enjoin landlords from performing lock-outs or refusing to make necessary repairs, participate in ongoing federal litigation, advocate on behalf of tenant groups, comment on proposed federal housing regulations, and file bankruptcy petitions on behalf of subsidized-housing residents who are trying to preserve their tenancies. All students will be expected to interview clients, prepare written discovery, and draft motions. Students with 711 licenses may appear in court at status hearings, conduct depositions, argue contested motions, negotiate with opposing counsel, and participate in bench or jury trials. In addition to working at LAFMC, students will attend a weekly two-hour class at which they will learn about poverty law, public housing, the Section 8 tenant-based and project-based rental assistance programs, the landlord-tenant relationship, eviction actions, jury trial practice, housing discrimination, foreclosure defense, and the extensive and often misunderstood connection between criminal law and subsidized housing.

Prosecution and Defense Clinic

The Prosecution and Defense Clinic provides students with an opportunity to learn about the criminal justice system through:

  1. a two-quarter seminar taught by a former Assistant United States Attorney and a former Federal Defender; and,
  2. a clinical placement in either a prosecutor's office or public defender's office.

The goal of the course is to familiarize students with the legal procedures and issues which arise in a typical criminal case as well as ethical and other social justice issues (such as race and poverty) routinely considered by all criminal justice attorneys and courts. The clinic provides students with a unique combination of substantive criminal law and procedure, ethics, trial practice (through participation in courtroom exercises built around a single federal criminal case), and hands-on experience through a clinical placement. Each student in the clinic is responsible for securing a field placement and participating in a pre-screened externship program with a federal or state prosecutor or defender office for the winter and spring quarters (January through May). Examples include the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois, the State's Attorney's Office (in any northern Illinois county), the State's Office of the Attorney General, the Federal Defender Program for the Northern District of Illinois and the Public Defender's office (in any northern Illinois county). Each field placement will be formally supervised by coordinators within each program's office, and the faculty instructors will monitor the student's substantive work and performance in conjunction with the field placements. In the clinical placements, students may be expected to research substantive criminal law issues, draft affirmative and responsive pleadings and memos, interview witnesses and clients, assist lawyers with court hearings and where permitted (and with an appropriate 711 license), appear in court under the supervision of practicing attorneys.

Course Policies

Seminars and Simulation Classes

Students are permitted to enroll in up to four seminars and/or simulation classes per academic year, no more than three of which may be taught by individuals who are neither tenured professors, tenure track professors, clinical professors, visiting professors, emeritus professors, Schwartz lecturers, tenured University of Chicago professors who have permanent offices at the Law School, nor senior lecturers. In some instances, preferences are granted to second- or third-year students.

While many seminars and simulation classes can accommodate all of the registering students, on occasion, certain seminars and simulation classes will be oversubscribed; enrollment into seminars and simulation classes is typically via the bidding process (see Bidding below). As a rule, no more than twenty students will be admitted to a seminar. In some seminars, enrollment is limited to a smaller number. Regardless of whether a seminar or simulation class has a waitlist, all seminars and simulation classes are considered “limited enrollment classes.” Students are required to drop all seminars and simulation classes in excess of the four seminar rule before the end of the third week of quarter. Multi-quarter seminars count as one seminar. With the exception of Greenberg Seminars, all multi-quarter workshops (e.g., the Law and Economics Workshop, the Legal Scholarship Workshop, etc.) and seminars are considered seminars under this rule.

Waitlisted/Closed Classes

Students must attend the first meeting of a seminar, simulation class, or a course with a waitlist in order to stay enrolled in the class. A student who is on the waitlist and wishes to register for the class must attend the first class as well. In many cases, the professor is able to accommodate the students on the waitlist who attend the first class.

A student who wishes to drop a limited enrollment class (whether a seminar, a simulation class, or course that was included in the bidding process) must do so by 9:00 a.m. on the day of the second week of classes specified by the Office of the Registrar (e.g., if Autumn quarter’s classes begin on a Monday, then the deadline to drop would be 9:00 a.m. on the Monday of the second week of classes; if Autumn quarter’s classes begin on a Thursday, then the deadline to drop would be 9:00 a.m. on the Thursday of the second week of classes).

Please note that many faculty will drop students who do not attend the first class, regardless of whether the class has a waitlist. It is the student's responsibility to make sure classes are dropped by the deadline. Students should not assume that by not attending the first meeting they have been dropped from a class.


During the initial registration period of each quarter, students bid online for certain classes, including all seminars and clinics. Students may bid for up to five classes per quarter and must rank them in order of preference. The maximum number of credits in which a student can be registered via the bidding process is 14. Generally, 2Ls, 3Ls, and LL.Ms are on equal footing—there is no seniority system, since many of these seminars are offered only once or in alternating years. Please note, however, that faculty may choose to alter the priority system for their particular class based on the particular nature of the class. The Office of the Registrar publishes online a list of biddable classes approximately 10 days prior to the start of the bidding process, including the number of available seats for each class. Please see each quarter’s registration materials for additional information. For a list of classes subject to the bidding process, please see:

Classes Outside the Law School

During the second and third years, J.D. students may take up to four classes (for a total of twelve credits) outside the Law School for credit toward their J.D. degree, subject to the following conditions:

  1. the courses must bear a relation to their future legal practice or to the study of law in general;
  2. the course must be graduate level, although exceptions are occasionally made for undergraduate foreign languages that students have not previously studied or that students test into;
  3. students must petition through the Office of the Registrar (see and receive permission before enrolling in any class outside the Law School;
  4. students may take no more than two classes outside the Law School during any given quarter;
  5. students taking classes outside the Law School during their final quarter of study must explain the Law School’s grading deadlines to the faculty member and the faculty member must agree, in writing, to provide a grade or a provisional pass by the University deadline for submission of grades for graduating students;
  6. the class may not have substantial overlap with any class taken at the Law School or any prior institution (a determination made by the Dean of Students and the Registrar); and
  7. classes at other law schools or universities may not be substituted.

Classes cross-listed with the Law School do not count against the 12-credit limit, and law students do not need to petition to register in those classes. Law students registered in cross-listed classes must register for the classes using the LAWS-prefixed course number and also must receive a numerical grade (e.g., law students may not register to take cross-listed classes for alphabetical grades or Pass/Fail).

Determinations about the appropriateness of a particular class for a particular student’s course of study should not be interpreted as universal approval of the class for all students in a given year or in subsequent years.

Please follow these steps to register for a class outside of the Law School in any unit/department of the University but Booth:

  1. Go to the University of Chicago Time Schedules at
  2. Choose a department from the list.
  3. Review the list of classes offered by the department and select a graduate level class that you would like to take.
  4. Email the instructor of the class in which you seek to enroll. In some cases you will need the professor’s approval to register, and you should establish with the professor whether you will be taking the class pass/fail or for a letter grade.
  5. Complete the online petition to take a non-Law School class for credit. The petition is available at:
  6. Petitions may be submitted through the end of the first week of class. Petitions submitted thereafter will not be considered.
  7. After your petition is submitted, you will receive either an approval or denial from the Dean of Students via email.
  8. If the petition is approved, the Assistant Registrar will enroll you and notify you once that process is complete.

If you are interested in taking a class at Booth, please follow the instructions at You do not need to submit a Petition to Take a Non-Law School Course for Booth classes, but credits for Booth classes count toward the 12 credit limit and the maximum of two non-Law School classes per quarter.

As soon as the Booth registration is completed (typically the Monday of the second week of the quarter), you will receive an email confirmation of your registration status. If you decide not to take the Booth class for which you registered, you must immediately notify Booth and the Law School Registrar no later than the end of the third week of classes. Booth registration, course attendance, and grading are governed by all applicable Booth rules.

Booth registration information for non-Booth students, including links to course information, syllabi, exam schedules, and deadlines, is available at:

Students taking a Booth course who would like to elect Pass/Fail grading are required to complete the Pass/Fail Request form in the Booth Dean of Students’ Office by the Friday of Week 4 of the quarter. After this deadline, no changes can be made to a Pass/Fail request. If you intend to take a Booth course Pass/Fail, make certain that it is permitted, as some professors do not allow the Pass/Fail option.

Students may take classes in other departments on either a graded or pass/fail basis. Students and the instructor in the class will establish the conditions of the grade. If the graded option is selected, a letter grade will be recorded on the Law School transcript but will not be included in the calculation of grade point averages.

LL.M. students may take non-Law School classes, but the credits will not count towards the 27 credits required to graduate, nor will those classes count toward the nine credits per quarter residency requirement.

For additional information on taking classes across the Midway, please visit

Adding/Dropping Courses

For courses not governed by the rules applicable to limited enrollment courses, students must complete all adds or drops to their class schedule by the third week of the quarter. These deadlines are strictly enforced. After the third week, there can be no changes in a student’s enrollment except in extraordinary circumstances. A student who fails to complete a class and who does not obtain special permission from the Dean of Students to drop after the deadline will receive a “W” (up to the last day of classes) or the numeric equivalent of an “F” (after the last day of classes) on his/her transcript for that course. Permission to drop a class after the deadline will not be granted if:

  1. the class was included in the bidding process and oversubscribed at the time of registration;
  2. the student has received 50% or more of the final grade;
  3. the professor objects to the drop;
  4. the student will have less than nine credits for the quarter; or
  5. the request fails to meet the aforementioned “extraordinary circumstances” condition.

Additions after the first week require the permission of the professor. In light of ABA requirements concerning class attendance, faculty generally do not allow students to add a course after the first week.

These rules also apply to compressed schedule courses and multi-quarter courses, unless explicitly contravened in the course description.

Grading Policies

The grading scale at the Law School is as follows:

180-186 A

174-179 B

168-173 C

160-167 D

155-159 F

Law School grades are recorded as numerical grades for all LAWS-prefixed courses, unless otherwise explicitly noted in the course's description. The median grade in all courses and all seminars in which students are graded primarily on the basis of an examination must be 177. The median grade in all paper seminars, clinics, and simulation classes must be no lower than 177 and no higher than 179. Courses in which all students write papers, as well as courses and seminars in which students have the option to write a paper or sit for an examination, must have a median of 177 or 178. All 1L electives must have a 177 median, regardless of the basis for grading in those classes. The median grade in Bigelow Legal Research and Writing classes must be 178. The Law School may permit minor deviations from these mandatory medians only for classes with very low enrollments when the instructor certifies that the students’ performance was unusually strong or weak relative to students’ performance in the same class during prior years.

In the absence of any contrary statement, it is understood that a student’s grade in a course will be based entirely upon the written examination or paper in the class. Professors may choose to add a class participation component to the grade.

Honors are awarded to J.D. students at graduation based on final cumulative grade point averages as follows:

182 and above Highest Honors

180.5 and above High Honors

179 and above Honors

The Law School does not rank students. Students must not provide estimates of their class rank on resumes, in job interviews, or in any other context. A key on the back of the transcript provides information about the rolling percentage of students graduating with honors.

Membership in the national Order of the Coif organization is awarded pursuant to terms set by the national organization. Students are eligible for nomination for Order of the Coif upon graduation if they have earned at least 79 of the 105 credits needed for graduation in graded courses at the University of Chicago Law School. From that pool of eligible students, the top 10% at graduation is nominated for membership in the Coif.

A grade of 160 or above is required for credit in a course. A student who fails a class will be contacted by the Dean of Students. A student who receives two failing final grades in any one academic year or three failing final grades during his or her period of residence at the Law School will not have maintained satisfactory academic standing. Additionally, students must attain a minimum cumulative GPA of 168 at the conclusion of each academic year to maintain satisfactory academic standing. Maintenance of satisfactory academic standing is a prerequisite to continuing study in the Law School as well as to graduating from the Law School.

Kirkland & Ellis Scholars

In recognition of a very important gift to the Law School’s Centennial Capital Campaign, the Law School designates outstanding students as Kirkland & Ellis Scholars. Beginning with the Class of 2009, students with grades in the top 5% of the class are so designated at the end of their 1st year or 2nd year of study. Additional students will be added to this group during the 3rd year of study so that by graduation, 10% of the class will have been designated Kirkland & Ellis Scholars. Once a student receives the designation, it is not removed.