Law School Required Curriculum

First Year Courses

Fall Semester

Civil Procedure I (4 credits)

The course introduces the first-year law student to the modern system of civil litigation, with particular emphasis on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Particular topics may vary, but generally include the basic features of an adversarial system for dispute resolution and its alternatives, pleading, joinder of claims and parties, discovery, pre-trial and post-trial motion practice, and concepts of personal and subject matter jurisdiction.

Legal Method/Civil Rights (2 credits)

The course is designed to introduce students to legal methodology, using both constitutional and statutory civil rights cases. The course provides instruction in the basics of legal analysis, including how to read, brief, and synthesize cases; apply legal rules to facts; and interpret statutes. Special attention is paid to the role of history in legal analysis, emphasizing the political, social, and economic problems that led to the selected cases.

A major purpose of this history is to further a vision of professional responsibility consistent with the historical role of the law school. This review should accomplish two additional goals: first, to demonstrate the relationship between historical events and legal change, and second, to explain the special historical role of Howard University School of Law in the civil rights movement and in related efforts to use law as a means of social change.

Torts (4 credits)

The course begins with a historic view of the evolution of torts, focusing on the concepts of trespass and trespass on the case. The course then examines the legal bases for liability and the policy underlying such liability for civil wrongs. Thereafter, liability for the wrongful invasion of the legally protected interest of another is explored, focusing on the major specific intentional torts and negligence. The course also explores the principle of liability without fault and examines the areas of products liability, invasion of privacy, nuisance, deceit, malicious prosecution, and interference with contractual relations.

Spring Semester

Constitutional Law I (3 credits)

The course examines the basic structures of the American constitutional system, the historical development of the U.S. Supreme Court as an institution, the philosophical justifications for the exercise of judicial review and judicial authority by judges in a democratic society, and the various methods of legal reasoning that are used to interpret the Constitution. Among the topics to be examined are judicial review, the commerce clause, separation of powers, and other legislative powers.

Criminal Law (3 credits)

The course provides an introduction to the basic principles of the substantive criminal law, as well as the elements of some common crimes to illustrate those basic principles. Topics covered include actus reus, mens rea, homicide, self- defense, conspiracy, and attempts. The course emphasizes the skill of statutory interpretation and a comparison between common law and Model Penal Code approaches to criminal liability.

Real Property (4 credits)

The course covers the principles of real property law, including possession and purchases; commercial transactions in land, including estates and rights in realty; landlord/tenant relationships and problems; and land conveyance and land-use controls.

Full Year

Contracts (5 credits)

The course, taught over two semesters, covers the law of contracts, including offer and acceptance, the rules of bargaining, performance and breach, third- party beneficiaries, and assignments. As the first commercial law course, the course also introduces sections of the Uniform Commercial Code, particularly sales under Article II.

Legal Reasoning, Research and Writing (4 credits)

The course teaches students, over two semesters, the basics of legal reasoning through a series of research and writing exercises. Students learn how to use available research resources, including computer databases. The course introduces the writing of objective legal memoranda, client letters, and advocacy briefs for the trial court level. As part of the research and writing assignments, students are introduced to various aspects of client representation and the role of the lawyer in the legal system. Students also are introduced to basic techniques of oral argument.

Second Year Courses

Constitutional Law II (3 credits)

The course examines the constitutional norms of equal protection and due process, with a focus on such issues as racial discrimination, sex discrimination, abortion, voting rights, and disproportionate burdens on the poor. The course also examines the first Amendment freedoms of speech, press, association, or religion.

Legal Writing II (2 credits)

The course explores methods of persuasion. Students participate in numerous practice arguments. In addition, students are required to write an appellate brief on a relatively sophisticated problem, which must be rewritten after comment and evaluation by the instructor. Oral arguments based on the briefs conclude the course.

Other Upper Level Required Courses

Evidence (4 credits)

The course examines the system of rules by which the admission of proof at the trial of a lawsuit is regulated, including judicial notice, hearsay, qualifications and privileges of witnesses, conduct of examinations, competency of witnesses, relevancy and materiality of offers of proof, legal presumptions and the burden of proof, and functions of judge and the jury.

Professional Responsibility (3 credits)

The course examines the traditions of the legal profession, its obligations in a democratic society, including problems of pro bono practice, representation of minority groups, the unauthorized practice of law, fee determination, bar organization, and function. Special attention is devoted to the canons of legal ethics and disciplinary actions.

Additional Upper Level Academic Requirements

Legal Writing III

This requirement is designed to further enhance the writing and research skills developed in the first and second years. Before graduation, each student must complete a research project on an in-depth study of a specialized topic and must produce a written product that analyzes the issues involved and sets forth supportable conclusions. The written product must be completed in consultation with a full-time member of the faculty who has agreed to assist the student. A student must earn a grade of at least 75 to receive credit for having satisfied this academic requirement. No additional academic credit, other than that normally earned in the course (if any) in which the student is writing the written product, shall be earned by a student for completion of the paper. In addition, this paper requirement cannot be met by a paper used to satisfy the requirements of any course not designated on the disclosure form.

Skills Course Requirement - Each student is required to take one course designed to assist the person in developing proficiency in certain professional skills that are essential to the lawyer. Students may satisfy the skills requirement with one of the following courses:

Advanced Corporate Problems Alternative Dispute Resolution Appellate Advocacy Civil Litigation Clinic Civil Rights Planning Collective Bargaining and Arbitration Criminal Justice Litigation Interviewing, Counseling, and Negotiating Legal Drafting (formerly, Legal Writing) Pretrial Litigation Practice Trial Advocacy