J.D. First, Second and Third-year Requirements

First Year

The first-year curriculum provides the basic building blocks of a rewarding professional career by developing a fundamental understanding of the law, legal analysis and the legal process.

Orientation

The first-year experience begins with an orientation introducing academic and organizational skills you must master to successfully complete law school. Topics presented during orientation include:

  • The importance of ethical and professional behavior in law school and the profession
  • Case briefing, synthesis, note taking, IRAC and exam writing
  • Learning styles and time management

First-year students also get to know College of Law faculty, staff and upper-level students during informal social events held during orientation.

First-year Courses

All first-year courses are required. Full-time first-year students are automatically registered for all courses. No additional courses may be added. You are not permitted to change from one section to another in a required course without the permission of the Dean's Office.

Fall Semester
Course Title Credit Hours
513 Legal Methods 2
502 Contracts I 3
506 Civil Procedure I 3
508 Torts 4
510 Criminal Law 3
511 Basic Legal Research I 1
515 Intro to Legal Profession I One credit awarded at end of academic year
Total hours 16
Spring Semester
Course Title Credit Hours
500 Legal Writing & Advocacy 2
503 Contracts II 3
505 Property 4
507 Civil Procedure II 3
512 Basic Legal Research II 2
550 Constitutional Law I 2
516 Introduction to the Legal Profession II 1
Total hours 17

Upper-Level Requirements

  • Constitutional Law II (600) and Legal Writing & Advocacy II (701) must be taken in the first semester of the second year.
  • Introduction to Lawyering Skills (720) must be taken during the second year.
  • Other requirements for graduation include Professional Responsibility (643), the upper-division writing requirement and participation in a clinic or externship.

Writing Requirement

All students at the College of Law must satisfy an upper-level writing requirement, typically during your fourth or fifth semester of enrollment at the College of Law. The requirement may be satisfied by completing any one of the following (all references are to the  Student Handbook):  
 
 • a writing seminar meeting the description in §3.16.1
 • a note for law review meeting the description in section §3.16.2
 • a qualifying directed research project meeting the description in §3.16.3

See the Student Handbook sec. 3.16 for additional information about the upper-level writing requirement.

Electives

  • To graduate, a student must have satisfactorily completed 90 semester hours of credit, including all required courses, with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.20 or better.
  • The additional courses needed to fulfill the 90 semester hours required for graduation may be selected from a broad range of upper-level elective courses that provide training in litigation and other lawyering skills and expose students to the full range of legal practice areas. Typically, several seminars are offered each semester. Past topics include civil rights litigation, corporate governance donative transfers, educational law, environmental law, family law, Illinois constitutional law, immigration law, international business, medical malpractice, sports and entertainment law, and tax policy.
  • The College of Law also offers six certificate programs that enable students to focus on specialized areas of the law.

Contact Us

Admissions
Swen Parson Hall 151
815-753-8595
law-admit@niu.edu
Dean's Office
Swen Parson Hall 270
815-753-1068