Fall 2015

Students being lectured to and learning in the classroom at Law School

Curriculum Changes Better Serve Student Needs

The Michigan Law faculty has adopted a set of changes to the Law School’s curriculum that will address new American Bar Association regulations and increase flexibility for students in a way that will better prepare them for an ever-evolving legal industry.

Beginning in the 2016-17 academic year, the changes affect when classes are taken and whether they are required, enhancing the ability of students to tailor their legal education to their areas of interest.

“For the last several years students and alumni have been calling for more flexibility in the design of their own educations. That, in combination with the ABA’s latest round of mandates, provided the push for us to reevaluate our curriculum,” said Dean Mark D. West, the Nippon Life Professor of Law. “I’m very happy that the faculty has adopted new standards that meet both needs.”

New ABA requirements include the successful completion by each student of six experiential education credits, which may include legal practice and clinic work, as well as two credits focused on professional responsibility from a law school course dedicated to ethics.

“When we stepped back to assess the ABA’s newest requirements, it was clear that the additional required coursework would have meant that more than half of a student’s Michigan Law experience would be prescribed before they even sat in our classrooms,” said Wade H. and Dores M. McCree Collegiate Professor of Law Kyle D. Logue, chair of the faculty’s standing curriculum committee. “Our goal was to continue to offer the best possible legal education, while also giving the students more opportunities to shape their own course of study.”

Other curricular updates address Michigan Law’s high standards of excellence and intellectual rigor. Constitutional Law, currently taught in the second year, will be taught in the first year. Property Law, currently a required course taught in the first year, will be an elective that can be taken any time after the first semester.

Other changes include:

  • An international or comparative law distribution requirement. Transnational Law will no longer be a required course. Students instead will fulfill an international/comparative law distribution requirement in their 2L or 3L year, choosing from a list of two-, three-, or four-credit course electives, which includes, but is not limited to, Transnational Law.
  • Legislation and Regulation will no longer be a required course. Students will choose from a list of three- or four-credit statutory or regulatory course electives to be taken anytime after the first semester. Offerings will include, but are not limited to, Legislation and Regulation.
  • Students will be required to take a second-semester 1L elective, which they may select from a wide range of three- or four-credit elective classes. Many students will use this elective to take Property Law or satisfy either the international or comparative law distribution requirement or the statutory or regulatory course distribution requirement, but that decision will rest with the student.