Creating an academic plan and choosing second- and third-year courses are important and sometimes difficult processes. There is no single ‘correct’ strategy or philosophy for selecting courses. Factors to consider include: BU Law’s academic requirements; state bar exam requirements; whether you would benefit from experiential ("hands-on" and skills-based) learning; whether you prefer smaller seminars with more class discussion and writing assignments; your substantive legal interests; and your career goals. This site provides information about several such factors.
Also, we strongly suggest that you review a memorandum on general course selection advice prepared by our Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who puts together the curriculum each year.
Faculty Connections Program
This site and the links listed here may answer many of your questions about how to select courses and otherwise design your academic program.
Advising starts with our faculty. If you have more specific questions or want advice about issues not covered here, feel free to reach out to faculty. As students develop substantive interests, they often approach faculty who teach in those areas for more specific advice.
Feel free to consult your assigned first-year faculty contact, and don't be shy about also approaching other professors to ask questions. Check out profiles of our full-time faculty.
Factors And Opportunities To Consider
- BU Graduation Requirements Worksheet (CLASS OF 2016)
- BU Graduation Requirements Worksheet (CLASS OF 2017)
- Faculty Course Selection Advice and Guides
- Courses and Seminars, Clinical Programs, Semester-in-Practice, Externships, Legislative Programs, Transactional Law Program, and Study Abroad
- Credit/No Credit/Honors Option
- Course and Teacher Evaluations
- Full-Time Faculty by Subject Matter
- State Bar Admission Requirements and Bar Exam Information
- Concentrations and Dual-Degree Programs
- Professional Responsibility requirement
- Upper-class Writing requirement
- Professional Skills requirement
Please review the Law Student Handbook (which includes the Law Academic Regulations) for all requirements and policies.
Our Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who puts together the upperclass curriculum each year, has general course selection advice.
Also, several faculty members collaborated on memos that offer advice to students who wish to pursue any of the following legal specialties:
- Business (“Corporate”) Law
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law
- Health Law
- Intellectual Property Law
- International Law
In April 2013, Associate Dean Chris Marx, Professor David Breen, and Professor David Webber sponsored a panel discussion on course selection. Dean Marx discussed general upperclass requirements, the upperclass course registration process, and course selection related to judicial clerkships and small firm litigation practice. Professor Breen discussed how clinical programs and externships relate to academic and career goals. Professor Webber discussed course selection for those interested in corporate and transactional law and corporate litigation. View a video of the presentation.
Courses and Seminars, Clinical Programs, Semester-in-Practice, Externships, Legislative Programs, Transactional Law Program, and Study Abroad
There are many courses and seminars to choose from and many opportunities to learn outside of a traditional classroom setting. When planning your course work after first year, consider available opportunities, graduation requirements, your areas of interest, and career goals.
1. Courses and Seminars
JD and LL.M. Courses and Seminars
The upperclass JD program offers both courses and seminars; seminars have 25 or fewer students and typically (though not always) require a final paper or series of papers, and may require comments on readings. Although courses and seminars can change, a good place to start is to look at our current course and seminar offerings.
Some courses and seminars, particularly those taught by part-time faculty, are predominently experiential. These experiential-focused courses and seminars are included in a broader list of courses and seminars that satisfy our Professional Skills requirement.
JD students also may take LL.M. (Master’s of Law) courses for JD credit and at no additional charge in our two graduate programs: Banking and Financial Law and Taxation. Examples of LL.M. courses that JD students have taken include Microfinance, International Tax, Banking Structure and Regulation, and International Project Finance.
Boston University Graduate Courses for JD Credit
Any JD student may apply to the JD degree up to 12 credits (typically 4 courses) of non-law, graduate-level work at Boston University after first year. Thus, e.g., students might take one or more graduate courses in management, history, international relations, philosophy, English, public health, and other areas. Note that the number of law credits received for a non-law course may differ from what the other school offers due to ABA accreditation requirements. Please check credits with our Law Registrar's Office.
Courses and Seminars by Subject Matter
You may find it helpful to see current course and seminar offerings grouped by general subject matter. Note that many courses fall into more than one category. **Also, not all listed courses and seminars are offered each year.**
2. Clinical Programs
Our clinical programs provide students with opportunities to work with real clients on actual cases under close faculty supervision. Clinics offer opportunities in diverse areas of civil litigation or criminal law (prosecutor or defender).
In the Semester-in-Practice Program, students spend a semester working at a placement in Boston or outside of Boston, and also write a research paper with a BU Law faculty member. Current established placements include government lawyering in Washington, D.C., death penalty work in Atlanta, Georgia, and human rights work in Geneva, Switzerland. Students also can submit proposals for other placements for approval.
Externships consist of a part-time field placement in the Boston area and a weekly seminar. Current externships include the Legal Externship Program, (in which students work at public interest, government, or in-house counsel positions); the Health Law Externship; the Judicial Externship; the Government Lawyering Externship; and Community Courts.
5. Legislative Programs
The Legislative Programs afford students opportunities to learn about how law is made and to work on legislation. Work may involve a range of issues in areas such as intellectual property, health law, environmental law, and civil rights. Students' work in one program supports the African Parliamentary Knowledge Network.
6. Transactional Law Program
The Law School's innovative Transactional Law Program provides students with a solid grounding in the practice skills they will need as they embark on careers in a highly competitive and rapidly changing legal marketplace. The program includes upperclass courses and seminars, such as Contract Drafting, that focus on building practice and analytical and problem-solving skills. Students interested in a transactional law practice also may wish to do the Transactional Practice Concentration. Through contract drafting, negotiations, risk analysis and creative problem-solving, these existing and new skills-focused courses often employ simulations and emphasize the business context and the attorney's role in achieving the client's business objectives that drive transactional practice.
In addition to course offerings, the Transactional Law Program also spearheads BU Law's participation in the annual Transactional LawMeet® sponsored by the Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University.
For more information on the Transactional Law Program contact Professor Kent Coit
7. Study Abroad
BU Law offers several Study Abroad Programs. In most programs, students spend the semester at foreign schools. Some programs have a language requirement, though most offer classes in English. Students earn 12 credits, which meets our minimum semester credit requirement.
We also offer three year-long, dual-degree study abroad programs: the JD/LL.M. in European Law program in Paris, France; the JD/LL.M. in Asian Legal Studies in Singapore; and the JD/LL.M. with Universidad Pontificia Comillas de Madrid (ICADE ) in the school’s LL.M. in International and European Business Law program.
After first year, upperclass students may enroll in up to 8 credits total of course or seminar work on a Credit/No Credit/Honors (CR/NC/H) basis. The course descriptions will indicate if the class is NOT offered for CR/NC/H, or if the only option for the class is CR/NC/H. For more information, please review the Credit/No Credit/Honors Process.
You might also consider how prior students evaluated courses and professors. You can view course and seminar evaluations online by clicking here. (You must insert your BU login and kerberos password).
Be sure to check the bar admission requirements of the state in which you intend to practice. Some state bars have course or credit requirements. For example, some states limit the number of semester hours for courses related to legal training or clinical courses. The New York bar currently has a mandatory pro bono hours requirement. Some states require specific courses. Some require a certain number of in-class credit hours that exclude, for example, non-law classes or independent study credits. The National Conference of Bar Examiners Web site has links to all state bar authorities (under "Bar Admission Offices"). Each state will have links to its bar application and admission rules, and the format of its bar exam. Also check out our Student Affairs' Office website on bar information.
The Law School’s five concentrations provide a structured, systematic way to focus one’s study on a particular area of law through course requirements and a substantial paper. The concentrations are: Transactional Pracitice; Health Law; Intellectual Property; International Law; and Litigation and Dispute Resolution.* The required concentration paper also may be used to satisfy the Upperclass Writing Requirement.
*NOTE: The Transactional Practice Concentration has replaced the Business Organizations and Finance Concentration. Students in the Class of 2013 who are in the Business Organizations and Finance Concentration may still complete that concentration.
BU Law has18 dual-degree programs. In 11 of those programs, students earn a JD and a a graduate degree from another Boston University School or Department in less time than it would take to pursue the two degrees independently. (The newest program is the Accelerated 3-Year JD/MBA with the School of Managment..)
Unlike the concentrations, which focus on law, the dual-degree programs allow students to supplement their law studies with course work in other disciplines that informs their study of law and provides a broader background. For example, in the JD/MS in Mass Communication program, students interested in law practice in the rapidly changing communication field learn about new communication technologies, which will help them understand clients’ businesses. Students in the JD/Master’s in Public Health program learn about concepts such as epidemiology and health policy and management.
We also offer six-semester programs with the BU Law graduate programs in Banking and Financial Law and in Taxation. Students may earn a JD degree and and LL.M. (Masters of Law) degree in three years, less time than it would take to pursue both degrees independently. Those programs also offer seven-semester JD/LL.M. programs.
Students also may apply through our study abroad programs for a JD/LL.M. in European Law with Université Panthéon-Assas in Paris, France; a JD/LL.M. in Chinese Law with Tsinghua University; a JD/LL.M. in Asian Legal Studies with the National University of Singapore; a JD/LLM in International and European Business Law with the Universidad Pontificia Comillas de Madrid in Spain; or a JD/LLM in Finance with the Institute for Law and Finance in Frankfurt, Germany. (These are year-long programs open to third-year students only).