The purpose of this program is to give you--our esteemed students---some specific guidance, provided directly by our faculty, as you explore your course planning options through law school. (Prospective students too may find this site helpful in scoping out the exciting diversity of courses and curricular paths WCL offers.) Attending law school at WCL means that you will have the opportunity to explore the great breadth and richness of our curriculum, delivered through our nationally renowned faculty’s commitment to the very highest quality teaching of our students. With this Website, we hope to give you an on-line trail map for your intellectual and professional odyssey through WCL.
For current students selecting courses, we encourage careful deliberation about your personal pathway through law school in light of your possible career interests upon graduation. These interests may still be unsettled and may span several fields. Such uncertainty is fine and perfectly normal; it is always a good idea to leave a number of doors to your future open, and working your way through various pathways on this website will allow you to consider and account for the different kinds of preparation that different career trajectories may call for. Each individual’s course of study, experiential learning and summer activities are different here; there are many combinations of courses that you can take and experiences you can have.
Whatever our subject matter expertise, no WCL professor recommends that you take only courses related to one specific career path in law school. Rather, we encourage you to be well-rounded in your course choices even after the First Year required courses are over, taking some “foundational” law school courses that help prepare you for practice in many fields, such as Business Associations, Administrative Law, and Evidence, as well as some more specialized courses that focus on mastery of complex legal materials in specific substantive fields of interest. Taking more theoretical or historical “Perspectives” courses can provide you with different ways of thinking about law and your place as a lawyer within various legal systems.
Furthermore, “experiential” learning opportunities, in which you gain hands-on experience in law practice in various settings, are also increasingly important. To pursue this aspect of your legal education you can take part in WCL’s nationally renowned clinics, where you represent real clients in real cases. Remember that in clinical training the kind of substantive law you are practicing is often less important than the client representation, professional responsibility, and reflective learning skills you are gaining, as most of these skills are transferrable and are best learned early in your career. While at WCL you can also take advantage of the enormous variety of legal externships available in the Washington, D.C., area. You can also extern in other parts of the country and even in other parts of the world through innovative long-distance externship programs. Simulated skills courses such as trial advocacy are also rewarding and a welcome change from a straight diet of classroom work.
The pages within give general, faculty-written introductions to more than two dozen areas of law in which you may be interested in practicing, along with lists of courses currently offered that are “foundational” to these subjects, “key electives” in various subject areas, “experiential” opportunities, and, finally, “related” courses, which may round out your knowledge in particular fields. We also list our faculty members teaching in each of these areas, and we strongly encourage you to come us see for more specific curricular-planning advice. We are here to help you make your law school experience a success.
To get started, simply visit any of the entryways into various pathways as shown on the right. Don’t worry too much about where you start; you will always be able to jump between and across pathways as you go. It’s kind of like life like that. The key thing is to think about what you are doing.
The Faculty of American University Washington College of Law