The J.D. curriculum consists of a first-year curriculum of 32 required credit hours. Three courses are required in the upper level curriculum along with two elective areas and a writing requirement. Graduation for the J.D. requires completion of the required courses with a total of 90 credit hours.

First-Year Required Courses

Fall Semester Spring Semester
-Civil Procedure (3)
-Contracts (2)
-Criminal Law (3)
-Fundamental Legal Skills (3)
-Foundations of Law (1)
-Torts (4)

-Legal Research Foundations

 

Semester Total: 16 credit hours

- Civil Procedure II (3)
- Contracts II (3)
- Criminal Procedure (3)
- Fundamental Legal Skills II (2)
- Property (4)

- Legal Research Foundations (1)*

 

Semester Total: 16 credit hours

Year Total: 32 credit hours

*Legal Research Foundations is 1 credit and consists of 7 weeks of instruction in the Fall and 7 weeks in the Spring semester.

Second-Year Required Courses

Fall Semester Spring Semester
- Constitutional Law (4)
- Evidence (3)

- Legal Profession (3)

 

Semester Total: 10 credit hours
No required courses. Students may choose electives and courses which meet the additional graduation requirements.
Year Total: 10 credit hours

Third-Year Required Courses

No required courses. Students may choose electives and courses which meet the additional graduation requirements.

Additional Requirements for Graduation

These requirements may be met at any time in the upper-level curriculum. Additional requirements include a code course, experiential requirements, and a writing requirement.

*Code Course Requirement (select at least one course):

  • Sales (Commercial Law)
  • Federal Income Tax
  • Secured Transactions
  • Environmental Law

*Experiential Learning Requirement (select 6 credit hours):

 Clinics/Practica  Externships++  Simulation Courses
 Low Income Taxpayer Clinic I+
Externship (Fall)
Discovery Practice
 Low Income Taxpayer Clinic II+
Externship (Spring)
Legislation
Indigent Defense Practicum
Externship (Summer)
Mediation
Alaska Tax Practicum
  Trial Techniques
    Negotiation & Settlement
    SD Drafting and Legal Practice
    Antitrust and Consumer Protection

 

*Students must complete at least one of the above listed code courses for a minimum of three credits; members of the Class of 2017 must complete one of the experiential learning courses for a minimum of two credits (this will satisfy the old skills requirement). Members of the Class of 2018 and forward must earn a minimum of six experiential learning credits. Other code and skills courses may be taken as electives.

+Students who sign up for Low Income Taxpayer Clinic I must also sign up for Low Income Taxpayer Clinic II.

++Full-time students may enroll in the Externship course once they have completed at least 44 credits; flex students may enroll in the course once they have completed at least 40 credits.


Experiential Learning Policy

In order to support student interest in gaining exposure to multiple areas of law, as well as the desire to gain substantial practical training, the experiential learning policy has been designed with an eye toward facilitating those goals. The following policy limits have been put in place:

  • Students may earn no more than a total of 15 combined clinic and externship credits;
  • Students may earn no more than a total of 12 clinic credits;
  • Students may earn no more than a total of 9 externship credits;
  • Subject to the credit cap limits, students may enroll for credit in the same clinic or same field placement for no more than two semesters, or for no more than one summer and one semester;
  • Students may not enroll in both a clinic and an externship during the same semester;
  • Students may enroll in no more than one clinic per semester;
  • Students may enroll in no more than one externship per semester;

For the purpose of this policy, practicum courses will be treated as clinics.


Upper-Level Writing Requirement

The first way is by enrolling in and satisfactorily completing a “W” course during one semester of the student's second or third year of Law School. One or more such courses shall be offered each fall and spring semester, but not during the summer term. “W” courses will be identified on the schedule of courses by the presence of a “W” (writing required by professor as part of course) or “W/O” (writing requirement component at option of the student) near the number of the course on the schedule. The substance of the writing requirement of each “W” course will be determined by the professor teaching the course, who will also grade the written work. The requirement will be fulfilled by a substantial written product (a minimum equivalent of 25 double - spaced, typewritten pages) based on significant independent legal research by the student. At least two separate drafts must be submitted to the professor for the “W” requirement to be satisfied. The professor shall report satisfactory completion of the “W” component of the course separately to the Registrar in order for the Registrar to indicate on the student's record completion of the requirement for graduation. The percentage of the course grade allocated to the paper is at the discretion of the professor subject to syllabus notice requirements. The student must achieve a passing grade for both the paper and any separate coursework in order to complete the writing requirement. Students do not earn additional credit for “W” courses because of the writing involved.

The second way the upper level writing requirement may be satisfied is by taking Advanced Research with the express agreement by the professor that the Advanced Research is to be taken in satisfaction of that requirement. The paper must be the equivalent of at least 25 pages double - spaced in length and be based on significant independent legal research by the student. A least two separate drafts must be submitted to the professor for the “W” requirement to be satisfied by Advanced Research. The agreement to use Advanced Research to satisfy the “W” requirement must be clearly indicated on the form submitted by the student and signed by the professor to initiate the Advanced Research.

The third way the upper level writing requirement may be satisfied is by writing an appellate brief under the supervision of a faculty member. The brief must be the equivalent of at least 25 pages double - spaced in length. It must be based on significant independent legal research by the student. It may be on an issue that the student previously researched for a brief submitted with another student in a moot court competition. At least two separate drafts must be submitted to the faculty member for the “W” requirement to be satisfied by this option.

The fourth way the upper level writing requirement may be satisfied is by writing a law review article under the supervision of a faculty member. The article must be the equivalent of at least 25 pages double - spaced in length. It must be based on significant independent legal research by the student. It may be on an issue that the student previously researched for a law review article submitted to the USD Law Review. At least two separate drafts must be submitted to the faculty member for the “W” requirement to be satisfied by this option.