Curriculum & Requirements

JD students at Suffolk University Law School complete required courses in common law and constitutional tradition balanced with a range of specialized electives to match the evolving needs of a national and global legal market.

Classroom teaching is complemented by clinical programs and internships that allow students to obtain practical experience. 

The Day Division is offered as a traditional three-year program or accelerated two-year program. Both require six semesters of study.

The Evening Division is designed for students who want to pursue a legal education on a part-time basis. The Evening Division is offered as a traditional four-year program or accelerated three-year program. Both require eight semesters of study. First-year Evening Division students usually attend classes three evenings a week, beginning at 6 p.m.

Day and Evening Division applicants are only accepted into the regular degree-seeking program. Applicants may not audit courses or apply for a conditional acceptance. A total of 84 semester hours is required to earn the JD degree.

As a candidate for admission you must choose to apply to either the Day or the Evening Division. Students who have completed the first academic year in the Law School, and who are in good academic standing, are eligible to transfer internally to either the Day or the Evening division.

Adopted by the Suffolk University Law School Faculty in April 2017

These learning outcomes identify the desired knowledge, skills, and values Suffolk University Law School believes its students should master upon their successful graduation.

A. In accordance with ABA Standard 302(A), the successful Suffolk graduate should know and understand substantive and procedural law. Specifically, graduates should:

  1. Learn the fundamental principles of Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Professional Responsibility, Property, and Torts.
  2. Comprehend substantive and procedural law through elective coursework appropriate to the professional and intellectual interests of each student.

B. In accordance with ABA Standard 302(B), the successful Suffolk graduate should be able to perform legal analysis and legal research, solve problems, and communicate effectively in the legal context. Specifically, graduates should demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Analyze legal issues orally and in writing by critically reading legal authority, synthesizing rules, evaluating facts, applying law to facts, and solving problems.
  2. Conduct accurate, thorough, and efficient legal research.
  3. Communicate in a concise, organized, professional, and timely manner appropriate to the audience and circumstances.

C. In accordance with ABA Standard 302(C), the successful Suffolk graduate should understand and exercise proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system. Specifically, graduates should demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Identify ethical issues and resolve them in a manner consistent with the law and rules governing lawyers.
  2. Maintain practice competencies through knowledge of relevant law, development of applicable skills, and understanding current practice technologies.
  3. Understand and apply a lawyer’s ethical duties to clients, including those associated with client centered representation in a world of diverse clients.
  4. Fulfill the public responsibilities of lawyers.

D. In accordance with ABA Standard 302(D), the successful Suffolk graduate should demonstrate other professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession. Specifically, graduates should demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Develop and analyze facts.
  2. Counsel clients.
  3. Negotiate on behalf of clients.
  4. Engage in self-evaluation toward life-long professional development, competence, and well-being.

For more information on general requirements, please see Academic Rules & Regulations, item 1A, "General Requirements."

Civil Procedure

Litigation of the modern unitary civil action. Jurisdiction of state and federal courts; law applied in federal courts; pleading, pretrial motions, and discovery; trial by jury and evidentiary law; the binding effects of adjudications.

Constitutional Law

Survey of the history and development of constitutional law in the United States, including the federal system, the commerce clause, intergovernmental relations, due process, equal protection, police power, taxation. Analysis of selected decisions of the United States Supreme Court. 

Contracts

Contracts defined and classified; capacity of parties; nature and legal effect of offer and acceptance; consideration; fraud, mistake and undue influence; statute of frauds; types of illegality; interpretation of language; operation of law; effect of express and implied conditions; performance of conditions; waiver of conditions; rescission of contracts; performance; excuses for nonperformance, including novation, alteration and impossibility of performance, breach of contract and remedies; damages, nominal and compensatory; quasicontracts, introduction to the Uniform Commercial Code; professional responsibility of the lawyer in contract law.    

Criminal Law

The course emphasizes the general principles, sources, and purposes of the criminal law, including the following doctrinal issues which apply to crimes in general: the act requirement, the mens rea requirement, causation, liability for attempted crimes, accomplice liability, defenses, and criminal code interpretation. Additionally, the course studies one or more specific crimes in-depth, including homicide, and repeatedly raises the question: how well does American criminal law fulfill its goals?    

Legal Practice Skills

The Legal Practice Skills Program is a two-semester, three-credit program for first year students including (a) an orientation to law school, the sources of law, and the study of law; (b) instruction in the use of the law library and legal research tools; (c) practice in issue analysis and the writing of legal memoranda; (d) preparation of trial briefs and oral arguments; and (e) an introduction to computerized legal research systems. The program is designed to prepare the student for the writing and research work expected of the modern practitioner.    

Property

A study of the acquisition, ownership, and transfer of property both personal and real, including an analysis of ownership concepts, rights of possession, donative transactions, future interests, concurrent interests, landlord and tenant issues, the conveyancing system and governmental regulations.    

Torts

General principles, sources and policies of modern tort law, including intentional torts (such as assault, battery and false imprisonment), negligence, strict liability, and products liability. Special attention is paid to the elements of recovery in negligence, including the standard of care, duty problems, and causation, to defenses, including comparative negligence and assumption of risk, and to principles of joint liability, contribution, and imputed liability. Recent statutory changes in these tort principles are also addressed.    

After the first year of study, the curriculum consists of a Base Menu and Advanced Electives. The Base Menu reflects the faculty’s belief that although students may begin their professional lives in very varied settings, there are fundamentals to the law as a whole that cannot be ignored.

Students are required to take one course within three out of the five following subject categories:

Administrative/Regulatory Law

Basic Income Tax

Business Entity Fundamentals

Commercial Law

Evidence

All students must enroll in 3 out of 5 of the Base Menu Subject Areas
Any one or any number of these courses will satisfy the Base Menu Requirement for that subject only.

Experiential Learning Definitions and Requirements

 

ABA Standards 303 and 304 require all students entering law school beginning in fall 2015 to complete six credits of experiential courses in order to graduate.

Experiential courses fall into three categories.

  1. A Law Clinic. In a Law Clinic, students are provided with substantial lawyering experiences that involve advising or representing actual clients. Law Clinics include direct supervision of the students’ performance by faculty; opportunities for performance, feedback from faculty, and self-evaluation; and include a weekly seminar. Most full-year Clinics are offered for ten credits, six of which count towards this experiential requirement. Part-time Clinics and “Law Labs” are offered for fewer experiential credits (students should consult the course description for each part-time Clinic or Law Lab for the exact number of experiential credits offered).
  2. An Externship. An externship includes a field placement that provides students with a substantial lawyering experience that is reasonably similar that of a lawyer advising or representing clients or engaging in other lawyering tasks, as well as a classroom component or other means of faculty-guided reflection. An Externship also includes direct supervision of the students’ performance by faculty and/or a site supervisor; opportunities for performance, feedback from faculty and/or site supervisor, and self-evaluation. Students in Externships will sign a written agreement outlining the terms of their Externship and their educational achievement will be evaluated by a faculty member. Externships are offered for between 1 and 5 credits.
  3. A Simulation Course (listed below). Simulation courses include a classroom instructional component in which students are provided substantial experiences similar to those of lawyers advising or representing clients or engaging in other lawyering tasks in a set of facts and circumstances devised or adopted by faculty. Simulation courses also include direct supervision of the students’ performance by faculty, multiple opportunities for performance, and self-evaluation. Simulation Courses are offered for between 1 and 3 credits. The following courses meet the definition of "simulation course" as required by the ABA.  This list is not all inclusive - additional courses will be added as appropriate:

Can credits earned for trial team, moot court and other simulation based competitions qualify as a simulation course or count towards the required experiential credits?
No, unless these activities are part of or accompanied by a required classroom component.

Does Pro Bono or other work experience count?
No, only activities that are credit bearing count.

Can one course satisfy the Legal Writing Requirement and experiential credits? 
No, one course cannot satisfy both the upper level writing requirement and the experiential learning requirement.

Guidelines for Completion

STUDENTS ENTERING FALL 2015 OR LATER are subject to the Experiential Learning and Professional Development Requirements.

Prior to graduation, every student must satisfactorily complete:

  1. Six credits of upper-level experiential learning courses in accord with ABA Standards 303 & 304,
  2. Two continuing legal education seminars, and
  3. A minimum of 50 hours of practice-based learning completed through in any of the following ways:
    • First Year Summer Internship Program- Judicial placement;
    • 50 hours of legal work completed through the Pro Bono Program; or
    • 50 hours of legal work completed through the supervision of an attorney.

Upon completion of Sections 2 and 3 of this requirement, all students must submit certification of completion to the Office of Academic Services.

Part-time students in the Evening Division are exempt from section 3 of the requirement, but are encouraged to complete it.

Guidelines for completing Section 1:

Experiential opportunities are essential in preparing to be ready to work with real clients solving real legal problems. Toward that end, students are required to complete six (6) credits of experiential courses in order to graduate. Experiential courses fall into three categories: (1) a law clinic that provides students with substantial lawyering experiences that involve advising or representing actual clients; (2) an externship that includes a field placement that provides students with a substantial lawyering experience that is reasonably similar to that of a lawyer advising or representing clients or engaging in other lawyering tasks, as well as a classroom component; and (3) a simulation course in which students are provided substantial experiences similar to those of lawyers advising or representing clients or engaging in other lawyering tasks in a set of facts and circumstances devised or adopted by faculty.

All experiential education courses (clinics, externships, and simulations) will conform with ABA Standards 303 and 304.

Guidelines for completing Section 2:

It is important for law students to develop an appreciation for the importance of continuing legal education (CLE) and become active members of the legal community. To promote law student professional development, the Law School requires every student to attend two continuing legal education seminars prior to graduation. Students are encouraged to attend member free programming delivered through the Boston and Massachusetts Bar Associations identified as “Suffolk PDR,” but may attend any program offered through other CLE providers that meet these guidelines. In order for a CLE seminar to qualify as satisfying Section 2, the program must: (1) have a minimum duration of 75 minutes; (2) provide professional education for licensed lawyers related to substantive law, practice and procedure, lawyer ethics and the rules of professional conduct, practical experiences in legal practice, and/or current cutting-edge issues related to legal practice and the delivery of legal service; and 3) be delivered live and attended in person. Students must register for each CLE program prior to attending and are responsible for obtaining a certificate of completion and submitting it to the Office of Academic Services. CLE qualification questions should be addressed to your PCD counselor or the Associate Dean for Professional & Career Development.

Guidelines for completing Section 3:

Practical work experience is an essential part of legal training. Students may satisfy the practice-based learning requirement by completing a minimum of 50 hours of legal work under the supervision of an attorney through part-time or summer employment, the Law School’s Pro Bono Program, and/or a First Year Summer Internship Program- Judicial placement. All Day Division students must submit one or more completed Professional Development Requirement Form - Employment Certifications to the Office of Academic Services after they complete 50 hours of paid or volunteer work for a licensed attorney or judge.

Professional Development Requirement Form

This course examines the ethical responsibilities of, and the power of the courts over, the legal profession. Read the Professional Responsibility course description.

All students should take at least one of the Perspectives courses listed below before graduation. The purpose of the recommendation is to help students develop an analytical perspective on our legal system, by viewing it through the lens of another discipline, probing the foundations, values or assumptions underlying our legal institutions, or studying alternatives to our own doctrinal approach to legal problem