J.D.- Juris Doctor Degree

University of Miami School of Law Bricks

The First Year – Learn to Think Like a Lawyer

The Juris Doctor degree at Miami Law is a full-time program combining a rigorous academic curriculum with professional training in critical lawyering skills. The 88-credit degree program is a full-time program requiring three academic years of study.

The unique introductory program helps first-year students master the technical aspects of the law as a basis for understanding its theory and substance. The program provides students with an essential foundation for exploring the political, commercial, and social dimensions of legal institutions.

How Miami Law’s 1L Program Is Unique

The first-year program is different from others in the country in several major respects – class size, electives and courses. One first-semester course is ordinarily taught in a small section and in the spring, an elective is available. In addition to the traditional, required first-year courses in Contracts, Property, Torts, Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, and Constitutional Law, all entering students take: 1) Elements of Law - Unlike most first-year courses which concentrate on specific substantive fields of law, Elements focuses explicitly on legal institutions, the theories underlying them, the process of legal reasoning and the ways in which the law evolves; and 2) Legal Communication and Research Skills - an intensive program in legal research and writing.

First Semester: Courses Credit Hours
Contracts or Property (4)
Torts (4)
Elements of Law (3)
Civil Procedure I (3)
Legal Communication & Research Skills I (2)
Second Semester: Courses (Credit Hours)
Contracts or Property (4)
Criminal Procedure (3)
U.S. Constitutional Law I (4)
Elective (3)
Legal Communication & Research Skills II (2)

 First Year Course Details

  • Civil Procedure I is an introduction to the process of civil litigation, emphasizing questions of jurisdiction, pleadings, discovery, remedies, and appellate review.
  • Contracts examines the purpose and scope of the legal protection accorded agreements. The course focuses on problems of contract formation and interpretation, remedies for breach of contract, the offer and acceptance of a contract, the effect of changed circumstances, and more complicated questions, such as contracts that are impossible to perform.
  • Criminal Procedure is an introduction to the criminal process with special emphasis on constitutional issues. It covers arrest, interrogation, search and seizure, the right to counsel and related topics.
  • Elements, described in more detail above, is an intensive study of selected materials aimed at developing an understanding of the theory and practice of American law.
  • Legal Communication and Research Skills I & II enable each first-year student to work closely with an instructor to develop skills in legal research, writing, and analysis, as well as brief-writing and oral argument.
  • Property focuses on basic principles governing private and public control over tangible and intangible resources, especially land. The course addresses concepts and policies concerning property and special concepts concerning real estate, such as estates in land, future interests, and the rule against perpetuities. The course also studies real estate transactions, recording, methods of title assurance, easements, covenants, and land use controls.
  • Torts considers the issues involved in assessing whether the law should require a person to compensate another for harm intentionally or unintentionally inflicted. It analyzes the public policy positions implicit in the legal concepts that courts use in tort cases, as well as the ways in which social problems and the law of torts interact.
  • U.S. Constitutional Law I is a study of the American constitutional system, concentrating on the idea of judicial review, relationships among the three branches of government, and allocations of responsibility between federal and state governments.
  • Electives: In addition to these courses, second-semester students will choose an elective from a list of five courses for first-year students. These courses deal with regulatory issues, statutory law, international and comparative law, other matters of public law and process, and conceptual perspectives not generally available in the traditional first-year program. The following are representative of the elective course offerings:
    • Administrative Law
    • Analysis of Evidence
    • Environmental Law
    • European Community Law
    • Family Law
    • Housing Discrimination
    • Jurisprudence
    • Labor and Employment Law
    • Social Justice
    • Substantive Criminal Law

Second and Third Year - Build Knowledge & Put it into Practice

Miami Law students receive a broad-based legal education, and in their 2L and 3L years have the option to concentrate on special areas of interest. Accordingly, after the first year, the list of courses, seminars and workshops offered is extensive.


Explore Miami Law's 18 areas of study


Advanced Writing & Skills Courses 

After the first year of law school, students may choose from a rich array of writing and research electives. 

Sample Listing of Past Writing Courses

Advanced Techniques in Written Persuasion
Advanced Appellate Advocacy
Discovery in Civil Litigation
Effective Client Communications
Electronic Discovery
Florida Legal Research Techniques
Judicial Writing
Intellectual Property-Drafting

Introduction to Academic Writing
Legal Research Techniques
Mastering Summary Judgment Motions
Pretrial Litigation Practice
Rule 56: Mastering Summary Judgment Motions
Trial Strategies
Writing & Editing for Lawyers


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