First Year

Georgetown Law’s first-year program is designed to provide students with the foundation for upperclass studies by introducing the major areas of substantive law while developing the analytical, research and writing skills required of all lawyers.


Students take 30 credits of required coursework. They also have the opportunity to request a seat in an optional one-credit simulation course during “Week One,” which takes place in early January.  The first-year classroom instruction is complemented by “1L 101”, a series of presentations led by faculty and administrators on topics including reading and briefing cases, synthesizing the material, and preparing for exams.


Two first-year curricula are available to Georgetown Law students in the full-time program: Curriculum “A” and Curriculum “B”. Students in the two curricula take the same number of credits and are subject to the same faculty-recommended grading curve. Four full-time sections are instructed under Curriculum “A,” the traditional first-year curriculum which parallels those at all major law schools. One full-time section is instructed under Curriculum “B,” which offers an innovative and integrated approach to the study of law.

Curriculum “A”

Students in Curriculum “A” take Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law I: The Federal System, Contracts, Criminal Justice, Legal Practice: Writing and Analysis, Property, Torts, and a First-Year Elective (a 3-credit elective in the spring semester drawn from two categories: legislative/regulatory law and international/comparative/transnational law). For course descriptions and the current schedule, see the first-year schedules in our Curriculum Guide.

Curriculum “B”

Students in Curriculum “B” take Bargain, Exchange, and Liability; Democracy and Coercion; Government Processes; Foundations of American Legal Thought Seminar; Legal Practice: Writing and Analysis; Legal Process and Society; and Property in Time. For course descriptions and the current schedule, see the first-year schedules in our Curriculum Guide.

Week One Simulations

All first-year students have the opportunity to request a seat in the optional one-week, 1-credit course “First-Year Week One Simulations,” which meets in January.

In these Week One courses, students engage in scenarios that have been developed by Georgetown Law faculty to mirror situations that lawyers face in the real world, allowing students to practice critical legal skills such as conflict resolution, trial skills, interviewing, client counseling, legal document drafting, strategic planning, problem solving, teambuilding, stress management, presentation skills, professionalism, and emotional intelligence. Simulation courses are structured to provide opportunities for immediate feedback and reflection, giving students the supportive space to hone these legal skills before they need to rely on them in practice. For first-year students, the Week One courses are not only an introduction to experiential learning and the Law Center’s experiential education programming, but a first-hand view into lawyering competencies and law in practice.

First-Year Small Section Program

Each of the five full-time sections has approximately 100 students who take their classes together. In the fall semester, each student is also assigned to a smaller group of approximately 30 students for one of the required courses. Legal Practice: Writing and Analysis is also taught in a smaller class. These smaller class sizes encourage class participation and allow faculty to use teaching techniques that are better suited to a smaller class setting.

These small sections provide each student with a smaller cohort of peers to share the first-year experience. Study groups, as well as friendships, often form within these small sections and the faculty members who teach them often become informal advisors to students. Small section professors often host a brunch or dinner for their students as an opportunity for interaction beyond the classroom.

Second and Third Years

Full-time students enroll in 10 to 16 credits each semester, working toward the 85 total credits needed to graduate. After you set aside credits for the required upperclass courses described below, you will have a large number of elective credits to build your portfolio. Georgetown Law’s course offerings are both wide-ranging and deep. Useful aids in planning your upperclass curriculum will be our Curriculum Guide, the Registrar’s Course Registration Information page, our academic advisors, and our career counselors.

You must satisfy the following degree requirements along your journey.

Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement

The upperclass legal writing requirement is intended to provide students with the opportunity to refine the research and writing skills learned in the first year. It is also meant to develop the skills necessary to undertake writing projects on their own following graduation from law school. Students choose topics, submit outlines, prepare and submit a first draft, and complete a final paper of 6000 words or more (excluding footnotes) in consultation with faculty members in approved seminars (see the “WR” notation in the course schedule) or supervised research projects. See the Georgetown Law Student Handbook of Academic Policies for more information about this requirement.

Professional Responsibility Requirement

Each student must successfully complete an upperclass course meeting the Professional Responsibility requirement. To search for courses currently being offered that satisfy this requirement, see the courses listed at the bottom of the Legal Profession/Professional Responsibility cluster description. J.D. students may not satisfy their Professional Responsibility requirement by completing any Professional Responsibility courses offered in the Graduate Program.

Experiential Requirement

Students who matriculated at the Law Center in Fall 2016 or later must earn a minimum of 6 credits in experiential courses.

For More Information

For detailed information on the academic requirements of the J.D. degree, please see the Student Handbook of Academic Policies.