Academics

Curriculum Overview


The curriculum of The University of Alabama School of Law is traditional but certainly includes offerings in emerging areas of the law, including electives in environmental law, international law, intellectual property, white-collar crime, and business. The curriculum is also rich in clinical, advocacy, and skills offerings. Perspective offerings, such as legal history, legal philosophy, and the law in literature also are taught. Given the variety of our graduates' career paths, the curriculum must be both broad and outstanding in all of its components.

A law school graduate should have mastered the legal processes and should thoroughly grasp the role of law in ordering the affairs of society, both historically and contemporarily. The University of Alabama School of Law strives to provide its students with this understanding and with a firm base of knowledge and analytical skills.

Some graduates who initially enter law practice later become business executives, civic leaders, government officials, and judges in Alabama and around the nation. With this fact in view, the curriculum is designed to afford a comprehensive education in governmental processes and in the relation of law to a wide variety of contemporary problems. Whatever career graduates pursue -- from sole practitioner to corporate executive -- they should be well educated in the role of law in society and in our cultural heritage.

The law curriculum has been expanded-- particularly in the third year -- to include more seminars and elective courses that cut across traditional course lines and expose students to the complex problems with which lawyers and lawmakers must deal in modern life and that aim to increase students' understanding of the development of the legal order.

The method of instruction varies somewhat with the instructor and the subject matter. The case method is generally employed in the basic courses. Students study concrete cases and disputes in order to gain an understanding of legal concepts and the legal processes as they actually operate. Instruction proceeds through the medium of class discussion, often referred to as the Socratic method; the principles and techniques of the law are evoked in the give-and-take between instructors and students.

Seminars are classes with relatively small groups of students; instruction is on a more informal and advanced basis than in the basic courses. A high degree of participation in discussion, as well as substantial research and writing, is required of each student in a seminar. The drafting of legal instruments and preparation of legal memoranda constitute part of the work in some skills courses and seminars.

First-year students are required to carry out a closely supervised program in legal research and writing. They must also participate in a moot court program in appellate advocacy involving substantial library research.

Trial and appellate advocacy is an important part of the curriculum; as described elsewhere in this catalog, Alabama s students have been very successful in advocacy competitions. Also described elsewhere is the Law School's commitment to provide training in clinical offerings.

The law faculty is continuing to review the school's curriculum. It is possible that some changes will occur, perhaps next fall. Any changes would always be to improve the offerings, to the students' advantage. Please direct any questions about the curriculum to the Dean's office or Registrar's office.