The Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree is awarded upon recommendation by the faculty of the law school. Eligibility for the degree requires compliance with all rules and regulations, which are set out in the Student Handbook available to students. For general guidance the J.D. degree requirements are summarized below.
To graduate with the J.D. degree, students must complete at least 85 credits. Please note that minimum and maximum credit loads per semester will apply to spread this credit load across a student’s course of study.
Prior to graduation, all students must complete:
- The first-year program of instruction
- A course in professional responsibility
- Two upperclass writing requirements, and
- A skills training requirement
First Year Program
The first-year program of instruction is designed to examine and foster an understanding of the processes by which law is made, the institutions that make law, and the analytical skills necessary in the professional use of case law and legislation. The first-year curriculum provides a general understanding of the American legal system, sharpens the student's analytical ability and lays the foundation of the basic working skills of a lawyer.
Many first-year classes meet in large sections of approximately 80-125 students. In contrast, the Fundamentals of Law Practice course, which begins students’ skills training with an emphasis on legal writing and research, meets in small sections of approximately 20 students.
Additionally, all full-time first-year students enroll in a seminar section, comprised of approximately 40 students, as one of their fall term core courses. These smaller courses afford students the opportunity to learn in a more intimate and informal atmosphere. Many of the assignments in the seminars also provide training in skills such as negotiation, counseling, drafting, interviewing and oral argument. Instructor feedback is an important element of these seminars, and the students work closely with faculty on their assignments throughout the semester.
Summer Semester (first or second)
Every year, Brooklyn Law School students engage in the extremely important process of selecting their courses and planning their upperclass programs for the following academic year. Students have an enormous amount of autonomy to structure their upperclass years, choosing from among over 240 courses in a wide variety of areas. The Law School provides a great many tools to help students make informed choices about the kinds of classes, clinics, seminars, lawyering skills courses, and other academic offerings they wish to take during those years.
Each spring we hold faculty panel discussions to provide students an opportunity for guidance on course selection from faculty members and officials from the deans’ and registrar’s offices. Faculty members also make themselves available to counsel students on an individual and ad hoc basis.
Students must fulfill the professional responsibility requirement by completing one of the following courses:
- Professional Responsibility (2 credits)
- Legal Profession (3 credits)
- Legal Malpractice Seminar (2 credits)
These courses analyze the duties and responsibilities of the legal profession, including its history, goals and structure, and undertake a detailed analysis and discussion of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
Substantial Upper Level Writing Requirement
Students can use various writing experiences to satisfy the upper level writing requirement, including coursework in certain upper level writing courses and seminars, or independent study. This requirement is intended to provide each student with:
- A significant research experience
- An opportunity for in-depth study and analysis (involving sustained reflection) of a particular area of the law
- An opportunity to articulate his or her own ideas and evaluation of the law
- A faculty-supervised writing experience involving at least one re-write of a substantial piece of the student’s writing
All four of these goals must be met for a project to satisfy the requirement.
Additional Upper Level Writing Requirement
The additional writing requirement may be satisfied through law review and journal notes, documents prepared in Legal Drafting classes, and documents prepared in other settings approved by a faculty committee. In order to satisfy the additional requirement, the work must be the result of legal research and analysis, demonstrate the proper use of authority and must be clearly written. The work must be a minimum of 2,000 words.
Students must complete at least 6 credits in designated skills courses, which must include credits from at least one live-client experience. Please note that the upper level writing requirement and skills training requirement may not be fulfilled using the same course.
Extended 4-Year J.D. Program
Our 4-year extended J.D. is designed for working students who want to keep their careers on track. Classes are held in the evening after 6 pm. Learn more about this option.