Law students design individual upper-class academic programs by selecting from a wide array of possibilities. They generally need not seek the specific approval of academic advisors. Courses which satisfy the professional responsibility and upper-class writing requirements for the J.D. degree are identified in the registration materials each term.
You are expected to become familiar with all Law School academic regulations, degree requirements, and requirements for membership in any individual State Bars which may interest you. You may then select the courses and programs best suited to your needs and interests. The freedom to plan your own course of legal study may, of course, create uncertainties. Information and sources of guidance are abundant.
Materials regarding individual courses, various areas of practice, and related courses are available on the Law School Web site (www.law.umich.edu). Information is also provided about curricular offerings by area of interest. Such areas include: public interest, litigation, international, environmental law, criminal law and others. Course evaluation summaries by teachers are also available in the Office of the Registrar. For additional assistance, panel discussions or course advising sessions are presented each year on general course selection and practice areas. These discussions feature general advice by faculty members, administrators, and local attorneys, including the wisdom of certain mixes of courses and programs and methods of selecting courses and faculty, along with specific prerequisites. Faculty also hold meetings each term to describe the various clinical law programs. In addition, the assistant dean for student life provides advice about course selection when he meets with students.
Your need for advice may remain after reading the materials and attending the available meetings. You should then seek individual assistance from either of the Assistant Deans for Student Affairs, the Registrar’s Office, or the faculty. The Law School Web site contains faculty biographies which detail their experience or knowledge by type of practice, substantive legal topic and/or geographic location. Finally, especially when a wide sampling is taken, the advice and recommendations of individual upperclass students, such as First-Year Information Fellows, Senior Judges, and Orientation Leaders, is useful.
Above all, make your own choices according to your intellectual and career interests and best assessment of which professors will stimulate you. Too often a student will select courses because the subject material will appear on a given State’s Bar examination or because a subject seems to be helpful for today’s practice with a particular employer. You can, with a broad, high-quality education, quickly master the fundamentals of a new field for a bar examination or educate yourself about a new field into which your employment calls you. Give yourself a chance through your studies to explore an area of potential interest, such as labor law, health law, or criminal procedure, or to expand your understanding of the nonlegal settings in which legal problems are presented through courses in economics, sociology or psychology within the Law School or through other departments of the University.
Current academic regulations permit students to count toward their J.D. degrees up to 12 credit hours of work taken in approved non-law courses, typically at the graduate level, which are relevant to your legal education. Sometimes, this work may be done at other universities. Interested students should contact the Office of Student Life for approval for non-law courses.
Audits of degree progress are available on-line at any time in Wolverine Access. Questions concerning matters such as reduced or excessive academic loads, deadlines, disenrollment, examinations, incomplete course work, dual degree programs, transfer credit, and petitions for waiver of a particular regulation should be directed to the Office of Student Life, which also provides official interpretations of the academic regulations and degree requirements.
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