USF School of Law Reshapes JD Curriculum

Posted Mon, 04/17/2017 - 10:17

The USF School of Law is implementing significant changes to the JD curriculum to better prepare students to pass the bar examination and hit the ground running as lawyers.

Beginning this fall, students will benefit from new courses and innovative teaching methods, including more units in topics tested on the bar exam and more opportunities to do writing assignments and receive detailed feedback.


“The academic literature and our own internal analyses suggest that the more courses covering bar subjects that students take, the more likely they are to pass a bar examination,” said Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Josh Davis. “In addition to changing what we teach, we are changing how we teach. Our faculty will be providing students with opportunities to write during the semester and receive feedback on their work. This will build on recent progress we have made in giving students individualized feedback, something we know improves their law school performance, their likelihood of passing the bar, and their success in legal practice.”

Incoming 1L students this fall will enjoy the full benefit of the curriculum change, although continuing students will also be required to fulfill some of the new course requirements.

Curricular changes include:

  • More Courses in Bar Exam Topics: The law school has added additional courses in subjects that are tested on the bar examination, including Contracts, Civil Procedure, Property, and Torts. The school also increased the number of units students are required to take in courses covering  subjects tested on the bar exam.
  • More Courses in Bar Exam Skills: The school has added a series of courses that teach students the skills they need to pass the three parts of the California bar exam: writing, multiple choice, and professional skills. One of these courses, Legal Drafting, is now required of all students. Other courses are being offered for credit for the first time, including a course on taking multiple choice questions that is available to graduating students.
  • More individualized feedback for students from faculty: The USF faculty is changing how it teaches, moving away from the traditional law school model of a single final exam accounting for 100 percent of a student’s grade. In order to give students an opportunity during the semester to find out what they are doing well and what they need to work on, all full-time professors will now give midterms or other assignments and provide detailed feedback.

“These changes are transforming legal education at USF,” Dean John Trasviña said. “From the first semester to the last, a USF legal education will equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to launch a successful legal career from here.”