UDM Law Curriculum

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law changed the way lawyers are educated with its revolutionary curriculum. Its curriculum comple­ments traditional theory- and doctrine-based coursework with practical learning, providing a solid transi­tion between law school and a legal career. The entire curriculum not only addresses the third year and critical transition to practice, but enhances the first and second years with more legal theory, intensive legal writing, required clinical experience, and an international perspective. UDM has transformed its cur­riculum to address the challenges you will face in the profession.

Solving Legal Problems

Analytical Tools is a required first-year course taught in the spring semester. It is designed to serve both as a capstone to the first-year curriculum and as a foundation for your second-year doctrinal courses, the third-year Law Firm Program, and subsequent entry into the practice of law.

To that end, the course is designed to be experiential and integrative. It is meant to increase students' awareness of the gap that exists between law as an intellectual discipline and law as it is practiced by law­yers. The later requires that in order to serve their clients, lawyers focus on the facts of their particular case and on the finite universe of practical options available to them and their clients.

The course will be taught using a problem-based methodology, raising issues that call for the simultaneous application of multiple bodies of substantive law (e.g., torts, contract, and civil procedure).

To solve these problems, students will acquire a "tool kit" of skills and methodologies, many of which are not typically emphasized in a first-year curriculum, including decision and game theory, finance, and economic analysis of law.

As in the practice of law, assessment will be based in part on the student's individual work and in part on group exercises.

Building a Bridge to Practice

After the first year, UDM helps students make the transition from school to practice, from a theoretical approach to a practical approach. Students continue to hone their legal research and writing skill, with legal writing assignments in all required courses. Since these assignments are coordinated among the re­quired courses, students undertake a wide range of writing projects about key issues in Evidence, Criminal Law, Taxation, Professional Responsibility, and Constitutional Law. Students also participate in a required clinic or externship, bringing them face-to-face with real clients with real problems, and select an interna­tional or comparative law course to become familiar with other legal systems.

Working in the Law Firm Program

In the third or final year, UDM law students are required to work on complex transactions in the Law Firm Program. As in a law firm, they work with their colleagues in "departments," so that different groups of students work on the different aspects of the transaction. These students then see how the environmen­tal piece, and the tax piece, and the employment law piece, and the intellectual property piece, and others, all come together in this transaction. These department modules introduce them to "large firm" issues and to "smaller" or "boutique" firm issues. Students draft documents, complete due diligence, receive instruc­tion from "clients" and much more. While all students in their third or last year are required to take at least two separate "departments" or courses related to the transaction, students may spend much of their final year in UDM School of Law applying their knowledge to different aspects of this simulated transac­tion by taking additional Law Firm Program departments. more...