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November 1, 2006

The Mandatory Third Year Curriculum

The comments by Doug Berman, Dean Kramer and others regarding the Law School curriculum remind me of how different Baylor is than most schools, and in its differences offers a contrast to the situations others describe.

At Baylor, the majority of the third-year curriculum is mandatory.   The concept of "third-year" students is somewhat skewed as we are on a quarter system, but it works out to roughly 70% of a student's last year in school being dedicated to required and especially intense classes.  The common impression left on students is that the third year is the hardest of all at Baylor.

At the center of this third-year program is the Practice Court program, which is required of all students.  In the first quarter of that program, all classes are required.  Each week, they receive about 7-10 hours of instruction on advanced civil procedure, 7-10 hours on evidence and related topics, and 2-3 hours on professional responsibility.  The reading load for these classes is very heavy.  In addition, on most afternoons in this quarter the students are busy with mandatory courtroom exercises, in which they serve as advocates, jurors, judges, and witnesses in several complete trials.   The second quarter consists of 7-10 hours of advanced civil procedure class, more exercises, and a few electives. 

Baylor has required Practice Court for over 80 years.  Whatever drawbacks it may present, it does keep the students very engaged in law school through their third year.

Mark Osler


November 1, 2006 in Teaching -- curriculum | Permalink


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I don't know if students are allowed to comment on here, but I wanted to point out that I chose Baylor in large part because of the Practice Court program. I did a lot of research, and I didn't want to waste money on a third year and not get anything out of it. I read a lot of articles/books/essays that suggested that law school really only needed one year to accomplish its goals. I wasn't about to waste my money on a school that followed that theory. So I chose Baylor, replete with required courses in all three years.

Maybe students aren't in the best position to propose curricular reform, but I know I'm not the only one in my class who chose Baylor, at least in part, for the Practice Court program.

Posted by: Jeremy Masten | Nov 2, 2006 12:56:36 PM

At Baylor can you attend all 4 quarters?

Posted by: Jason | May 25, 2007 8:51:23 PM

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