Fordham Law School banner photo


Curricular Guidance for Upper Class Students from Associate Dean Foster

Dear Student,

This Curriculum Guide provides an overview of the substantive areas in which the Law School offers courses. The Guide is intended to assist you in charting out a course of study that reflects your academic interests and professional goals, whether you approach the Guide with a strong sense of what field you plan to specialize in or whether you are interested in exploring a wide array of topics.

The narratives in each subject area give a general overview of the topics covered within a specific grouping of courses as well as specific recommendations regarding the sequencing of certain courses. Because so many substantive areas of the law intersect and complement each other, we have provided links within each subject area to other relevant areas within the Guide. The Guide also notes clinical offerings and other programs within the Law School that relate to a specific subject area. Please note that additional student-run organizations and journals within the Law School allow for further opportunities to explore these topics in depth through scholarship, networking events, competitions or pro bono work.

Beyond the courses required of all students for graduation (Constitutional Law, which will be taught in the 2L year to all students entering in 2011 and later; Corporations; Professional Responsibility; and courses that satisfy the skills and writing requirements, all outlined in greater detail in the Law School’s Academic Regulations), you may tailor your course of study to meet your personal objectives. However, there are certain courses which I would recommend to all students as they consider the Law School’s elective offerings:

♦ Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Income Taxation, and (for students admitted in 2010 and earlier), Administrative Law, while not required courses, address core aspects of many areas of practice and would contribute greatly to any student’s overall understanding of fundamental concepts in the law.  In the Registrar’s recent sampling of other schools, these courses were on the list of electives with top enrolments at every law school that responded.  I recommend that you take at least some of these courses in your second year, rather than saving them all up for the year before you graduate.

♦ Given the changes in legal practice in a global economy, I suggest that each student take at least one international law course, such as International Law, International Business Transactions or International Trade. Students interested in international aspects of legal practice can also take a wide variety of specialized offerings.

♦ Prospective litigators should also take Federal Courts, while those considering a career as a transactional lawyer should take the course in Corporate Finance or Securities Regulation. These courses also serve as gateways to more specialized electives. Students interested in federal court clerkships are well-advised to take Federal Courts, as well as Evidence and Criminal Procedure.

♦ I recommend that 2L students take a small course that involves writing and is taught by a member of Fordham’s full-time faculty.  This will allow you to get to know a professor more personally, and to receive individual faculty feedback on your written work.

♦ All students are required to take a designated "professional skills" class. I urge you to go beyond the minimum required, and take advantage of more of the Law School’s outstanding clinical offerings, simulation courses and externship opportunities. The Fundamental Lawyering Skills course both fulfills the professional skills requirement, and is a pre- or co-requisite for our clinical offerings. We also offer a variety of drafting courses by practice specialty, listed in the Curriculum Guide under the Legal Writing Program.  Advanced Legal Research classes, covering both general skills and specific subjects, provide students with knowledge of and confidence in modern research methods and allow students to demonstrate mastery of a practical skill set.  Our clinics, externships, and simulation courses allow students to develop effective advocacy skills and to gain exposure to the demands of representing clients in a variety of practice environments. 

♦ A well-rounded legal education also includes courses in jurisprudence, legal theory, and legal history, which help students gain broader perspectives on the law and the legal system.

♦ Students often ask what they can do to enhance their chance of bar passage.  In general, I encourage you to choose upper class courses with the goal of getting a well-rounded education,  pursuing your areas of interest, and experiencing a range of pedagogical methods (exam-based courses, seminars with papers, and experiential classes), rather than seeking to cover bar topics.  Most of your preparation for the bar exam will occur over the summer after graduation, in a bar review course.  However, and in particular if you have struggled with law school exams, taking a few bar subjects in your last year may help provide a conceptual framework for organizing the detailed information you will be memorizing over the summer.  In addition, one strategy that seems to increase bar passage rates is to take several exam classes in your last semester before graduation, so you are in the habit of writing exams when it comes time to take the bar. 

♦ For students who want a list of the topics that will be tested on the bar exam:

The multi-state bar exam tests Evidence and Criminal Procedure in addition to the required courses Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Real Property, and Torts. 

Subjects on the New York bar exam can be found here: [http://www.nybarexam.org/Content/ContentOutline.htm]

Subjects on the New Jersey bar exam can be found here:  [http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/supreme_doc/njbarexams/pdfs/barbook.pdf]. 

To give you further insight into courses seen as “core” by your peers, here is a list of the top ten upper class courses at Fordham, with average enrollments per year.  

 1.  Evidence (429)
 2.  Fundamental Lawyering Skills (378) 
 3.  Securities Regulation (255)
 4.  Criminal Procedure/Adjudication (250)
 5.  Taxation (214)
 6.  New York Practice (202)
 7.  Trial Advocacy (179)
 8.  Trusts and Wills (155)
 9.  Banking Law/Financial Institutions (128)
10. International Business Transactions (123)                                                                 

It is important to seek out advice from faculty and other members of the Fordham community as to which courses and related activities best match your interests and goals. I urge you to seek such input early in your law school career so that you may take introductory courses early on to be eligible for advanced specialized courses that may have pre-requisites.

As a final note, not all courses described in this guide are offered every semester or even every year.  For a listing of courses to be offered in a specific term, consult the course schedule provided by the Registrar's Office. An alphabetical list of all course descriptions is located here: http://law.fordham.edu/16158.htm

The Curriculum Guide contains hyperlinks to course descriptions. These descriptions are intended for general information only. Descriptions for courses with the same title may vary over time and from professor to professor. Please be sure to review the course descriptions that are linked to the registration materials for the particular semester that you are considering taking a class.

As a final note, the Registrar and I have set up an online chat room during the week of registration each term. You can find the chat room under “Registrar Chat” on the main page of the Office of Registrar. I am always happy to speak with you regarding our course offerings and your upper level elective choices.  Please do not hesitate to contact me at sfoster@law.fordham.edu.

Sheila Foster
Vice Dean
Albert A. Walsh Professor of Law
Co-Director, Stein Center for Law & Ethics