1L Curricula in the United States: 2023 Data and Historical Comparison

23 Pages Posted: 17 May 2023

See all articles by Prentiss Cox

Prentiss Cox

University of Minnesota Law School

Date Written: May 16, 2023


This article reports on a survey of the first year (1L) curricula at U. S. law schools. We were able to obtain data on the 1L course requirements, including credits for each course, at 191 of 196 ABA-accredited law schools. We compared this data to six other surveys of 1L curricula from 1919 to 2010. Important findings include the following: [1] credits for four almost universally required “Big 4” 1L courses (contracts, torts, property and civil procedure) continue a fifty year decline; [2] credits for legal research and writing continue to increase, so that legal writing is now the highest- credit course across 1L curricula; [3] within the last thirteen years, some law schools have begun to require a 1L legislation-regulation course and schools are increasingly likely to offer introductory non-doctrine courses; and [4] 1L course offerings differ by law school rank, with higher-ranked schools allotting fewer credits to the Big 4 courses but more likely to offer courses in constitutional law, legislation-regulation and electives.

Keywords: [Legal Education, curricula, 1L, first year law school, curriculum]

Suggested Citation

Cox, Prentiss, 1L Curricula in the United States: 2023 Data and Historical Comparison (May 16, 2023). Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 23-08, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4450371 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4450371

Prentiss Cox (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

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Minneapolis, MN 55455
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612 625 6810 (Phone)

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