The JD Program

Spend time with the basics. Being a lawyer is challenging – and rewarding – work. We’ve calibrated our 1L curriculum to cover both the fundamentals of legal theory and the realities of modern legal practice. Required first year classes will set the stage for your success in law school and on the bar exam. You’ll spend a year immersed in the principles of the law, from the nature of contracts to the power of the Constitution.

Writing is also central to lawyering. Employers care about solid writing skills, and you’ll build the foundation for professional legal writing in your Research, Writing, and Advocacy class. You’ll learn about the legal reasoning process through writing exercises and research assignments. Along the way, you’ll work with our dedicated legal writing experts and our incredibly supportive law librarians. Small class sizes mean personalized feedback as you build these critical skills in this demanding and important course.

Be curious. Once your 1L year is over, you’ll be free to select most of your own courses for the next two years. MSU Law offers around 140 different electives every year.

Not sure what kind of law you’re planning to practice? You’ll have room to explore and to take courses on topics that you’ve never encountered before, opening up exciting career avenues. You’ve probably heard of Constitutional Law, but you might not be familiar with the unique practice environment of Indigenous Law. Your coursework will also provide a springboard for hands-on learning experiences – from externships to clinics.

Choose your path. If you already know your niche, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to develop your interests, and to pick classes that align with your ambitions. Our exceptional range of electives covers everything from integrating legal technology into running your own firm in Entrepreneurial Lawyering to the philosophical questions of global humanitarian law in International Human Rights.

You can tailor your course selections to reflect how you prefer to learn.

Elective courses offer a range of instructional styles:

Classic Socratic lectures with 80 students
Small seminars where students lead the discussion
Hands-on laboratories and skills courses taught by practitioners
Performance-based trial courses
Research classes that culminate in publication-ready papers

You can also take six credits of coursework at MSU’s prestigious graduate schools. Our students benefit from classes in Labor and Industrial Relations, Social Work, Urban Planning, the world-class Broad School of Business, and many more.

Work with experts. Our faculty members are passionate about their areas of research and practice, and our electives represent the impressive range of their interests. MSU Law professors are leaders in animal law, law and religion, and international human rights law, and you’ll have the opportunity to work closely with them in small classes. Mentoring relationships can be a great source of career opportunities (and professional recommendations).

Study abroad. Explore the law while you’re exploring another country over the summer. MSU Law offers three study abroad programs that reflect niches in legal study. These programs are led by standout professors in their fields who have a passion for introducing students to exciting new cultures.

  • Intellectual Property in Croatia: explore copyright, patent, and cyberlaw from an international perspective in a Croatian resort town with American and European students.
  • International Relations in Japan: learn about the relationship between Japan/US relationship from a constitutional, transactional, and comparative perspective while staying in an ancient cultural center.