Academic Planning Advice
Academic Planning: General Advice
Mary A. Hotchkiss, Director of Academic Planning
As you consider what courses to take next year, I
encourage you to share information with each other.
Seek advice from upper-class students, your peer
mentors, professional mentors, and faculty mentors. You
can talk to any faculty member, not just your mentor.
Consider talking to a professor whose class you might
like to take. Please remember that not everyone in a
course will emerge with the same experience. Weigh the
information you receive carefully. Some general points
to keep in mind:
Plan a balanced program: After your first year, you
have only three requirements: a course in Professional
Responsibility, 60 hours of Public Service, and
completion of an advanced writing project. You need a
minimum of 135 credits to graduate. This means you
have 85+ hours of electives. Plan a course of study that
provides a strong, general foundation for practice.
Although we offer seven "concentration tracks," there is
no expectation that when you graduate you will be a
specialist or have focused on specific subject areas.
- Balance paper and exam courses, doctrinal courses
and perspectives courses, skills courses, and field
experiences. Take a "liberal arts" approach to your
legal education: sample different areas of legal
practice through seminars and electives outside your
primary areas of interest.
- We offer multiple sections of various upper-level
electives each year: Administrative Law, Basic
Income Tax, Civil Procedure II, Closely Held
Business Organizations, Criminal Procedure,
Evidence, Family Law, Federal Courts, and Secured
Transactions. Other heavily-subscribed electives
include Community Property, Indian Law,
International Law, Negotiations, Payment Systems,
Pre-Trial Practice, Sales, and Torts II. Be sensitive
to timing issues; many electives are prerequisites for
specialized courses or clinics.
Keep the bar exam in mind: Taking a variety of
courses in core areas helps prepare you for the bar exam
and practice. Bar subjects vary from state to state. We
have posted on the web a list of relevant courses that
address subjects tested on the Washington State bar in
Capitalize on our strengths: One of our strengths is
our lawyering skills curriculum. The curriculum includes
clinics and externships, simulation courses, research and
writing courses, and advocacy courses. We have an
outstanding selection of clinics, including: Child
Advocacy, Entrepreneurial Law, Immigration Law,
Innocence Project Northwest, Low-Income Taxpayer,
Mediation, Refugee Advocacy, Tribal Court Criminal
Defense, and Unemployment Compensation Law. We
also have a variety of simulation courses that provide
experience in interviewing and counseling clients,
negotiating on behalf of clients, and participating in
mock hearings or trials. Our Trial Advocacy series offers
students small-group instruction and extensive feedback.
And upper-level research and writing courses and
seminars provide excellent opportunities to develop and
refine critical practice skills.
Another strength is our support for interdisciplinary
study. Today’s attorneys need to understand the
relationship between law and other disciplines such as
international studies, business, medicine, history,
philosophy, the social sciences and the humanities.
While some law students will pursue concurrent degrees,
all students should consider courses, in and outside of the
law school, that add perspective on the law and its role in
The bottom line: You have tremendous freedom to
shape your course of study. Take the time to develop a
strong, balanced knowledge base. While planning a
coherent academic program is your individual
responsibility, remember that faculty and staff are ready,
willing, and able to offer their assistance.
We encourage you to take advantage of the planning
sessions over the next 20 days, whether hosted by your
peer mentors, by concentration track advisors, or general
advising offered by Academic Services.