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2L and 3L

Upper-class Curriculum

For first year law students at Cornell Law School, all courses are required. This creates a solid foundation for the rest of law school. In contrast to the first year law curriculum, there are no required courses during a law student’s second and third years of study (upper-class years), but there are requirements that must be met.

Second Year Curriculum

Core Courses

The second year provides students an opportunity to broaden the foundation laid in the first year. Although these core courses are not required, the faculty strongly recommends that students take four core courses during the second year:

  • Administrative Law
  • Business Organizations
  • Evidence
  • Federal Income Taxation

Perspective and Skills Courses

The importance of broadening along a different dimension is reflected in the faculty’s recommendation that all students take a “perspective course” and a “skills course.” Students generally take a perspective course and a skills course in the second year.

A perspective course offers perspective on current United States law and legal institutions through a theoretical or comparative approach or the use of another discipline.

A skills course emphasizes the application of legal theory and doctrine in the performance of fundamental lawyer’s tasks such as interviewing, fact investigation, counseling, negotiation, drafting, and advocacy.

Recent Skills Courses:

  • Appellate Advocacy
  • Dispute Resolution
  • US Attorney’s Office
  • Clinic Capital Trial Clinic
  • Trial Advocacy

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Third Year Curriculum

In the third year, students diversify or specialize through pursuit of individual interests. A wide range of elective courses, including many seminars and problem courses, makes that possible. The third year also permits concentration through in-depth study of a single field. To encourage this use of the final year, the school offers the opportunity to concentrate in one of four areas:

  • Advocacy
  • Business law and regulation
  • Conflict Resolution
  • General practice
  • Public law
  • Technology and Law


All students must satisfy two specific upper-class course requirements:

  • A course which satisfies a writing requirement
  • A course dealing with issues of professional responsibility

The law school offers numerous courses which satisfies these two course requirements.

Recent Professional Responsibility Courses:

  • Law and Ethics of Business Practice
  • The Law Governing Lawyers
  • Ethical Issues in Criminal Practice
  • Pretrial Practice, Litigation Strategies, and Remedies in Commercial Litigation
  • Philosophical Foundations of Legal Ethics

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