Academic Curriculum

The three-year curriculum is intensive and challenging. It is designed to give students a solid foundation in legal analysis and practical lawyering skills that will serve them well in any field they choose to pursue. Class sizes are small to facilitate maximum professor-student interaction. Professors, who are selected and rewarded for their teaching excellence, set high expectations of themselves and the students, and foster a nurturing, rigorous learning environment.

First Year

All first-year students take a prescribed set of courses designed to develop their legal analytical skills and their ability to read and understand cases and statutory material. The first year curriculum also provides an introduction to legal research and writing and offers basic substantive law coverage that will serve as a foundation for upper-level courses. First year courses at Maine Law combine the case method with the problem method, emphasizing intensive analysis and discussion of legal cases as well as problem solving skills.

Second & Third Year

Upper level courses are designed to build upon and expand the foundation laid in the first year and to develop a variety of legal skills. Most courses after the first year are elective. However, all students are required to complete successfully Professional Responsibility (LAW 632) and a professional skills course such as a clinical course or practicum. Multiple clinical offers involving live-client experiences to develop advanced litigation or transactional skills are available to upper level students. Students may also participate in an externship placement at a judicial, business, or governmental entity. These positions are competitive but may also be tailored to a student’s unique interests and career path.

Students must also complete an intensive writing project (IWP) prior to graduation. Typically a scholarly work of publishable quality, this project may be completed through an Independent Writing course (Law 700) or as part of a doctrinal course with a paper requirement (both under the supervision of a faculty member), or through participation on the Maine Law Review or Ocean and Coastal Law Journal (which involves extensive writing and editing of scholarship). The IWP is designed to ensure that every student develops analytical writing and research skills as well as skills in meaningful criticism.

To assist students with selecting the most successful path through the rich and diverse upper level curriculum, each student is assigned a faculty advisor in the first year. All students are encouraged to consult their faculty advisors—and other members of the faculty as well—in making course selections and in developing an approach to their legal education. Although most second and third year courses are elective, the faculty believes that certain courses are important components of a sound legal education. The faculty therefore strongly recommends that students take the following courses prior to graduation:

  • Business Associations
  • Evidence
  • Taxation I
  • Trusts and Estates

and one or more of the upper level commercial law courses:

  • Secured Transactions
  • Negotiable Instruments
  • Bankruptcy
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Federal Courts

Maine Law strives to prepare students for myriad career environments including law practice by introducing problem-solving exercises, oral advocacy, and practical writing assignments throughout the three-year curriculum. It is also crucial that students hone their legal analysis and counseling skills through applied courses including “capstone” seminars, practicum courses, externship placements, and clinical coursework involving live-client lawyering. Maine Law offers many courses to allow its students to gain practice-ready experiences and is flexible to tailoring externships and independent study opportunities to meet each student’s interests and needs.

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