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First-Year Curriculum

The first year of law school provides the foundation for a vibrant legal career. The California Western curriculum is designed so you can thrive throughout law school and take full advantage of our unique experiential learning opportunities.

Your first year at a glance

Below is a list of the classes you will take in your first year of law school.

student pulling book from library shelf

First trimester

  • Civil Procedure I (3 units)
  • Contracts  (4 units)
  • Foundations of Law (1 unit)
  • Legal Skills I (3 units)
  • Torts (4 units)
blurred library stack of books

Second trimester

  • Civil Procedure II (2 units)
  • Criminal Law (3 units)
  • Elective or Foundations of Law II (3 units)
  • Legal Skills II (3 units)
  • Property (4 units)

Course Overviews

Explore each course you will take during your first year of law school at California Western. 

Civil Procedure I and II

These courses look at the rules governing a lawsuit from its beginning to trial. Topics covered include: jurisdiction, pleadings, motions, joinder of claims and parties, discovery, and the effect of judgments. (3 units for Civil Procedure I, 2 units for Civil Procedure II)


Study of the development of common-law concepts of enforceable promises and statutory impact. Encompasses the basic principles controlling the formation, performance, and termination of contracts. Includes the doctrines of offer and acceptance, consideration, conditions, breach, damages, third party beneficiary, assignments, and the Statute of Frauds. (4 units)

Criminal Law

Studies the current law of crimes, both common law and statutory. This inquiry focuses on when and how the state deprives a person of liberty. General principles of criminal liability include elements of certain crimes, justification, excuse, and sanctions. (3 units)

Legal Skills I - Legal Research, Analysis, and Objective Writing

Legal Skills I is a foundational course in which first-year students learn legal research, analysis, and writing. In Legal Skills I, students learn how to find, analyze, and cite to the law in a series of objective memoranda of increasing complexity. (3 units)

Legal Skills II - Legal Research, Analysis, Persuasive Writing, and Oral Advocacy

Building on the skills learned in Legal Skills I, students focus on honing and refining their research skills, writing persuasively, and oral advocacy. Students will research and write an e-mail memorandum, a trial or motion brief, and an appellate brief. Legal Skills II culminates in an appellate oral argument. (3 units) 


An introduction to the concept and law of property, acquisition of property, estates in land, private and public land use controls, real estate transactions, and landlord-tenant relationships. (4 units)


Examines theories of civil liability for harm, including negligence, intentional wrongdoing, and participation in abnormally dangerous activity. Specific torts studied include assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence (including medical malpractice and liability of owners and occupiers of land), and nuisance. Defenses to tort actions are also considered, including contributory negligence, assumption of risk and consent. (4 units)