College of Law

UT Law to provide hands-on experience, career planning for all first-year students

Posted March 23, 2016

New students of the University of Tennessee College of Law who arrive in fall 2016 will find a unique approach to their first-year studies that focuses on practical training, legal writing, and career planning.

UT Law’s new first-year (1L) curriculum is a significant revision of the college’s more traditional, theory-focused approach to 1L education.

“The changes we’ve implemented bring the innovative teaching approaches we already use in our upper-level courses to all first-year students,” said Paula Schaefer, associate professor of law and chair of the college’s 1L curriculum task force. “By integrating simulations into our 1L curriculum, our students will learn the law as they use it to solve client problems.”

Experience-focused opportunities will be available through courses in civil procedure and torts and a lab course in transactional lawyering. Plus, the college’s introductory criminal law and legal process courses will connect and reinforce theoretical concepts in a more active, writing-focused experience.

In addition, a course in lawyering and professionalism will provide students with basic training in essential attorney skills while introducing the values of the legal profession. Developed by UT Law’s Institute for Professional Leadership, the course will encourage students to begin developing a plan for their careers in the first semester of law school.

“Our new 1L curriculum will urge our students to begin to prepare for their futures as lawyers upon arriving at UT Law,” said Melanie D. Wilson, dean of the College of Law. “The legal job market is at its most competitive right now, and we’re confident that early, deliberate planning and experience-based training will boost our students’ ability to launch their careers right after graduation.”

The new curriculum gives all students hands-on experience with both litigation and transactional lawyering in the first year, providing them with an early opportunity to consider either of those fields as a career path.

For a complete list of UT Law’s first-year courses, visit law.utk.edu/academics/first-year-curriculum.