Year by Year Overview

Your 1L year


Welcome! At UT Law, you take most classes with just one-third to one-half of your 1L classmates. These people become more than classmates—they become the friends who know when to bring more coffee and when to pull you out of the building to decompress. They become a second family. We keep that family vibe going by promoting an atmosphere where it’s easy to get to know everyone. At UT Law you’ll find an intentionally small entering class, smaller sections, and even smaller writing courses.

Put your best foot forward. Your professional reputation begins on your first day of law school. You’ll become smart, ethical lawyers from day one. You’ll learn how to conduct yourself in every situation, from the classroom to the boardroom, to the courtroom, and beyond. You grow into lawyers that stand up for the rule of law and give back to:

  • the law school community
  • the university
  • the legal community
  • the greater community in which you reside

Help!? The 1L year is challenging, and we’re here to help. Take advantage of our problem solving seminars on timely topics, including:

  • Managing Time and Energy in Law School
  • Getting the Most Out of Class
  • Studying and Outlining
  • Writing Strategies for Law School Exams
  • Final Exam Tips and Strategies

Need more? Step it up with:

  • office hours for each professor
  • a dedicated faculty that helps you think, investigate, advise, and communicate as a lawyer
  • knowledgeable staff who help you connect the dots to make the most of this transition year

Write this down. Lawyers are professional writers. Whether it’s a letter, a motion, a brief, a complaint, or a contract, lawyers spend much of their professional career writing. The College of Law has a thorough and rigorous legal writing program that begins in the first year. 1Ls complete six hours of credit focused exclusively on legal writing and research in small sections, creating many opportunities for one-on-one training. Adjunct professors from the Tennessee legal community teach several sections. Beyond the first year, we offer a number of required and elective courses to continue improving your legal writing skills.

Warm up. Start early with the Bettye B. Lewis Career Center

While you’re busy with classes, the Career Center will introduce you to the things you need to know to get noticed by employers—in a good way. The 1L Career Integration Program includes teamwork, small groups, and one-on-one coaching. We come at it from all angles so you know you’re covered!

Career kickoff. During orientation, you meet Career Center staff and learn about their programs, services, and a timetable for first-year activity. Individual “Getting to Know You” advising sessions give you quality time with the Career Center staff. You leave with a greater understanding of the next steps needed to explore different career paths and to begin specific job-search and career-building experiences.

Job market updates. Remember the first rule of law school? Be prepared. Find out what the legal scene looks like nationwide at our annual program. Current nationwide employment trends, using the most recent graduating class as a reference point, will help you learn what to expect on the job front.

Mentoring program. Know you have a particular interest? Wonder what it’s like to practice law? Still looking for a specialty? Wonder what options are out there to put your law degree to use? Take advantage of the advice of someone who has been in your shoes. Sign up to be matched with a practitioner that shares common interests with you, and get the straight talk right from the source.

Career programming. Learn by doing with programs and experiences that include:

  • developing individual job search tools (résumés, cover letters, and job search strategy)
  • identifying resources for job exploration and employer research
  • honing interview skills, both for employment and informational interviews
  • understanding professionalism and ethics in career pursuits

Timing is everything. Spring semester brings the first opportunity to interview for summer jobs, such as paid summer clerkships with law firms or volunteer public sector positions. During the summer months, you can remain in contact with Career Center staff for  information and timetables on late summer and fall formal recruitment programs, on campus and across the country.

Orientation and Introductory Period

The first rule of law school is: Be prepared. We take preparation very seriously at UT Law. It’s part of the professional code of conduct, and that’s why when you arrive in August as a 1L, we ensure you have everything you need to succeed. Use this time as the warm-up to the big race: Get your passwords, set up your computer, secure a locker, buy books, get your ID card, and conquer parking on campus (or learn the bus schedule).

After orientation, but before the first full week of classes, we take prep to the next level with faculty-led sessions. Learn how to brief a case and get an overview of civil litigation. When it’s all over, unwind at the Deans’ Reception with good food and new friends.

As long as you follow the first rule of law school, success is within reach.


Your 2L year


Look first. Then take a big leap. UT Law trusts that you know your own mind. As a lawyer you take an oath to uphold the US constitution and the rules of professional conduct, which is why two courses are required during the 2L year. Legal Profession explores the ethical and professional role of lawyers during the fall semester. Constitutional Law lays out the foundation of the US legal system in the spring. In addition, there are four upper-level requirements—in the areas of writing, professional skills, and perspectives on law—which students often take in the 2L year. This means you can chart your own course from here. Your 1L year gave you the tools to delve into any area of law you want.

Wind up. Continue to forge ahead with the The Bettye B. Lewis Career Center. Use the skills and information you learned in your first year to apply for jobs for the summer or during the academic year. Meet legal recruiters who hire summer and year-round law clerks and entry-level attorneys through the Career Center’s formal recruitment programs, which include:

  • on-campus interviews with employers coming to campus to meet face-to-face with you
  • virtual interviews facilitated by Career Center staff and employer contacts using the latest technology
  • direct application for jobs posted in the Symplicity database
  • contact with alumni and national recruiters
  • national and regional job fairs and recruiting programs

Get Strategic

Not sure what opportunities are available to you or where you might best fit in the legal world? Get strategic in your planning, and use the Career Center staff as your consultants.

  • Take our assessments to explore your personal and professional strengths.
  • Use Career Center programs and activities to learn about jobs available to JD graduates.
  • Polish your communication and leadership skills to grow the competencies and work ethic employers expect in new hires.

Your 3L year


Externships. So you’ve made it this far. Find out whether you’ll make a great district attorney or a hard-working public defender with one of UT Law’s externships. Have your eyes on some judge’s robes? We can help with that, too. UT Law offers three externship programs designed to expose students to all aspects of the public legal system. The Judicial Externship, the Prosecutorial Externship, and the Public Defender Externship pair students with experienced members of the state and federal court systems.

International Study. In a global world, the ability to relate to and understand foreign law is more than a bonus; it’s a necessity. Expand your horizons during your 2L and 3L years and transfer up to eight credit hours from your study abroad to UT Law. In addition to opportunities you may find, we offer ABA-accredited partnerships with schools in Cambridge, Beijing, and Rio de Janeiro.

Clinical Programs. Get to practice in court during your 3L year. Since 1947, the College of Law’s legal clinics have provided law students with opportunities to learn by doing—representing clients and helping resolve legal disputes. Our legal clinic is the longest-running legal clinical program in the nation. We offer eight clinics in addition to three externship programs, providing a clinic opportunity for every willing student.

Early Bar Preparation. Upper-level students are encouraged to attend seminars designed to raise their awareness about the bar exam and bar exam preparation. Seminar topics include selecting the “right” commercial bar course and mastering the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). Third-year students can jumpstart their preparation for the bar exam by enrolling in Bar Examination: Law, Skills & Strategies.

On the Job. We help our students find the career that will best fit them. If you are still finding the right path for you, the Career Center works with you individually on job search skills and facilitates collaboration with faculty and alumni who can often help you form the final link in the job search process.

Make the connection with the Bettye B. Lewis Career Center

While many of you may come back to campus with post-graduate offers from summer employment, due to the distinct differences in hiring timetables more of you may find post-graduate employment during your third year of law school or after graduation and bar passage. Many students have “found their calling” in the third year and have developed relationships with employers that lead to job offers.