While the electives for the first year of law school may vary somewhat from school to school, at almost all law schools, students are required to take the same core first year classes — Civil Procedure, Contracts, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Property, Torts, and Legal Research & Writing.
The substantive law lectures our professors deliver are not designed to cram 9 months of material into one week. Rather, they are intended to provide students with an overview of each course in an effort to combat the case method. During the academic year, most law professors teach using the case method. They start their first class by discussing an assigned case and, through class participation, help students boil that case down to a fine point of law. Then, the professor repeats this process with subsequent cases that typically build upon the law that students have already learned. So, in most law school classes it’s not until the end of the semester that a student begins to see how a particular body of law takes shape, and how the various rules, standards and tests they’ve learned throughout the semester interrelate. As you can imagine, reading cases without any context/understanding for where those cases may fit in the larger course is much like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle without having the benefit of the picture on the front of the box — no doubt it can be done, but not without considerable effort and inefficiencies.
What we try to do is provide our students with a general road map for each course. To accomplish this, we bring in some of the best law professors from around the country to give an overview of each core 1L class. Using a lecture format, our professors explain many of the theories that drive each area of law so that students can better understand the purpose that individual (black letter) rules attempt to serve. In addition, we have our students read and brief 5-10 of the seminal cases in each core 1L class. This not only exposes them to some of most important cases they will read during their first year, but it also provides them with an opportunity to brief each case and to be exposed to legal analysis and reasoning that is directly translatable to their 1L classes.