Juris Doctor Curriculum
Each of the four years in the juris doctor degree program is divided into 22 two-week lesson periods plus review and examination periods. Each lesson period is twelve days (six days per week) and requires thirty-six to forty-eight hours of study (three to four hours per day) in order to complete the mandatory minimum of 864 hours per year.
The first year courses are studied concurrently for the duration of the year, and examinations are taken at the halfway and final points of the year. The second, third, and fourth years are conducted differently, with each year divided into two semesters during which at least two courses are studied concurrently. Course grades are generally based on final exams administered at the end of each semester, though written assignments, presentations, and papers may also be required. Course descriptions are included below.
First Year: 20 semester credit hours
Introduction to Law (Law 512). An overview of the American legal system, including an examination of the Biblical and historical foundations of the common law and the common law subjects to be studied in the first year. Students are introduced to important legal terminology, basic legal analysis, concepts of counseling, as well as the proper application of Biblical principles to the practice of law. Credit hours: 1. Course professor: Robert J. Barth.
Contracts (Law 522). A study of civilly enforceable agreements, including the common law development of contract principles. Specific topics include formation elements, such as offer, acceptance, and consideration; performance of contracts and the related subjects of conditions, discharges, and breach; damages and remedies; third-party beneficiaries, assignments and delegations; and statutory changes to the common law of contracts. Credit hours: 6. Course professor: Robert J. Barth.
Criminal Law (Law 532). An examination of the common law doctrines and development of criminal law, with a thorough overview of modern crimes and punishments. The principles of actus reus, mens rea, and causation are discussed, along with the specific elements of each crime. Credit hours: 4. Course professor: Bob Whalen.
Torts (Law 542). A study of private or civil wrongs and injuries and the civil liability which results from such wrongs and injuries. General topics include theories of tort liability, intentional torts to persons and property, negligence, strict liability, and the more specific areas of products liability, nuisance, misrepresentation, defamation, invasion of privacy, and torts in business. Credit hours: 6. Course professor: Robert G. Caprera.
Legal Research & Writing I (Law 552). An introduction to the fundamental sources and techniques of legal research, including use of the law library and its various resources. The course also presents an in-depth study of legal writing with the goal that students develop their analytical writing skills. This course focuses on essay writing, case analysis, logic, and the legal memorandum, and legal philosophy and reasoning. Credit hours: 3. Course professor: Emily A. Milnes.
Second Year: 22 semester credit hours
Civil Procedure (Law 651). A study of how rights and remedies are addressed through a civil lawsuit, including a survey of the goals and strategies of litigation. The course analyzes the development of a civil action from pretrial to the entry of judgment, including pleadings, motions, joinder of parties, discovery, process, and practice. Examination is also given to the appellate process and to the organization and jurisdiction of federal and state courts. Credit hours: 5. Lecturing professor: Jordan W. Lorence. Course professor: Peter A Sauer.
Property (Law 661). An introduction to private property, both real and personal. Topics of study include personal property, donative transfers, future interests and estates in land, landlord/tenant law, freehold and non-freehold estates, easements and covenants, land improvements, conveyances and transfers of interest, and adverse possession. Attention is also given to the practical aspects of real property law, such as real estate contracts, deeds and mortgages, liens on property, legal descriptions, the recording system, and title insurance. Credit hours: 5. Course professor: Robert G. Caprera.
Principles of the Common Law (Law 611). An examination of the Biblical principles which provided the basis of English common law and their application to modern American jurisprudence. Students will study the development of these principles and analyze current legal issues from the perspective of Biblical principles. The limits of governmental authority, unalienable rights, and the scope of individual liberty are also studied. Credit hours: 4. Course professor: Robert J. Barth.
Legal Research & Writing II (Law 652). A continuation of the subject matter developed in Legal Research & Writing I. This course focuses on objective writing and computer-aided research skills. Credit hours: 2. Course professor: Emily A. Jackson.
Constitutional Law (Law 681). A study of the basic concepts of constitutional law, with particular emphasis on the United States Constitution and governmental design. The course examines the separation of powers between branches of the federal government and between federal and state governments, federal commerce and fiscal power (including taxation and the Commerce Clause), judicial review, international affairs, procedural and substantive due process, state police power, equal protection, civil rights, and First Amendment liberties. Credit hours: 6. Course professor: John A. Eidsmoe
Third Year: 21–26 semester credit hours
Criminal Procedure (Law 731). An analysis of the administration and enforcement of criminal law from pre-arrest to appellate review by state and federal courts. The course discusses the constitutional rights of the accused and the guidelines for law enforcement agents, including arrest, search and seizure, due process, right to jury, police interrogation, and confessions. Criminal trial practice, proceedings, and techniques are also explored. Credit hours: 4. Course professor: John A. Eidsmoe.
Evidence (Law 751). A study of the law regarding admission or exclusion of testimonial and documentary evidence in civil and criminal cases. Specific topics include sufficiency and relevancy of evidence, order of proof, notice, hearsay, presumptions, privilege, competency, and impeachment of witnesses. Credit hours: 5. Course professor: Robert G. Caprera.
Legal Research & Writing III (Law 752). Building on the concepts presented in Legal Research & Writing I and II, the third year centers around persuasive writing, including trial and appellate briefs. An additional one hour of credit may be earned if a student chooses to take the Appellate Advocacy elective in the second semester of the third year. Credit hours: 2. Course professor: Emily A. Jackson.
Business Organizations (Law 701). An examination of the formation, control, property, structure, and dissolution of business organizations, including the rights and duties of officers and shareholders, and state and federal rules regarding close and public corporations. The course further examines the principles of agency and partnership, including the rights, duties, and liabilities of persons so related. Credit hours: 6. Course professor: Robert J. Barth.
Wills and Trusts (Law 762). A study of the basic principles of intestate succession and testamentary instruments, including the construction, interpretation, revocation, administration, and execution of wills. The course also examines the creation and termination of trusts, as well as the fiduciary administration of both estates and trusts. Credit hours: 4. Course professor: Robert M. Kern.
Fourth Year: 22-26 semester credit hours
Uniform Commercial Code (Law 821). A survey and analysis of commercial transactions as these relate to the Uniform Commercial Code. Although the UCC is covered in first-year Contracts, this course offers a more detailed study of the subject. Credit hours: 6. Course professor: David J. Siegrist.
Professional Responsibility (Law 892). A study of the authority and duties of an attorney in his role as an advocate, mediator, and counselor. Responsibility to God, government, the courts and bar, clients, and society in general are examined, as well as the relationship of the ABA Code of Professional Responsibility and the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to legal ethics and responsibility. Specific topics include attorney/client relationships, fee arrangements, competency, and conflicts of interest. Credit hours: 4. Course professor: John A. Eidsmoe.
Senior Seminar Paper (Law 852). The fourth year requires the completion of an independent research paper of 30–50 pages, excluding footnotes, under the supervision of a faculty member. In this paper, students are expected to demonstrate excellent research and writing skills as well as legal and Biblical analyses. Credit hours: 3. Course professor: Faculty.
Community Property (Law 861). A study of the law in California and other community property jurisdictions as applied to real and personal property owned by a husband and wife. Credit hours: 2. Course professor: Robert M. Kern.
Conflict Reconciliation and Restoration (Law 893). In this course you will understand practical steps to reconcile relationships for those who are willing to do so. You will also learn how to encourage people to be willing to reconcile by examining what God wants to do in their life in the mist of the conflict. This knowledge will undoubtedly assist you as an attorney in your role as a counselor and mediator for two reasons. First, you will be free in your personal life to do the right thing and second, you will be able to help others gain the same freedom and joy as they follow your counsel to live consistently according to God’s Word. You will also gain insight into God’s ways and be equipped to make wise strategy decisions as you represent clients. Credit hours: 3. Course professor: Sean Gallagher.
Electives are available in the third and fourth years only, and the electives offered will depend on student interest and faculty availability.
Creditors’ Rights/ Bankruptcy (Law 921). A study of federal bankruptcy law and the law of debtors and creditors under the state law. Specific topics include the property of the estate, the automatic stay, exemptions, discharge, preferences, and reorganization. Such topics as judgment liens, executions, attachments, garnishments, and fraudulent transfers are covered in the non-bankruptcy portion of the course. Credit hours: 4. Course professor: Peter L. Fear.
Remedies (Law 941). A study of the nature and scope of judicial remedies, including damages, restitution, specific performance, injunction, and declaratory relief. Credit hours: 3. Course professor: Robert J. Barth
Trial Advocacy (Law 951). Trial Advocacy develops students’ courtroom skills through simulated civil and criminal cases. Specific areas studied and practiced include pretrial preparation, jury selection, opening and closing statements, direct and cross-examination, exhibits, and objections. Credit hours: 4. Course professor: Douglas McElvy.
Dispute Resolution (Law 952). Dispute Resolution develops students’ negotiation, arbitration, and mediation skills through simulated exercises. Strategies and methods are examined and practiced. Credit hours: 4. Course professor: Douglas McElvy.
Appellate Advocacy (Law 953). This course is an elective in conjunction with Legal Research and Writing III. Students receive instruction in techniques of oral advocacy before an appellate court. Students who choose this elective must do so during the second semester of their third year. Each student is required to participate in appellate moot courts to be held concurrently with a first-year orientation conference. Credit hours: 2. Course professor: Peter L. Fear.
Legal Externship (Law 955). A student may earn up to 4 hours of academic credit for practical experience gained by working as an intern for a judge, public prosecutor or defender, legal aid clinic staff attorney, corporate counsel or a private practitioner. Students interested in obtaining credit for externship experience must submit a written proposal with information requested by the College and obtain approval prior to beginning the externship. See Section 5(4).
Academic credit for an externship will be awarded on a pass/fail basis based upon the nature of the work done and the documented time spent working. No academic credit will be given for externships involving little or no legal research and practical skill development. Credit Hours: 1–4. Course professor: Robert J. Barth.
Family Law and Principles of Marital Reconciliation (Law 961). An overview of the law regulating legal relationships among family members, specifically those between parents and children and between husband and wife. The Biblical foundations of the family and of marriage will be examined, as well as the law related to marriage, separation, divorce, annulment, property in and after a marriage, child custody, and illegitimacy. Parental rights and the family jurisdiction as ordained by God will receive special attention. Credit hours: 4. Course professor: Larry Higgins.