Course of Studies
1.1 Point Credit and Academic Course Requirements
1.1.1 Eighty-three (83) points of credit are required. Point credit is earned by satisfactory completion of a course, seminar, or other activities with a grade of C or better, or with a grade of CR in courses or activities permitting or requiring grading on a CR/F scale (see Rule 3.1).
1.1.2 At least 71 points of the required 83 points of credit must be earned by satisfactory completion of courses, seminars, and other activities listed in the bulletin of the School of Law.
1.1.3 At least 64 of the required 83 points of Law School credit must represent regularly scheduled class sessions or direct faculty instruction, as defined in §311(b) of the American Bar Association Standards for Approval of Law Schools. Such sessions or instruction do not include:
184.108.40.206 Supervised research under Rule 1.5;
220.127.116.11 Research as an unpaid faculty assistant under Rule 1.6;
18.104.22.168 Work under other faculties of the University under Rule 1.8;
22.214.171.124 The fieldwork component of externship programs;
126.96.36.199 Independent work on law school journals or upper-level moot court under Rule 1.11;
188.8.131.52 Service as a teaching fellow under Rule 1.12; or
184.108.40.206 Supervised work on upper-level moot court under Rule 1.13.
1.1.4 No more than 30 of the required 83 points of Law School credit may represent clinical courses, externships, and field placement programs, including classroom components, as defined in §520.3 of the New York Court of Appeals Rules for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law. The Rules Committee may waive this 30-point cap upon petition in individual cases, on such conditions and subject to such limitations as the Committee deems appropriate.
1.1.5 At least 6 of the required 83 points of Law School credit must represent experiential coursework, as defined in §303(a)(3) of the American Bar Association Standards for Approval of Law Schools and approved under law faculty procedures for such designation in the official bulletin of the School of Law (beginning with the class of 2019).
220.127.116.11 A course that is used to satisfy the professional responsibility requirement under Rule 18.104.22.168 cannot be counted toward this experiential course work requirement.
22.214.171.124 No more than one course that includes a writing experience used to satisfy either the Minor or Major J.D. Writing Requirement under Rule 1.4 can be counted toward this experiential course work requirement.
1.1.6 In addition, satisfactory completion of the following courses is required:
126.96.36.199 All first-year foundation courses, except as the Rules Committee may in particular cases waive this requirement; and except that for students who enter Columbia as transfer students, satisfactory completion of Legal Methods is not required, and the Rules Committee may also determine that courses previously taken will be regarded as the practical equivalent of other first-year foundation courses.
188.8.131.52 A course, seminar, or program in professional responsibility.
Back to top ▲
1.2 Residence Credit
1.2.1 Residence credit is required for six terms.
1.2.2 Residence credit will be granted for each term in which a student has registered for a standard program as described in this Rule or a reduced-load program as described in Rule 1.2.4—provided that attendance in courses and seminars is regular, that all required examinations are taken and all required papers submitted, and the minimum grade in each course and seminar is achieved. With the permission of the Rules Committee, substitute courses successfully completed may be counted toward residence credit during a term in which a loss of residence otherwise would result from the failure to achieve the required minimum grade in a course or seminar.
1.2.3 A standard program is one including no fewer than 12 and no more than 15 points of credit for coursework or activity during the time period of a regular semester. However, a student may count toward this program up to 3 points of credit for coursework or activity undertaken during the time period immediately preceding the time period of the regular semester and after the time period of the preceding regular semester.
184.108.40.206 A student may, at his or her option, register for a 16th point of credit for the time period of a regular semester if that point corresponds to a course or activity not subject to the course registration lottery.
220.127.116.11 The Dean shall have discretion to permit a student to take a program of 11 points of credit for coursework or activity during the time period of the regular semester. A student may count toward this program up to 3 points of credit for coursework or activity undertaken during the time period
immediately preceding the time period of the regular semester and after the time period of the preceding regular semester. Except with the permission of the Rules Committee, a student permitted to take a program of less than 12 points of credit for coursework or activity during the time period of a regular semester shall be required to take a program of at least 12 points of credit for coursework or activity during the time period of each subsequent regular semester.
18.104.22.168 In this paragraph and elsewhere in these Rules, any reference to “the Dean” shall be understood to refer either to the Dean or to the Dean’s duly designated delegate.
1.2.4 Law students with special needs, principally those with parental responsibility for small children and those with disabilities, may register for a reduced load program, under which they may complete the requirements for the J.D. Degree in as many as nine terms instead of six. The first term will normally consist of Legal Methods, Legal Practice Workshop I, Civil Procedure, and Torts. The second term will normally consist of Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Property, Legal Practice Workshop II, and Foundation-Year Moot Court or an approved alternative. Each subsequent term will consist of a minimum of eight (8) points, with the third term normally consisting of a minimum of Contracts and one elective offering. The Rules Committee must approve a student’s request to take a reduced-load program, and any changes to that program. Employment is not a basis for a reduced-load program.
1.2.5 In no instance shall a program include more than 16 points of credit for law coursework or activity, or any non-law coursework or activity in other units of the University to be counted toward the J.D. degree, within the time period of the regular semester.
1.2.6 Under exceptional circumstances the Rules Committee and the Dean may authorize a student to take up to two additional points during the time period of the regular semester, but only if those additional points are for non-law coursework or activity that is not counted toward the J.D. degree. Before granting such authorization, the Rules Committee and the Dean shall satisfy themselves that the student has sufficient time and ability to apply as much effort to the work of each course or activity counted toward the J.D. degree as he or she would apply to the same course or activity in a program of 16 or fewer points.
1.2.7 The programs of non-matriculated and special students must be approved by the Dean. The programs of all candidates for graduate degrees are subject to the approval of the Dean for Graduate Legal Studies.
1.2.8 Students shall be permitted a noticed and definite period within which they may add or drop courses to the academic program for which they have officially registered.
22.214.171.124 After the close of the add/drop period but before October 16th in the fall semester and February 16th in the spring semester, students may withdraw from a course with the permission of the instructor by submitting a withdrawal form to the Registrar’s office. A grade of W (indicating “Withdrew”) will be entered into the student’s official transcript.
126.96.36.199 After October 15th in the fall semester and February 15th in the spring semester but before the last day of classes in the semester, students may petition the Rules Committee to withdraw from a class for which they have previously registered and have such withdrawal recorded on their transcript as a W. The Rules Committee may grant such a petition only upon a showing of exceptional and compelling reasons.
188.8.131.52 Students who wish to withdraw from a class after October 15th in the fall semester and February 15th in the spring semester who fail to successfully petition to the Rules Committee for the recordation of a W on their transcript will receive an F for the course in accordance with Rule 184.108.40.206.1.1.
220.127.116.11 A student may petition the Rules Committee to withdraw from a course after the expiration of the add/drop period without the entering of a W grade on their transcript. Such petitions may be granted only when there are exceptional and compelling reasons to do so, such as when an illness or other serious issue largely outside of the student’s control rendered timely compliance with the add/drop rules impossible or exceptionally difficult.
18.104.22.168 In exceptional circumstances and where the student can demonstrate compliance with the ABA attendance rules, students may add a course to their academic program after the close of the add/drop period only with the permission of the instructor and upon petition to the Rules Committee.
1.2.9 A student registered for an all-year course may discontinue it at mid-year only with the approval of the Rules Committee.
Back to top ▲
1.3 Moot Court Requirements
1.3.1 Every student is required to participate satisfactorily as counsel in one moot court argument held during the second term of the first year unless, for good cause shown, postponement is authorized by the Dean.
1.3.2 Any student who enters the Law School with advanced standing is required to participate satisfactorily as counsel in one moot court argument held during a term prior to graduation; but the Dean at her discretion may waive this requirement when the student has so participated in a moot court argument held at another approved law school.
1.3.3 The certificate of the judges who have examined the student’s brief and heard the argument shall be accepted as evidence that the moot court requirement has been met. If a faculty member is among the judges, the faculty member’s certification as to whether or not the requirement has been met shall be conclusive. If the judges do not include a faculty member and they are in doubt as to whether or not the requirement has been met, they shall report the facts for such further consideration as the faculty may direct.
Back to top ▲
1.4 Legal Writing Requirements
1.4.1 Two Writing Credits are required to satisfy the J.D. Writing Requirement, at least one of which must satisfy the requirement for Major Writing Credit. No more than one of these credits can be earned in a course that is used to satisfy the experiential course work requirement set out in Rule 1.1.5 (Pending faculty approval).
1.4.2 A piece of written work (“the paper”) shall satisfy the Major Writing Requirement only if it fulfills all of the following conditions:
22.214.171.124 The paper is a substantial and rigorous piece of legal writing on a topic approved in advance by a faculty member who has agreed to act as Faculty Supervisor;
126.96.36.199 The paper has been submitted in draft to the Faculty Supervisor, who has provided comments on the draft, and a further version of the paper has been produced which is responsive to those comments;
188.8.131.52 The paper has been approved by the Faculty Supervisor as satisfying conditions 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11.
18.104.22.168 The Faculty Supervisor shall be a member of the regular or clinical or adjunct or visiting faculty.
22.214.171.124 In this paragraph, “substantial and rigorous” refers to work comparable to that required by a paper that serves as the primary basis of evaluation for a two-credit seminar (e.g., approximately 6,500 to 8,000 words). A shorter paper reporting extensive empirical, archival, or like work, however, could also quality as substantial and rigorous.
1.4.3 A paper meeting the three conditions set out in 1.4.2 may satisfy the Major Writing Requirement even though:
126.96.36.199 it, or an earlier version of it, is also submitted for a grade in a course, seminar, workshop, supervised study, or externship. Seminar instructors will advise students at the beginning of the semester whether they are willing to act as Faculty Supervisor so that the students’ seminar papers can also satisfy the Writing Requirements;
188.8.131.52 it has been submitted to or accepted by a journal for publication. Editorial work, cite-checking, etc. for law reviews and other journals shall not be sufficient in itself to satisfy the Writing Requirement.
1.4.4 Students must obtain the agreement of a faculty member to act as Faculty Supervisor and register for the Major Writing Requirement not later than the end of the Change of Program Period of their fifth semester.
1.4.5 The Minor Writing Credit may be earned by an ordinary course paper, or brief, or other written work under the supervision of a faculty member. It may be earned at any time during the second or third year.
1.4.6 Written work sufficient to satisfy the Minor Writing Credit includes, but is not limited to:
184.108.40.206 Research as an unpaid faculty assistant under Rule 1.6, if conducted under a faculty member’s active supervision and if the supervising faculty member so recommends.
220.127.116.11 Service as a paid legal assistant on the staff of the Legislative Drafting Research Fund, if the director of the Fund so recommends.
18.104.22.168 Participation in the second year as counsel in the fall term elimination rounds or spring term final rounds of the Harlan Fiske Stone Honor Competition, if the brief is certified as satisfactory by a faculty member and the Moot Court Executive Committee.
22.214.171.124 Participation in the second or third year as counsel in a Jerome Michael jury trial, if the work is certified as satisfactory by a faculty member and the Moot Court Executive Committee.
126.96.36.199 Service on the Board of Student Editors for two successive terms, if the work is certified as satisfactory by a faculty member.
188.8.131.52 Service as a moot court student judge for two successive terms, if certified by a faculty member and the Moot Court Executive Committee.
1.4.7 Students must obtain the agreement of a faculty member to act as Faculty Supervisor and register for the Minor Writing Requirement not later than the end of the Change of Program Period of their sixth semester.
1.4.8 All written work submitted in satisfaction of the Major or Minor Writing Requirements must be completed by the first day of the month preceding the month by which the student anticipates graduating. Any such work that is also submitted to fulfill any other degree requirement must also satisfy Rule 3.3.
Back to top ▲
1.5 Supervised Research
A second or third year J.D. student may earn credit for supervised research by writing a research paper or its substantial equivalent under the supervision of a Columbia Law School faculty member (including visiting and adjunct faculty).
1.5.1 No more than four points of credit in an academic year, nor more than three points per semester, may be given to any student for such research projects, and all point credit given must be approved by the supervising faculty member. Law Review or other student journal publication of a supervised research project shall not affect the point credit earned.
1.5.2 If a student registered for supervised research in accordance with this Rule elects to receive a grade, it shall be weighed in determining academic standing under the provisions of Rule 3.2.
1.5.3 The number of credits awarded and supervision required shall be guided by the following principles:
184.108.40.206 Number of Credits. The number of credits earned for supervised research should depend on the amount of work that the project will likely entail. For example, a paper that will require work comparable to that required by a two-credit seminar (e.g., approximately 6,500 to 8,000 words) should be awarded two points of credit. As a very rough guide, it may be assumed that a paper of the scope and length of a law review Note (e.g., approximately 10,000 to 12,000 words) would qualify for three points. In general, longer papers should qualify for more credit than shorter papers, although a short paper reporting extensive empirical, archival or like work would qualify for more credit than a similar length paper working from more readily available sources.
220.127.116.11 Extent of Supervision. In the usual case, a student registered for supervised research will communicate regularly with the supervising instructor over the course of the project. A typical project might proceed through the following stages:
• Topic selection. The student and instructor agree on a subject matter area, and discuss possible research topics within that general area.
• Preliminary research. Following selection of a topic, the student conducts research aimed at narrowing and refining the project, and the instructor provides feedback that assists the student in formulating a research and writing plan.
• Project outline. The student prepares and submits a written outline of the research project, and the instructor responds with substantive feedback. If the instructor deems it appropriate, revised and more detailed outlines may also be submitted and discussed.
• Preliminary draft. The student submits a preliminary draft of the paper or its equivalent, and the instructor provides written or oral comments on the draft.
• Revised draft. The student submits a revised draft of the paper or its equivalent. The instructor will then provide feedback on the revised draft, and may in consultation with the student choose to receive and to provide feedback on additional drafts. These stages may vary depending on the particular project undertaken, and students should consult as needed with their instructors on the appropriate plan of supervision in any particular case.
18.104.22.168 Work that results in the award of point credit in connection with another course, seminar, or activity, including Law School journal work or service as a research assistant, teaching fellow or moot court editor, shall not be eligible to receive point credit under this rule, except to the extent that the student undertakes and completes additional supervised work beyond that required to earn point credit for the other course, seminar or activity.
Back to top ▲
1.6 Research as Unpaid Faculty Assistant
An upperclass student who is appointed by a faculty member to serve for one or more terms under the faculty member’s active supervision as a research assistant without pay and in this capacity to perform legal research and writing in aid of scholarly investigations, may register and earn point credit for such service for the term or terms concerned. When registering for such research, a student must indicate on the registration form the name of the instructor under whose supervision the work is to be done and obtain the instructor’s signature on the form.
No more than two points of credit in an academic year may be given to any student for such service. All point credit given for such service must be approved by the supervising faculty member. A student registered for research as a faculty assistant in accordance with this rule shall receive a grade, which shall be weighed in determining academic standing under the provisions of Rule 3.2.
Back to top ▲
Seminars are normally restricted to 18 students, but the instructor in charge may, at his or her discretion, impose a smaller or larger limit approved by the Dean and announced prior to pre-registration. Any student in good academic standing and with the prescribed prerequisites is eligible, in the second or third academic years, for admission to the seminars described in the bulletin of the School of Law.
Students registered for a seminar will ordinarily be required to prepare or collaborate in preparing one or more written papers. The Curriculum Committee, however, may dispense in advance with the requirement of written work in particular seminars, but the completion of such a seminar by a student who does not do authorized written work in it will not entitle that student to legal writing credit.
1.7.1 A student registered for a seminar may, upon the recommendation of the instructor, confirmed by the Dean, receive extra point credit for extra work. A student who wishes to receive point credit in addition to the point credit listed for a seminar in the bulletin of the School of Law shall obtain written permission from the instructor in charge of the seminar and shall register, during the regular registration period, for the extra point authorized by the instructor and approved by the Dean.
1.7.2 A student who is registered for a course or a seminar may, at any time, on the recommendation of the instructor, be excluded from the offering for deficient work. A student who has been excluded from an offering for unsatisfactory work or who fails to complete the requirements of any offering for which he or she is registered is not eligible to attend other courses or seminars for which he or she is not already registered except by permission of the Rules Committee.
Back to top ▲
1.8 Work Under Other Faculties of the University
Within the limits prescribed by Rules 1.1.3 and 1.1.4 and for good cause shown, an upperclass student may, with the permission of the Dean, register and receive up to 12 units of point credit for courses and seminars related to his or her legal training but given by other faculties of the University and not listed in the bulletin of the School of Law. Upon satisfactory completion of such authorized work, as indicated by examinations or their equivalent and such grades as the Dean may have required, the student will receive such point credit therefore as the Dean may have established in advance.
1.8.1 Work done under other faculties of the University shall be graded on the A-B-C-D-F scale and shall not be taken into account in determining the student’s academic standing. Courses with a grade below C do not carry J.D. credit.
1.8.2 Registration for work not listed in the School of Law bulletin, even though not for Law School credit, also requires permission of the Dean.
Back to top ▲
1.9 Work in Other Law Schools
In the case of students transferring from other law schools with credit for advanced standing and of students permitted, under the provisions of the Rules, to take work in another law school toward satisfaction of the J.D. degree requirements, the Rules Committee has power to determine in each individual case whether any courses taken at another law school shall be counted toward satisfaction of the course requirements. The amount of credit, which will be given for work completed, will depend upon the standards of the other school, the work completed therein, and the grades received by the student.
No more than two residence terms of advanced standing will be credited toward completion of a J.D. degree. No credit will be given for work completed in an American law school, which is not a member of the Association of American Law Schools. No credit will be given for work completed toward the basis of admission for the J.D. degree, or for summer school courses.
Permission to take work in another law school toward satisfaction of the J.D. degree requirements shall be given only to students in good standing, and then only for especially good reasons. In each instance, permission shall be conditioned upon approval, by the Rules Committee and the Dean, of the school and of the course program chosen by the student.
Back to top ▲
1.10 Pro Bono Service Requirement
As a prerequisite for graduation, every student entering as a first-year student during or after the 1993 Fall term, and every other candidate for a Columbia J.D. degree entering during or after the 1994 Fall term, must complete 40 hours of qualifying public interest service after the start of her or his second year of law school. A description of qualifying public interest service may be obtained from the Director of Public Interest Programs. Students for whom this requirement presents a special hardship may bring that fact to the attention of the Dean or the Dean’s designee for appropriate action.
Back to top ▲
1.11 Independent Work on Law School Journals or Advanced Moot Court Activities
A student who publishes written work in a law school journal, who serves as a member of an editorial board for a law school journal, or who serves as an upper-year coach for one of the alternative first-year moot court programs, may register and earn point credit for such work for the term or terms concerned. Not more than three points of credit may be earned by a student under this paragraph, and no grade shall be assigned to such a point.
1.11.1 As used in these rules, “law school journal” refers to any journal approved by the law faculty for inclusion in the official Columbia Law School course catalog.
1.11.2 Point credit is awarded for writing published in a journal when the editor-in-chief has reported to the Dean the author’s entitlement to credit. Upon approval by a faculty member, point credit may be awarded for writing submitted to but not published by a journal. Not more than one point of credit may be awarded for one long piece (for example, an average Law Review Note).
1.11.3 Upon recommendation by the editor-in-chief to the Dean, one point of credit per term may be awarded to a member of an editorial board of a journal who has conducted a substantial amount of revision or editing during the term. The procedures for evaluating work of this character are subject to review and approval by the Journals Committee. Not more than two points of credit may be earned by a student for work as a member of an editorial board.
1.11.4 As used in these rules, “alternative first-year moot court program” refers to a program that, at the recommendation of the Moot Court Director, has been approved by the faculty as an alternative to the first-year foundation moot court program.
1.11.5 Upon recommendation to the Dean by a faculty member who serves as advisor to the program, one point of credit per term may be awarded for service as an upper-year coach for an alternative first-year moot court program.
1.11.6 Students may not receive point credit under this paragraph for work that is submitted in the same or substantially similar form and that receives point credit for Supervised Research under Rule 1.5.
Back to top ▲
1.12 Service as a Teaching Fellow
A student who serves as a teaching fellow under the active supervision of a faculty member may register and earn point credit for such work for the term or terms concerned, provided that:
1.12.1 Students may not earn point credit for serving as a teaching fellow in more than two courses;
1.12.2 Students may not earn point credit for serving as a teaching fellow more than once in the same course;
1.12.3 Students may not earn point credit for serving as a teaching fellow that exceeds the number of points of the course for which the service is performed.
1.12.4 Grading for teaching fellows shall be on a CR/F scale.
Back to top ▲
1.13 Second- and Third-Year Moot Court
A student who serves as a as a Moot Court Student Editor, Moot Court Student Judge, Director of the Harlan Fiske Stone Program, or Director of the Jerome Michael Jury Program, may register and earn point credit for such work for the term or terms concerned, if the work is certified as satisfactory by a faculty member and by the Moot Court Executive Committee. Not more than four points of credit may be earned by a student under this paragraph, and no grade shall be assigned to such a point.
Back to top ▲
1.14 Faculty-Directed Reading Groups
A student may receive one point of academic credit for participation in a faculty-directed reading group. A reading group with faculty member participation shall meet on a regular basis throughout the semester for a period of time equivalent to a standard one-credit course. Reading group participation will be graded on a CR/F basis. Neither written student work nor an examination is required to receive academic credit for reading group participation. No more than two points of faculty-directed reading group credit may be counted towards any student’s degree.
Back to top ▲