The University of Minnesota Law School offers concentrations drawing from the expertise of our faculty and interdisciplinary partnerships with other University of Minnesota programs. Descriptions of the concentrations and information about opportunities for study, practical experience, and employment in each concentration can be found on the Concentrations page.
Learn more about the Intellectual Property and Technology Concentration, or view sections for these courses.
Other Subject Areas
Other Subject Areas
The University of Minnesota Law School also offers courses in the following areas of faculty expertise.
The Law School offers numerous courses that train students to understand how regulatory agencies operate, how to advise clients about compliance with regulations, and how to litigate in the shadow of regulations. All students interested in this field should take Administrative Law, ideally in the fall of the 2L year. Students might also consider the Law School’s concentrations in particular regulatory fields, including Environmental and Energy Law, Health Law and Bioethics, Intellectual Property and Technology, and Labor and Employment Law. Developing either transactional or litigation skills would also be helpful.
Several courses draw upon analytical methods and economics. Analytical Methods provides training in basic tools such as economic theory, accounting, and game theory. The Law and Economics course provides an overview of leading developments in the application of law to economics. The Law and Economics Workshop features speakers presenting ongoing research in which they are engaged. Statistics for Lawyers covers a variety of basic statistical tools and shows how they have been applied to legal questions.
Commercial law embraces the study of state and federal law that regulates interactions among economic actors such as consumers and businesses, creditors and debtors, holders and obligors, and buyers and sellers. There are trillions of dollars of transactions and relationships in the United States alone that fall within the purview of commercial law specialties such as real estate, sales, commercial paper, creditors' remedies/secured transactions, securitization and structured finance, bankruptcy, and insurance. Most practicing lawyers will find themselves and their clients significantly affected by these areas of the law. As a consequence, pragmatic lawyers often consider it important to have at least a basic understanding of these areas.
Lawyers who practice in the commercial law arena confront a wide variety of legal issues that span both litigation and transactional practice as well as consumer and corporate law. For example, bankruptcy attorneys might advise multi-billion dollar entities in connection with their Chapter 11 reorganization, structure and formulate Chapter 11 reorganization plans, or litigate issues involving voidable preferences or fraudulent transfers. Others who practice bankruptcy law might work with consumers to resolve their claims with credit card companies, satisfy illness-related medical expenses, or maintain ownership of their homes. Another type of commercial attorney might work with clients to structure sale, lease, or other business transactions or draft contracts for complicated international sales of good or services and help structure the financing of those sales. Attorneys may represent lenders and creditors in connection with preparation and negotiation of loan documentation, as well as litigation that often follows the non-payment of indebtedness.
Courses, seminars, and clinics in the commercial law area are listed below. Students interested in the study of commercial law should consider at a minimum courses in Bankruptcy, Commercial Paper, Creditors' Remedies/Secured Transactions, Real Estate, and Sales.
Students interested in commercial law are strongly encouraged to complete the Business Law concentration and consult with the concentration advisor.
The Law School's Constitutional Law courses cover a broad range of topics arising under both the federal and state constitutions. The courses touch on matters both timely and timeless. Students deal with contemporary hot topics like the scope of presidential power in wartime, affirmative action, abortion, and gay rights. Students also confront recurrent topics that have occupied courts and commentators from the earliest days of the nation, including the power of judicial review, the balance of power between the states and the federal government, the separation of powers among the three branches of the federal government, and the source and definition of rights.
The courses offer both intellectual and professional rewards. The competing theories of constitutional interpretation are interesting in their own right, as are the difficulties of applying these theories to actual cases. Gaining some understanding of constitutional law is essential to being a well-informed citizen and a well-rounded lawyer. Professionally, constitutional law is a critical subject for any student thinking about a career in government, either as a prosecutor, an elected representative or executive, or as an administrator. Certainly, students interested in public-interest legal work will need an understanding of the civil-rights and powers issues that arise in constitutional litigation. Even those inclined to a career in private practice will confront constitutional issues in everything from business litigation to criminal defense to intellectual property and bankruptcy.
The required first-year course, Constitutional Law I, covers the basic constitutional design of American government. This includes an introduction to judicial review, congressional power, federalism, and executive power. The required upper-level course, Constitutional Law II, introduces students to basic liberties protected by the federal constitution. This includes, depending on the instructor, substantive due process, the Equal Protection Clause, the Takings Clause, the First Amendment, and congressional power to enforce civil rights under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The more specialized upper-level courses cover many important topics. The First Amendment course is recommended for all of the professional and intellectual reasons discussed above, and is especially important for any student interested in the possibility of government employment or a media practice. The course gives detailed attention to the freedom of speech, including issues like protection for subversive speech, pornography, hate speech, and libel. Depending on the instructor for this course, it may also include coverage of student speech and speech by government employees. The freedom of association is also often covered. The religion clauses, including the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause, are addressed. For students with even more specialized First Amendment interests, courses in Election Law, Media Law, and Theories of Free Expression are occasionally offered.
Students interested in public-interest work are especially advised to consider the State Constitutional Law course, the Constitutional/Civil Rights Litigation seminar, the Voting Rights seminar, Indian Law, and the Privacy seminar. For those interested in criminal defense or criminal prosecution work, the Criminal Procedure course is essential.
Students thinking of representing gay and lesbian clients or who are simply interested in gay-rights legal controversies should take the seminar on Sexual Orientation and the Law, which is generally offered every other year. To take this seminar, the student is required to have taken Constitutional Law II and is recommended to have taken the First Amendment course.
Several courses analyze controversies involving the Constitution and balance of powers, especially in time of war. These include Congress and the President, the Constitutional Powers of the Presidency seminar, and the National Security Law seminar.
For those interested in the contrasts and similarities between the U.S. Constitution and other constitutions, the Comparative Constitutional Law course is occasionally available. Students interested in current controversies in constitutional law will want to consider the Supreme Court seminar, which considers a wide range of significant cases on the Court's current docket.
The Law School offers a concentration in Business Law for students considering a career in corporate practice. Students are encouraged to review the Business Law page and meet with the Business Law concentration advisor.
The subset of Business Law courses focusing on corporate practice study state and federal laws that regulate the formation, operation, and structures of different forms of business associations, such as corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, and the like. Courses also address federal and state law that regulates capital markets and financial institutions.
Corporations and Business Associations/Corporations are the gateway courses in this area. They serve as a prerequisite for many other courses, so students interested in taking several courses in the field should take Corporations or Business Associations/Corporations early in their time at the Law School.
While history has always had a presence in American law schools, the field of legal history has been dramatically reinvigorated in the last quarter century, with the growth of interdisciplinary studies examining law in relation to society and culture rather than simply tracing its internal developments. The Law School offers a range of courses that reflect this set of scholarly innovations. They are designed not only to provide insight into the historical dynamics between law and social/cultural change, but also to provide instruction in the ways history figures in legal argument-the use made of historical materials and methods in the work of the lawyer, past and present.
The Law School's course offerings, listed below, provide a basic grounding in the subject and also enable students to explore specific topics or periods in greater depth. A general survey course in American Legal History traces the evolution of central ideas, institutions, and events from the Revolution through the New Deal Era. Seminars focus on particular subjects, such as Women's Legal History. In addition, a Legal History Workshop features an array of prominent scholars working at the intersection of law and history. These guest speakers present works-in-progress or recently published books that range across geographical regions and time periods, exhibiting various methodological perspectives.
These curricular endeavors are all part of a broader scholarly initiative, the University of Minnesota's Program in Law and History. Established in 2007, the Program's mission is to support the study of law in its historical context, doing so by bringing together scholars and students from the University and around the world to foster teaching and research in all areas and periods of legal history. In addition to the Workshop, the Program sponsors the Erickson Distinguished Lecture in Legal History, an annual event featuring some of the most prominent legal historians in the country. Funding opportunities through the Program are also available to students undertaking substantial research and writing projects.
Many graduates will engage in litigation or alternative dispute resolution during their careers, or will act as advocates for their clients (or for causes). Courses designed to develop lawyering and advocacy skills can be divided into four types: (1) doctrine courses directly related to the judicial process; (2) skills courses; (3) live client clinics; and (4) externships.
1. Doctrine Courses
The first year Civil Procedure course provides a foundation for all courses related to the judicial process. Students should build on this foundation by taking additional courses that focus on procedures relevant to particular fields. Relevant courses are listed below, as well as under subject areas focusing on Civil Litigation, Criminal Justice, and Administrative & Regulatory Law. All future litigators should take Evidence.
2. Skills Courses
Several upper-level courses provide training in specific skills relied on by practicing attorneys. Skills courses usually involve both classroom and simulated exercises, such as a mock interview, deposition, or trial. These courses often are taught by adjunct professors. The University of Minnesota is fortunate to have a superb adjunct faculty that includes prominent federal and state court judges and litigators.
The Law School strongly recommends that future litigators complete a litigation-related concentration (Civil Litigation or Criminal Justice) and enroll in skills courses that satisfy concentration requirements. All potential litigators should consider taking Trial Advocacy.
3. Live Client Clinics
The University of Minnesota Law School offers one of the nation's largest live client clinical programs. Most interested students have the opportunity to enroll in a clinic at some point during their Law School experience. The differences in the substantive area of work for the clinic should be clear from the course title and description. Beyond the substantive law differences, the clinics offer different types of experiences in which the student can integrate theory and skills. Some clinics focus on appearing in court, while others focus on advising clients and interacting with government agencies.
Externships provide students with an opportunity to work on projects involving placements outside the law school. The Judicial Externship will prove useful for students interested in any aspect of litigation or the judicial process. Students can also arrange Independent Field Placements with a site supervisor and faculty supervisor.
This curricular area includes courses that examine all or some parts of the law from the perspective of a particular disciplinary methodology or particular social group. This area includes courses that build on the methods of other areas of study, such as history, philosophy, economics, and the natural sciences. The field also includes courses that focus on how the law affects a variety of groups, such as women, racial and ethnic minorities, lesbians, and gay men.
There is no natural order in which to take the courses and no one course serves as a prerequisite for other courses within the field. That said, two courses do provide a broad introduction. Jurisprudence surveys a variety of conceptual approaches to the law, although it is particularly concerned with the application of ideas and methods drawn from philosophy to foundational legal questions. Perspectives on the Law brings together professors who research in several different areas to show how their areas apply to a variety of legal questions.
In addition to the courses listed below, students might find relevant courses listed elsewhere in this guide under Analytical Methods, Health Law & Bioethics, and Legal History.
The Law School requires all students to take a course in Professional Responsibility focusing on the roles of responsibilities of lawyers in the U.S. legal system. Class sessions focus on ethical standards and rules, as well as their enforcement mechanisms. Each section covers basic principles applicable to all lawyers, while several sections focus on issues related to a particular kind of practice (e.g., criminal, civil, transactional, and government).
"Public law" refers to law defining the relationship between the state and individuals, or between states. The category is broad and loosely-defined, and there is much debate about what areas of law fall within it. The courses listed below focus on constitutions, treaties, statutes, and administrative regulations. Numerous other relevant courses are listed elsewhere in this course guide under Constitutional Law, Administrative & Regulatory Law, Litigation & Advocacy, and Perspectives.
Tax law studies at the Law School cover a wide range of international, U.S. federal, and state statutes, regulations, rulings, cases, and concepts that govern taxpayers and provide all levels of government with the funds that they need to function.
Legal work in this area covers matters including transaction planning, general compliance, and tax controversies. Transactional and compliance work involves advising taxpayers on how to structure their affairs to both minimize their tax burdens and comply with the tax laws. Tax controversy work involves tax enforcement matters before federal, state, and local taxing authorities and in the courts.
Courses, seminars, and other programs in the Tax Law area are listed below. Tax I is the gateway course in this area. Tax I covers basic income tax principles with an emphasis on the federal individual income tax laws. Students who are interested in taking just one tax law course should take Tax I. For students interested in taking several tax courses, Tax I serves as a prerequisite for most other courses in the area. Students should consider taking Tax I early in their Law School career, as this course can be useful in appreciating and understanding many non-tax courses including Business Organizations and upper-level business law courses, Wills and Trusts, Creditors' Rights, and Family Law.
After Tax I, the Law School offers several specialized tax courses, seminars, and other programs. Corporate Tax and Partnership Tax cover federal tax laws and concepts governing entities other than individuals and are particularly recommended for students considering careers in business or transactional law. Estate Planning presents the principles of transfer taxation, is useful for those interested in transactional work with closely-held businesses, and is essential for anyone who plans to work in the area of trusts and estates law. Federal Tax Procedure, the Tax Clinic, and judicial externship opportunities with the Minnesota Tax Court provide exposure to issues in federal and state tax controversy practice. Other advanced tax offerings are listed below.