Course Advising

The University of Montana School of Law offers a broad array of elective courses, in addition to its required curriculum. The School of Law also provides opportunities for obtaining a certificate, acknowledging in-depth study in the areas of American Indian Law, Environmental and Natural Resources Law, or Alternative Dispute Resolution. The following provides an overview of our curriculum opportunities and information on registration.

Spring 2015 Registration Information

Spring Registration on CYBERBEAR

  • CYBERBEAR opens for Class of 2015 on Wednesday, November 5
  • CYBERBEAR opens for Class of 2016 on Thursday, November 6
  • CYBERBEAR opens for Class of 2017 on Friday, November 7

Make sure your Pin Number is working before pre-registration. Also, please keep your mailing address current on CYBERBEAR.

Refer to the Law School 2014-2015 academic calendar for other important dates.

Required Courses

The first year curriculum focuses on foundational legal concepts, and is a fully required curriculum. It combines theory and practice. For example, students learn the elements of negligence in Torts, and implement those concepts by briefing and arguing a summary judgment motion in Legal Writing and Pre Trial Practice.  Our Law Firm Program affords a small group venue that allows 1L students to learn concepts through simulated practice.

Students continue to learn foundational concepts as part of the 2L required curriculum and to apply those concepts in Business Transactions, a course that simulates lawyering skills used in a business practice, and Trial Practice, a course that simulates trial skills.  During the second year of law school, students may select additional courses from a selection of elective offerings.

During the third year of law school, students move from skills simulation to the representation of clients as part of our clinic program. Students generally tailor third year courses to reflect their interests by choosing from our elective offerings.

First Year Required Courses

Fall Semester (16 credits)

Spring Semester (13 credits)

* First Year Spring Elective Options (3 credits)

  • Criminal Procedure (3 credits) - Required for Criminal Law Clinics
  • Intro to Environmental Law (3 credits) - Required for the Environmental and Natural recourses certificate and some environmental clinics
  • Tribal Courts/Tribal Law (3 credits) - Required for the Indian Law certificate and Indian law clinic
  • Negotiations (3 credits) - Required for the Alternative Dispute Resolution certificate and Mediation clinic

Second Year Required Courses

Fall Semester (12 credits) Spring Semester (10 credits)

Third Year Required Courses

Clinic (4 credits)

During the 2L or 3L year, law students must also complete an Advanced Writing Requirement.

Advanced Writing Requirement

Students must satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement by the time of graduation. Students may complete the Advanced Writing Requirement on a topic of their choice. The classes eligible for satisfaction of the Advanced Writing Requirement are listed on the Fall and Spring Class schedules, and are subject to change from year to year. Students may also satisfy the requirement through either Law Review or through an Independent Study as provided in the Student Handbook. In all cases, each written and oral component of the Advanced Writing Requirement must be satisfied as set forth in the Student Handbook.

Bar Exam Subjects

Bar exams are State specific. Some states use the tests prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The National Conference of Bar Examiners prepares the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, the Multistate Bar Exam, the Multistate Essay Exam and the Multistate Performance Test. Montana has opted to use these examinations in part as indicated on the Montana State Bar web site, Board of Bar Examiner’s Rule 103.

The following required and elective course offerings cover subjects generally tested on bar examinations:

Elective Courses

During the second and third year of law school, students may take elective courses. Some elective courses are offered only in alternate years as indicated below. Please note that an elective course may not be offered in a particular year if the instructor who teaches the course is not available or if a sufficient number of students do not register for the course. Notice of a course cancellation will be provided as soon as feasible.

Spring 2015 Elective Courses

Independent Study

Law students may undertake one independent study project during either the second or third year with a faculty advisor and approval of the Curriculum Committee. The project may not be used as a substitute for course content available to the student in the law school curriculum or eligible cross-listed courses. The normal credit for independent study, including study associated with satisfaction of the advanced writing requirement, is one credit. Work that substantially exceeds this amount, and is equivalent to a two-credit course, may earn a maximum of two credits. Additional information is available in the Student Handbook. Independent Study forms are available online on the UMSL Student Information Moodle page.

Non-Law Graduate Courses

A law student may, with the approval of the Curriculum Committee of the Law School, take up to six graduate-level credits in other departments of the University for law credit. To gain approval, the proposed non-law class must have a substantial relationship to law or legal problems, and must match the student’s professional interests or needs in a way that existing Law School courses cannot. Proposals must be submitted by the last class day of the semester previous to the semester in which the non-law course is offered. Non-Law Course Request forms are available online on the UMSL Student Information Moodle page.

Joint Degree Programs

We offer the following joint degree programs:

Certificate Programs

We offer the following certificate programs:

Areas of Concentration

If you have an interest in an area of law, you might consider a series of related courses. The following lists certain practice areas of law and provides suggestions for courses important to each area. Faculty advisors are also available to help you select courses that match your interests.

General Practice

Course Advisors: Professors Jonathon Byington, Larry Howell, Sam Panarella, and Hillary Wandler

Required Courses:

Core Courses:

Additional Recommended Courses:

Natural Resources and Environmental Law

Course Advisors: Professors Michelle Bryan and Martha Williams

Core Courses:

Suggested Courses:

Indian Law

Course Advisors: Professor Maylinn Smith

Core Courses:

Suggested Courses:

The University of Montana American Indian Law Summer Program offers study in specialized areas of Indian Law, and the courses offered are recommended for a broad understanding of the area of Indian Law.

Business and Commercial Law

Course Advisors: Professors Pippa Browde, Jonathon Byington, Elaine Gagliardi, Sam Panarella

Required Courses:

Business practice in Montana largely involves the representation of closely held businesses owned by a small number of investors. Students who intend to represent closely held businesses should consider the following elective courses in addition to the required courses:

Core Courses:

Additional Recommended Courses:

Personal Planning

Involves assisting clients with financial planning and family issues

Course Advisors: Professors Jonathon Byington, Pippa Browde, Elaine Gagliardi, and Sam Panarella

Required Courses:

Core Courses:

Additional Recommended Courses:

Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Course Advisors: Professors Bari Burke, Eduardo Capulong, Cynthia Ford, Larry Howell, and Greg Munro

Core Courses:

Suggested Courses:

Criminal Law

Course Advisors: Professors Jordan Gross, Andrew King-Ries, and Jeff Renz

Core Courses:

Suggested Courses:

Perspectives on Law

Course Advisors: Professors Bari Burke and Eduardo Capulong

Suggested Courses: