Curriculum & Catalog
The Woodruff Curriculum is one of the true hallmarks of a Mercer education and will help distinguish you as a professional throughout your career. Initiated in 1990, the philosophy behind the curriculum was truly ahead of its time and continues to be viewed as a model by law schools across the country.
The History of the Woodruff Curriculum
Atlanta philanthropist George W. Woodruff bestowed $15 million to Mercer's School of Law, along with a challenge to "...make a very good law school even better." In response to this challenge, Mercer faculty and administrators looked deeply into the practice of law, how today's lawyers have been prepared, and how tomorrow's lawyers could be better prepared. Their hard work and efforts were realized by the launch of the Woodruff Curriculum, which has helped to re-define the concept of legal education.
- Class sizes were reduced to levels that place Mercer's classes among the smallest in the country
- Course requirements were revised to place an even greater emphasis on practical skills, ethics, and professionalism needed for the practice of law
- A first-of-its-kind legal writing program was launched and has since evolved into one of America's finest
- Cutting-edge technology and resources were added to an already comprehensive law library
- The Woodruff Scholarship was established to attract the sharpest minds
Recognized for Excellence
As a result of these efforts, Mercer's Walter F. George School of Law is one of only a select group of schools in the country to have received the Gambrell Professionalism Award from the American Bar Association. The award cited the curriculum's "depth and excellence" and its ability to "turn law students into professionals."
The First Year
The vision and foresight of the Woodruff Curriculum will become evident on your first day at Mercer. Your first semester will begin with Introduction to the Study of Law, a one-week course designed to demystify the teaching methods and goals of law school.
After that, in addition to the traditional core courses, such as Torts and Contracts, you will take an award winning course on The Legal Profession, which examines what “professionalism” means for lawyers and the extraordinary challenges and opportunities that come with a life in the law.
And you will not have to wait to receive the benefits of small classes—several first-year courses have fewer than 25 students.
The Second Year
At the start of your second year, you will take a workshop on client interviewing and counseling. The curriculum’s strong focus on lawyering skills continues in the second year with a required legal writing course that focuses on appellate advocacy.
The Third Year
Your third year will begin with a workshop on dispute resolution, followed by a core course, Law of Lawyering, in which you will grapple with ethical and professional challenges in the life of a lawyer.
You will continue to hone your writing skills in a required seminar in the third year, and your final semester should complete the bridge to practice, as you take an Advanced Skills course in areas such as counseling, negotiation, or drafting.
Mercer Law's pathway program is an advising tool to use in selecting courses. Each Pathway identifies recommended courses that students should consider taking in light of their particular practice goals. These Pathways do not create any specialties, concentrations or required courses. Rather, they are intended to advise about courses that should be useful in pursuit of a particular practice area after graduation. View the pathway program.
The degree requirements, grading scale and policy, guidelines regarding transfer credit and other academic policies are included in the Student Handbook. A complete listing of required courses and the course catalog, including all course descriptions, is available on the Registrar’s page.