Juris Doctor Law Program

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Empire College’s Juris Doctor Degree Program in California

At Empire College School of Law in California, our Juris Doctorate program allows students to confidently handle the demands and responsibilities of a legal career in today’s constantly evolving field of law.

As one of the top-ranked Northern California law colleges, our students stay ahead of the curve by learning from distinguished Doctorate faculty who are experts in their specific areas of law. The experience they bring to the classroom contributes to our strong reputation as a law school that produces high-quality graduates. We aim to give our Juris Doctorate students every advantage as they work toward their ultimate goal of becoming lawyers.

With a Juris Doctor degree, students gain the critical thinking, communication and professional skills they need to succeed in any career field.

The courses available in the Juris Doctor program at Empire College School of Law are outlined below. View a sample schedule here or learn more about our applied learning opportunities. 

Juris Doctor Curriculum

86 Program Units

Introductory Courses

Our Juris Doctor degree begins here with the basic foundation of all legal service: effective research. In these two introductory courses, students will be shown the basic tenets of the U.S. legal system and correct methods for finding material relevant to client needs.

LAW I401 Introduction to Law (1 unit)
Introduces the student to the basic concepts of the law, the historical roots of common law and equity, the precedent system in its practical operation, the modes of reasoning used by courts/attorneys and the fundamentals of statutory interpretation.

LAW I402 Legal Research and Writing (2 units)
An introduction to legal analytical thought, including practical exercises in writing and the fundamentals of legal research that provides a foundation for writing legal papers.

First Year Required Courses

Our Juris Doctor degree continues into dynamic legal territory as we introduce our students to the complex world of criminal law, the complicated loops of contract law, and sections dedicated to proving negligence, injury compensation and where tort law is separated by civil proceedings from criminal.

LAW 500A/B Contracts (6 units)
Remedies for breach of contract: consideration; offer and acceptance; problems of performance; conditions; impossibility; third party beneficiaries; assignment; Parole Evidence Rule; Statute of Frauds.

LAW 501A/B Criminal Law (6 units)
Nature and sources of criminal law; elements of crimes; analyses of specific crimes; legal defenses; California Penal Code and decisions; procedure.

LAW 502A/B Torts (6 units)
Intentional wrongs to person and property; unintentional wrongs; negligence; duty of persons in control of property; tort liability arising from contractual relationships; liability for defective products; liability without fault; deceit; defamation; malicious prosecution; interference with contractual economic and other legally protectable relations, tort alternatives.

LAW 503 Law Study and Exams (1 unit)
An orientation to the study of law school examinations consisting of exam writing and a self-evaluation with an assessment of law study techniques for the effective study of law.

Second Year Required Courses

Our Juris Doctor degree enters the fascinating area of civil procedure, limits of court interrogations, examining and using physical evidence during trial, burden of proof, constitutional considerations, tenant law, and the political hot-button issue of eminent domain.

LAW 600A/B Civil Procedure (6 units)
Jurisdiction – traditional and modern concepts. Federal and State subject matter jurisdiction; judgments; res judicata and collateral estoppel; forms of action, demurrer, answer, cross-actions, amendment of pleadings, joinder of actions and parties, venue of actions, process, motions, civil discovery, trial procedure, dismissals, non-suit, directed verdict.

LAW 603A/B Constitutional Law (6 units)
The federal structure: Judicial review, congressional powers, commerce power, state powers and federalism, individual rights, due process, equal protection, state action, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression.

LAW 601A/B Evidence (6 units)
Problems in relevancy; circumstantial evidence, including habit, custom, compromises, and character evidence; witnesses, including competency privilege, examination, impeachment and rehabilitation; opinion evidence; Constitutional considerations and exclusionary rules; hearsay evidence and the exceptions to its exclusion; authenticity of writings; the “best evidence” rule, burden and proof and presumptions.

Third Year Required Courses

The third year of our Juris Doctor degree investigates how standard contractual law differs from wills and trusts. The federal structure and separation of powers are examined at length.

LAW 702A/B Real Property (6 units)
The law of real property; historical back-ground; common law estates and interests; statute of uses and modern conveyancing; concurrent ownership; landlord and tenant; deeds and delivery; boundaries; recording acts and title search; contract for sale of land; easements, servitudes and other land use restrictions; adverse possession; landowners; rights, including air, water, mineral and lateral and subjacent support.

LAW 701A Wills and Trusts (3 units)
Covers intestacy; execution; integration; republication; incorporation by reference, independent significance; revocation and revival; will contracts; testamentary capacity; lapse, ademption; satisfaction; will contests; will substitutes; nature and classification of trusts; elements of a trust, creation of inter vivos and testamentary trusts; revocable and irrevocable trusts; insurance trusts; nature of the beneficiary’s interest, including restraints on alienation and principles regarding transferability; modification and termination of trusts; charitable trusts, fiduciary administration, including qualification, duties, standards and liabilities of fiduciary; management, investment and accounting by fiduciary; powers of appointment.

Fourth Year Required Courses

The fourth and final year of Empire College’s School of Law Juris Doctor degree investigates the phenomenon of modern corporate legal culture and their place in the governance of the United States. This section delves into the complex world of shareholder rights and ownership as well.

LAW 800A/B Business Organizations (6 units)
Formation; pre-incorporation activities; de facto corporations; ultra vires acts; role, authority and meetings of officers, directors and shareholders; standard of care; proxy solicitations; close corporations; fiduciary relations; shareholder litigation; capitalization; dividend distributions; fundamental changes; partnerships and agency.

LAW 801A/B Remedies (5 units)
General scope of remedies; principles governing general use of equitable remedies; general scope of interpleader, declaratory relief (and related remedies), constructive trusts, and equitable liens; principles governing use of and defenses to specific performance and injunctions; equitable conversion; technical aspects of injunctions; damages.

Other Required Classes

Refining one’s skills in the basic practice of law is tantamount to student success within the legal field. These are advanced courses designed to give students ample experience in legal services.

The R504 course may be of particular interest to top-performing students, as it is a chance for them to represent Empire College School of Law in the annual Roger J. Traynor Apellate Moot Court Competition. Under the guidance of faculty coaches, the team will research and write an appellate brief analyzing an actual case before the California Appellate Courts and then participate with teams from other top law schools in the oral argument competition.

LAW R500 Advanced Legal Research (2 units)
Introduces students to Lexis, Westlaw, and other on-line and CD ROM computer access libraries. Students will be taught to plan a search, perform searching, modify searching and Shepardizing using computer access libraries.

LAW R501 Advanced Legal Writing (2 units)
Students will learn how to write briefs and legal memoranda that get to the heart of the issues. They will learn to develop a clear, concise English prose style that they will apply to writing about legal subjects. Students will focus on substantive analysis of legal problems, grammar, and organization, with a goal of making themselves understood the first time.

LAW R502 Community Property (3 units)
Historical development of community property law; jurisdictional issues; classification of marital property, community or separate; valuation of community property including business and goodwill; management of marital property; liability for marital and individual debts; division of community property on dissolution or death; problems posed by unmarried, cohabiting couples.

LAW R503 Criminal Procedure (2 units)
Arrest through Appellate Proceeding, including bail, arraignment, preliminary motions, discovery, and trial procedure. Recent Supreme Court decisions on right to counsel, freedom from prejudicial publicity, fair trial, and other constitutional guarantees.

LAW R504 Moot Court (2 units)
Students research, write, and argue a brief before a mock appellate court. The course emphasizes effective research and writing techniques and introduces the student to making oral arguments in court.

LAW R505 Professional Responsibility (2 units)
Application of the California Rules of Professional Conduct, the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and relevant case materials; examination of disciplinary system; relationship between disciplinary and legal malpractice liability; duties of attorneys with respect to clients, the courts, opposing parties and the public; problems arising from conflicts of interest.

Elective Courses

In order to provide the best law degree program possible to students, Empire College School of Law has built an impressive curriculum of electives that help students specialize in unique sectors of the legal field.

Our elective course list has notable entries including Disability Law, which allows students to work at an actual law clinic benefiting the disabled; Environmental Law/Negotiations Competition, which allows students to debate and negotiate one of today’s hottest political topics in front of legal professionals and judges; Intellectual Property Law, which introduces students to a recent resurgence of issues involving digital copying and fair use standards; and our Clinical Education Program, also known as a professional externship at a local law firm.

NOTE: This is a partial/representative elective course list.

LAW E502 Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Survey (2 units)
The purpose of this course is to give students an understanding of various dispute resolution processes which have come to be described under the umbrella term “alternative dispute resolution.” Primary emphasis is on arbitration and mediation techniques in the context of those fields most familiar to practicing lawyers. Comparisons are made to standard civil litigation methods as a way to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each process, much as a lawyer would want to do in advising a client. As time permits, consideration is also given to the general question of the role of the law in shaping and promoting these dispute resolution techniques.

LAW E503 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (2 units)
This course will cover Title I (employment), Title II (State and Local Government Services), Title III (Public Accommodations), Title IV (Telecommunications) and Title V (Miscellaneous) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as its relationship with California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Unruh Civil Rights Act.

LAW E506 Bankruptcy/Debtor-Creditor Law (2 units)
Rights and duties of consumer credit grantors and consumer debtors; fair credit reporting; fair debt collection practices and consumer remedies. Creation, scope and administrative function of federal debtor proceedings and arrangements; wage earner plans; insolvency proceedings.

LAW E547 California Government and Administrative Law (2 units)
This course will teach students the fundamental legal framework of California cities and counties. It focuses on both substantive areas of municipal law and the process required when local governments legislate and adjudicate. The course will provide practical information, discuss current issues facing local governments, and discuss the most recent, cutting-edge cases.

LAW E508 Clinical Education Program (1-3 units)
The Clinical Education Program is an elective class that enables academically qualified third and fourth-year students the opportunity to gain clinical “hands-on” experience and units of credit working in the legal field. This type of program is also referred to as an externship. Students participating in the Program provide various services to clients under the supervision of a practicing lawyer. Through this program, the research and writing skills of the student are evaluated and developed. Students are given guidance so that they may learn the quality of work demanded of a competent practitioner working in the area of law involved. Participating students have the option to register with the California State Bar through the Practical Training of Law Students Program, in order to make court appearances on a client’s behalf.

LAW E510 Disability Law Clinic (1-3 units)
Six law students are invited to work in the Disability Law Clinic, the area’s primary resource for information and representation on the law as it pertains to people with disabilities, under the supervision of an attorney. Each student will be assigned several cases on which they will participate in all areas of case development from client interviews to court appearances. The cases assigned will all be in the area of Administrative Law. In addition to their work in the Law Clinic, students will attend a class in Administrative Law as it relates to Disability Practice. Class discussion will incorporate issues raised in the text, student experience with the Law Clinic, and current developments in Administrative Law.

LAW E511 Discovery Workshop (3 units)
Most litigators spend the majority of their time engaging in discovery. This trimester-long workshop not only discusses strategic considerations and discovery tactics, but involves a great deal of hands-on experience. Students will be conducting discovery in a mock lawsuit, which will include taking depositions in the presence of court reporters.

LAW E512 Elder Law (2 units)
This course takes an in-depth look at what may well be one of the most hotly debated issues facing our country today – the providing of opportunities, benefits, and care for an ever-increasing aging population. The course will examine such diverse programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and The Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Senior housing, long-term care, elder abuse and neglect, conservatorships, powers of attorney, right to die laws, and estate planning for elderly clients will also be studied as part of the course.

LAW E513 Elder Law Clinic (2 units)
This class provides students with real life client counseling opportunities with elderly persons. The clinic allows students to interact with clients, provide advice, follow-up, and direct clients to legal and non-legal resources. Students will draft legal documents and correspondence under the supervision of a practicing attorney. The clinic will provide the public with free legal advice.

LAW E515 Employment Law (3 units)
This course surveys employment law from its inception in English common law through the most recent developments in “at-will” employment and discrimination. State case law and portions of the Labor Code will also be addressed.

LAW E544 Employment Discrimination Law (3 units)
This course reviews state and federal laws and cases in employment discrimination and their interaction. Administrative issues concerning the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing will also be addressed.

LAW E556 Energy Law and Policy (3 units)
All social, economic and biological activities take energy. For much of industrial history, the energy powering society came from fossil fuels. This course examines the policies and legal framework governing the generation and supply of energy. The course challenges students to take a systems view and to think about energy not as a gallon of gas or watt of electricity but as an enabling force that for the last 200 years has allowed for the complex industrial world we see today.

LAW E516 Environmental Law (2-3 units)
A survey of legal principles and policies relating to protection and enhancement of the physical environment. Particular attention will be given to common law doctrines and public  rights and remedies; federal and state control programs for the field of air pollution, water pollution, noise, solid waste management, fish and wildlife resources; planning for  federal, state and local administrative agencies.

LAW E517 Environmental Negotiations Competition (1-2 units)
Each year students have an opportunity to compete in a statewide competition analyzing and negotiating an environmental problem. Students work in teams of two and must research and prepare arguments to resolve a lawsuit pertaining to environmental issues designed by the Environmental Section of the State Bar of California. The competition is structured and scored by practicing attorneys, professional mediators, and judges who are experts in the area of environmental law.

LAW E518 Family Law (2 units)
Practical and theoretical problems affecting the family: marriage, divorce, adoption, legitimacy, child custody, and parental obligations and rights.

LAW E535 Family Law Clinic (2 units)
This clinic provides students working with self-represented litigants. Most cases are in the areas of family law and landlord tenant law. SHAC offers free legal services to persons who have a related case in Sonoma County. Students will meet individually with parties and assist them with all aspects of their family law needs: divorce, paternity, custody, support. Students will learn Legal Solutions, Disso Master, drafting of pleadings and local court practices. A supervising attorney will oversee the work.

LAW E519 Federal Indian Law (3 units)
The course is designed to introduce students to the principal doctrines and rules governing the legal and political relationships between American Indian tribes and the United States Government.

LAW E551 Governance in Context (2 units)
This course seeks to stimulate a reexamination of contemporary government by studying the several domains which most influence it: human evolution, neurobiology,
psychology, philosophy, history, economics, and political science.

LAW E559 History of American Law (3 units)
An introductory survey of legal history and comparative systems of law, including discussion of principal legal traditions, with the aid of understanding foreign legal cultures, and the sources and historical elements in our own system of law.

LAW E523 Immigration Law (2 units)
Discussion of federal power, constitutional rights and issues, plenary power, the foundation cases, due process, and ethics. Consideration of visas, work permits, affidavits of support, court proceedings, asylum, refugees, and more.

LAW E524 Immigration Law Clinic (2 units)
The immigration law clinic is designed to provide students with hands-on, practical experience working on U visa cases for victims of crime. Under the supervision of the professor, students will be responsible for all aspects of case management for the clients assigned to them. Responsibilities include performing client interviews, conducting legal analysis, gathering evidence, drafting and filing applications, and maintaining client correspondence. Students are expected to adhere to the rules of professional conduct at all times. This includes maintaining client confidentiality, interacting respectfully with clients, and pursuing all casework in a diligent and timely manner.

LAW E525 Insurance Law (3 units)
A survey of the basic legal aspects of insurance law, including principles of insurable interests, problems of contract formation and interpretation and application for standard policy provisions in various types of coverage. Attention is also given to principles of indemnity, subrogation, and determination and control of the risk transferred from insured to carrier.

LAW E526 Intellectual Property Law (3 units)
Course includes an overview of the intellectual property field including patents, trademarks, copyrights, unfair competition, trade secrets, employer-employee relationships, the transfer of intellectual property rights, and the general application of anti-trust and misuse doctrines to such rights.

LAW E538 Internet Law (2 units)
We will explore how the internet works, and how legal principles of privacy, copyright, property, licenses, contracts, and defamation apply to social media and use of the internet. The first few weeks will be lecture and case study to lay the groundwork for the legal principles. The remainder of the class, students will pick topics to research, write and publish blog posts, and create video and in-class presentations on the topics. We will use Google+ to publish the class content, and use social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to explore privacy policies, Terms of Service, Fair Use Doctrine, the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, and related legal issues and questions. Students will be graded on their blog posts, presentations and a position paper analyzing a uestion of law that has not yet been decided.

LAW E553 Jurisprudence (2 units)
Jurisprudence, also known as philosophy of law, is an effort to answer basic questions about the law: Where does it come from? What is its purpose? What are necessary elements of a valid law? How do law and morals relate, i.e, do they overlap or are they totally different realms? Is disobedience against a “bad” law ever justified, and if so, on what basis? The answers to these questions appear in several current competing legal philosophies: Natural Law, Positivism, Realism, Sociological Jurisprudence, Law and Economic Theory, and Critical Legal Studies, all of which will be read in the required textbook. Students will find the course a good preparation for facing questions of constitutional law, ethics, legislation, judging, politics and social justice.

LAW E528 Law Office Management (2 units)
This class discusses the financial and administrative aspects of owning and operating a law practice. Students learn to use computer programs for calendaring, docketing, client billing, litigation support, and document preparation.

LAW E548 Legal Aid Clinic (2-3 units)
This class provides students with real life client counseling opportunities and exposure to a variety of poverty law topics. Dependent upon the number of hours the student commits to the clinic and the availability of attorneys to supervise, students will be allowed to interact with clients, provide legal advice under the supervision of an attorney, draft simple pleadings and direct clients to legal and non-legal resources. Students may work in the areas of Unlawful Detainers, Restraining Orders, Elder Abuse, and Guardianships. Students will draft legal documents and correspondence under the supervision of a practicing attorney. Some students may gain the opportunity to attend court hearings.

LAW E532 Moot Court Competition (1-3 units)
This program provides a team of three law students to represent Empire College School of Law in the annual Roger Traynor Moot Court Competition. Under the guidance of faculty coaches, the team will research and write an appellate brief analyzing an actual case before the California Appellate Courts. After submitting their written brief, the team will participate in oral arguments before appellate judges and attorneys. Empire Law School has a tradition of excellence and success in this statewide competition.

LAW E552 Non-Profit Organizations Law (3 units)
This course will survey the law governing the formation, operation and dissolution of nonprofit organizations, tax implications, as well as duties of in-house counsel and board members. Specific topics to include: formation; pre-incorporation activities; ongoing legal considerations facing non-profit corporations in all of their dealings, ranging from contracts, fundraising, HR, and more (also known as 501(c)(3)s). We will go through each “department” of a non-profit, whether large or small, or whether functions are done in-house or contracted out.

LAW E536 Sexual Orientation and the Law (2 units)
This course will examine some of the rapidly evolving legal issues specifically affecting the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, particularly in California. Substantive issues to be covered include employment discrimination and sexual harassment; discrimination against transgendered and gender non-conforming people; parenting issues; recognition of lesbian and gay relationships, including marriage, civil union, and domestic partnerships; freedom of speech and association; homophobia in schools; and immigration and asylum issues for LGBT people. We will examine these issues with a particular focus on constitutional doctrines, particularly equal protection and due process/privacy, utilizing case law, legal theory, news articles, and film to better understand how the law has developed, the current legal framework, and the practical impact this framework has on those governed by it.

LAW E537 Small Claims Advisory Clinic (1-3 units)
Empire College School of Law is pleased to provide guidance to people involved in Small Claims matters. In agreement with the Sonoma County Superior Court, the law school operates an advisory which provides help to people with questions regarding small claims cases. Under the supervision of an exper-ienced professor, students give information on the preparation and presentation of a small claims action. Walk-in and telephone assistance is available. Matters include landlord/tenant issues; automobile sales and repair; breach of contract and construction disputes.

LAW E539 Survey Course on the California Bar Exam Preparation & Skills (1-3 units)
This survey course combines all of the significant elements of three elective courses: E504, E530, and E531 and will be offered as a one-trimester course incorporating three, 4-to 5-week segments of each of the Bar preparation courses which are usually individually offered as separate electives. Taught by three professors, this course incorporates Legal Skills (Performance Test section), Analysis and Insights on the California Bar Exam (“straight” Essay Questions section), and MBE Exam Preparation (MBE section).

LAW E541 Trial Practice (3 units)
The course considers litigation problems – practical, legal and ethical – that confront a trial lawyer. Emphasis is given to techniques of client interviewing and investigation, both informal and by use of statutory discovery procedures and pleading. The student gains classroom experience in trial procedures from voir dire examination, opening statements, direct and cross examination through final argument.


Angela Emerick, Esq.

(Class of 2015)

"Being born in Australia and becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2009, I understand the process and honor of becoming an American citizen and am proud to help those in their quest to become citizens and better their lives."

Daryl Reese, Esq.

(Class of 2014)

"I decided to enroll in Law School when I was 50 years old having enjoyed a full career in the nonprofit sector. Now I have a robust business and nonprofit law practice serving clients throughout the State of California and I am loving it. I could never have made that kind of career transition if it had not been for Empire Law School. The opportunity to take evening courses and at a cost far less than other law schools, and to do so in my own community made my career shift affordable, enjoyable, and attainable."

Orchid Vaghti, Esq.

(Class of 2010)

"There are not that many new lawyers who have the experience to go to trial. They would not be ready for it. Seeing the practical points of the legal process through her Empire education gave Orchid an advantage."
- L. Stephen Turer, Esq.

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