Legal Analysis, Research and Writing Program Goals and Learning Objectives

To understand the United States legal system and lawyers' principal roles in that system.

Students will understand:

  • How lawyers interpret and use the texts of U.S. law in advising clients and preventing and resolving disputes.
  • The basics of U.S. legal culture: U.S. Constitution, U.S. legal institutions, and federalism.
  • The sources of federal and state law and their primary texts.
  • The concepts of binding authority, persuasive authority and stare decisis.
  • The development of the common law.

To read, understand and use cases to construct legal arguments.

Students will:

  • Brief a case opinion, accurately identifying the issue on appeal, holding, judgment, procedural history, material facts, rules of law, reasoning and policy choices.
  • Evaluate a case opinion from multiple perspectives: e.g., use of precedent, reasoning, and rhetoric; reliance on historic, economic or political sources and cultural or social values; and attention to prospective impact.
  • Construct a synthesis of multiple case holdings

To read, understand and use statutes and other enacted rules to solve legal problems or construct legal arguments.

Students will:

  • Understand the basic theories and practice of legislative enactment and interpretation.
  • Understand the relationship between cases and statutes, and the appropriate uses of each in solving legal problems.

To predict the probable judicial resolution of simulated legal disputes.

Students will:

  • Recognize legal issues in simulated scenarios.
  • Identify and categorize material facts in scenarios.
  • Identify and synthesize relevant rules of law from one or more primary legal authorities.
  • Identify and evaluate analogies and distinctions between facts in the sources of the rules and in scenario facts.
  • Deduce, articulate and explain a conclusion of law based upon the application of a rule of law to scenario facts.
  • Identify and evaluate reasons for choosing among competing analyses of the rules of law or applications of rules to facts.

To write a memorandum predicting the probable judicial resolution of a simulated legal dispute in a form that conforms to basic professional conventions regarding analytic support, organization and style.

Students will:

  • Write clear and concise paragraphs supporting and evaluating the components of a conclusion of law.
  • Identify and employ effective organizational techniques.
  • Use standard formal English, including correct grammar, syntax, punctuation, and mechanics.
  • Understand when and how to support a legal assertion.
  • Use standard legal citation format.
  • Progress toward mastery of professional diction and style.

To conduct basic legal research.

Students will:

  • Find and retrieve legal texts, in electronic and print formats, at a level of competence sufficient to support first-year course work.
  • Understand basic legal bibliography and print finding tools.
  • Develop efficient and effective skills on Westlaw and Lexis/Nexis.
  • Understand basic internet legal research techniques and identify and evaluate databases for legal information.
  • Construct a research plan that identifies issues and relevant types of legal authorities for simulated client scenarios.
  • Memorialize research findings regarding a simulated scenario in a concise written summary that:
    • Orders all legal authorities pertinent to the scenario in a hierarchy determined by relevance to the scenario.
    • Describes each legal authority in sufficient detail to make its relevance apparent.
    • Includes accurate and complete citations.
    • Would be sufficient to support drafting of a law office memorandum.

To recognize excellent writing in and about law, and to learn techniques for improving one’s own writing.

Students will:

  • Develop a basic ability to identify and employ an appropriate format, organization, level of detail, style and tone for conveying a legal analysis, advice or advocacy to various simulated lay or professional audiences.
  • Begin to develop a personal “voice” for writing about legal matters.
  • Distinguish between effective and ineffective legal writing in various contexts.
  • Be able to provide constructive editorial advice for a peer’s writing about legal issues.

To learn techniques for time-management, self-reflection and collaboration, which are necessary for successful academic study and professional practice.

Students will:

  • Learn to use effective briefing, note-taking, and drafting techniques.
  • Learn to manage time to support collaborative activities.
  • Understand the relation between effective work habits and meeting professional responsibilities.
  • Reflect on their own learning process.
  • Be able to collaborate with peers in a group problem-solving process.
  • Understand the relation between ongoing acquisition of information and skills and meeting professional responsibilities.

To learn techniques of persuasive written advocacy

Students will:

  • Learn rhetorical techniques for framing legal issues, presenting a compelling account of relevant facts, and articulating legal arguments to persuade judges or other legal actors.
  • Learn the basic structure of and formatting requirements for persuasive legal pleadings (motions, briefs, and other forms) in trial or appellate courts.
  • Develop written and oral communication skills that maximize the impact of the lawyer’s own credibility.
  • Understand a lawyer’s professional responsibilities and ethical duties in the context of oral and written advocacy.