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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.