California Western -- Curriculum

Many faculty at California Western School of Law teach the traditional analytical method. Faculty realize increasingly, however, that while mastering the traditional method is important, rapid changes in the law and the profession require students and lawyers to be familiar with additional methods for preventing and solving problems. Therefore, the faculty has developed courses in many fields which either focus on teaching alternative processes for preventing and solving problems or employ alternative processes in teaching substantive material.

Due to the many courses offered, students may pursue an
area of concentration in creative problem solving, which includes both preventing problems where possible and solving problems that do arise more creatively.

Core Courses

Introduction to Creative Problem Solving
This 75 minute class is designed to help the student expand the context in which legal problems are identified by recognizing the hidden assumptions they make when identifying problems.

Problem Identification in a Multicultural Setting
This practicum course will focus on cultural values and communication styles that affect the identification of legal problems.

Problem Solving & Preventive Law
Research-based, scholarly writing seminar incorporating readings concerning the nature of problem solving and problem prevention through legal and non-legal means.

Problem Solving Skills & Theory
Interactive skills-based course emphasizing listening and communicating; understanding conflict through understanding interests; collaborating and finding solutions of mutual gain; developing insight, creativity, and judgment; and designing systems to prevent problems.

Related Courses  

Administrative Law (Professor Johnson)
Web-based module integrating CPS skills into practical problems in Administrative law. Students work in small groups using a CPS worksheet to create proposed rules to implement the duties of the Office of Homeland Security. A final paper analyzes a problem, or current or pending statute and devise a legislative solution to the problem.

Advanced Mediation
Teaches creative problem solving through a variety of advanced mediation techniques, which students use to mediate actual cases in Small Claims Court and Juvenile Hall. Additionally, students use a model of creative problem solving learned in the classroom to present to the class their own creative solutions to issues in the mediation field.

Alternative Dispute Resolution
Uses a variety of processes, such as role playing and stop action videos, and introduces students to alternative dispute resolution processes such as mediation, arbitration, mini trial, fact finding, judicial arbitration, advisory arbitration and negotiation.

Business Organizations (Professor Johnson or Dessent)
A web-based electronic workbook is used to review Business Law and Planning basics individually, using the workbook as a tutorial with Q&A and small group discussion questions. The class then breaks into groups of 10 to select an appropriate legal entity and negotiate an ownership and operating agreement. Students are graded on workbook and a Deal memo using creative problem solving skills to devise a win-win situation.

Business Planning:  Representing Modest Business Enterprises
Teaches interviewing and counseling skills in a business setting. Students engage in role playing to determine which legal structure best suits the needs of the client. The students then work in groups to create that legal structure.

Community Organizing and Problem Solving  
Students will learn how to interview and investigate, analyze a problem to understand its roots, build a team of advocates, and develop advocacy plans that can help communities solve their problems. 

Current Issues in Constitutional Law 
Gives appreciation of dynamics of Supreme Court decision-making by studying Supreme Court procedures and currently pending cases. Students then research the decisions and records of a current justice and assume the role of that justice in a mock argument of the pending case. In a subsequent case conference, students continue to discuss and vote on each case in their role of a particular justice.

Entertainment Law
In the first part of the course students study cutting edge issues in the five branches of the entertainment
 industry using a variety of sources such as case law, regulations, industry standards, collective-bargaining agreements, trade journals and news articles. In the latter part of the course students structure, negotiate, and prepare the necessary documentation for an entertainment-law transaction. Throughout the course students are taught processes for anticipating problems and fostering collaboration which are designed to avoid litigation.

Health Law & Policy
An introduction to health care delivery in the United States. Access, cost, and quality of care examined from both a policy and legal perspective with an emphasis on recent changes in the area.

International Labor & Employment Law
This course surveys various aspects of international labor and employment law focusing on consultation, prevention and cooperative solutions to labor problems rather than traditional litigation and legislative solutions.  Among other things, students learn about the positive and negative aspects of codes of conduct and public pressure campaigns.

Interviewing, Counseling, and Planning         
This course introduces students to interviewing and counseling skills as a way to help clients prevent problems and achieve their goals.

Jurisprudence:  Selected Topics
Focuses on societal problems that have both a legal and moral base, such as abortion, to emphasize the importance of identifying the underlying philosophical problem rather than simply accepting the popular or superficial definition of the problem. It emphasizes problem solving as a reconciliation of opposing positions into a higher or more comprehensive unity.

Law, Medicine & Public Policy
Attempts to understand the nature of how difficult health delivery considerations and issues interact with law that result in particular types of public policy.  Provides an understanding of how the particular health law and policy became extant, the difficulties with such law and policy, and what solutions can address the issues raised.

Mediation and Negotiation Courses
Provide students with intensive exposure to, and practice in, negotiation and communication skills which are essential to problem solving. Students engage in role playing in mediation and negotiation simulations, learning how to involve the disputants and assist others in reaching peaceful and fair resolutions.

Problem Solving & Prevention in Health Care 
Students who take this course will learn a wide variety of collaborative approaches to problem solving and prevention in the health care context.  Approaches include negotiation, mediation, arbitration, judicial processes, with particular emphasis on the newer practices of facilitation and systems design in conflict management. 

Telecommunications Law

Uses a modular or problem-based approach to analyze current problems in Telecom Law. Students work in small groups and negotiate solutions using worksheet designed to take them through creative problem solving steps and analysis.

Women and the Law
Consensus decision-making is used to reach decisions on course coverage, syllabus, grading system, topic selection, due dates, and all other significant questions. Having used consensus decision-making, instead of hierarchical or voting process, students have the opportunity to consider options to traditional decision-making systems.