Legal Skills Program
In addition to the substantive courses taught in the first year—Civil Procedure, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, and Torts—the Legal Skills curriculum will help you develop the skills and perspective needed to succeed in law school and legal practice.
With a focus on legal research, writing, analysis, and professionalism, Legal Skills offers you the opportunity to begin to think and to act like a lawyer. By the end of the two-semester course, you should feel comfortable handling assignments in your summer internship or clerkship.
About Our Faculty
Unlike many law schools, our Legal Skills curriculum is taught by full-time faculty members, each of whom has years of legal practice experience in the public and private sector. Our collegial community of experienced practitioners is committed to the academic success of our students, providing a supportive and comfortable learning environment.
These professors will offer you substantive feedback on your work, helping you to revise and refine your assignments through the year. Through office visits, meetings, and small class settings, you will get to know these professors and develop professional relationships that last beyond law school.
Our skilled research librarians have developed advanced legal research courses in a range of areas including international law, health law, and business law, which can help you develop real-world skills aligned with your career interests.
Introduction to Legal Skills
We will help you begin to develop your legal skills before your first day of class. All entering students take our Introduction to Legal Skills course, taught the week before the semester begins. This course will help you develop those skills a successful law student needs, including case briefing, rule synthesis, deductive reasoning, analogical reasoning, and issue analysis. You will also receive instruction on outlining, exam preparation, use of study aids and study groups, and time management.
Oral Advocacy Competitions
A highlight of the first year skills curriculum is the opportunity to participate in oral advocacy competitions. You may choose to participate in one of our intraschool competitions, preparing and delivering an opening or closing argument with the support of student mentors from our Moot Court Honors Board.
In a "March Madness" style competition, all first year students participate in the appellate oral argument competition, developing a brief and oral argument on a set fact pattern assigned to all students and judged by members of the Moot Court Honors Board and members of the trial and appellate teams. The top two students from each class advance to a semi-final round; students from this group are selected for the final round. Through this competition, you will build relationships with your fellow students and develop confidence in your written and oral advocacy skills.
Scholarly Writing Component
As part of the skills curriculum, you will research and write a scholarly paper on a topic of your choice in your second or third year, in close consultation with your professor. Many of our students have their scholarly work published in legal journals during and after law school.
After the First Year
The skills and values developed in the first year skills curriculum are refined in the second and third year, through our STEPPS Program clinics, and experiential courses. In your coursework, you will draft documents, produce discovery, create transactional writing assignments, and more. Each of these experiences is designed to prepare you to provide useful work for clients and employers upon graduation from law school.