Effective lawyers are effective communicators. Our LLEAP program trains students to be effective lawyers.
“LLEAP” stands for “Legal Writing, Leadership, Experiential Learning, Advocacy and Professionalism." The name signifies the holistic approach we take to train students how to represent clients and serve as valued members of their legal communities. Every LLEAP course includes training in legal writing, practical skills and professional development.
LLEAP is a required three-semester component (9 credits) of the JD curriculum. A full-time professor teaches each LLEAP section. In addition, adjunct professors who are practicing attorneys teach two simulation modules per semester. Teaching assistants (upper-level law students) assist in each LLEAP class by mentoring students and providing one-on-one tutoring.
By the time students graduate, they will be well trained in the lawyer’s primary craft: writing. Along the way, students will develop a portfolio of quality writing samples to present to potential employers.
"Our students’ remarkable successes [in the Appellate Litigation Clinic] would not be possible without the LLEAP program. In our clinic, they have the luxury of focusing on the substance of their cases and thoughtful strategy because so much of the foundational skill development is already under their belts.”
~Andrew Pollis, Director, Appellate Litigation Clinic
Students take LLEAP 1 in their first semester. This course teaches the fundamental skills of lawyering. Throughout the semester, students:
- learn how to read and analyze judicial opinions
- conduct independent legal research
- write an objective memorandum of law
- learn legal citation methods
- interview a client or witness
- advise a client regarding a pending legal dispute
- write a complete contract
- begin developing a professional identity
LLEAP 2 is a continuation of LLEAP 1 and gives students the opportunity to refine their analytical, research, and writing skills. In this course, students:
- conduct in-depth independent research on complex legal issues
- write persuasive briefs advocating on behalf of a client
- negotiate a settlement agreement or other contract
- conduct an oral argument
Students take LLEAP 3 in the spring or fall of their second year. In LLEAP 3, students build on knowledge from LLEAP 1 and 2 by engaging in a simulated legal proceeding from start to finish. Students may choose to take LLEAP 3 in a business transaction or litigation setting.
In these advanced writing and skills courses, the classroom is transformed into a law firm. Students research, write, advise clients, negotiate and advocate exactly as a junior business or litigation attorney would.
In LLEAP 3 Litigation, students work on a litigation proceeding from the initial client interview through opening statements at trial. Throughout the semester students:
- interview a client
- draft pleadings
- exchange written discovery with the opposing side
- depose the opposing party
- participate in a case-management conference
- provide advisory communications to a client
- draft a response brief to a motion for summary judgment
- engage in a final pretrial conference
- give an opening statement for a trial
“I love helping to create a curriculum that offers students a true look at what it means to litigate a case from start to finish. The simulation component of the class gives students the unique and invaluable opportunity to test and develop their litigation skills—including negotiation, oral presentation, client interaction, and even deposition skills. I wish this class was something that every associate at my firm was able to experience!”
~Angela Lydon ('11), Frantz Ward LLP, Vice Chair, Litigation Practice
In LLEAP 3 Transactions, students conduct the sale of a business. Students begin with a term sheet and work through everything necessary to “close the deal.” Throughout the semester students:
- work from a term sheet, to a letter of intent, to an asset purchase agreement, to an amendment to asset purchase agreement
- conduct due diligence, including financial statement analysis
- exchange correspondence with the opposing side
- provide advisory communications to a client
- meet with and advise the client on sale-related legal and business issues
- negotiate resolutions to objections to the sale
- draft closing documents necessary to complete the deal
"The negotiation simulation in the Case Western Reserve University School of Law’s LLEAP program is an absolute game changer for students preparing for the real world of transactional law. The curriculum does an excellent job of combining the classroom experience, research, writing and negotiation. I wish this had been available to me prior to starting my career!"
~Chris Salata ('01), Chief Operating Officer, Industrial Commercial Properties
In addition to the LLEAP courses, students can hone their legal writing and practical skills by enrolling in one of CWRU's many upper-level writing and experiential courses, including:
Students have the opportunity to write a scholarly article while participating in one of five law journals:
- Law Review
- Health Matrix
- Journal of International Law
- Journal of Law, Technology, & the Internet
- Canada-U.S. Law Journal
Students in Appellate Practice learn how to write an effective appellate brief and present a persuasive oral argument. The course culminates in an NCAA bracket-style competition judged by faculty, practitioners, and judges. Many students who take Appellate Practice go on to participate on one of CWRU's moot court teams.
Writing Seminars and Supervised Research
Students may take one of the school’s numerous writing seminars or create their own independent research and writing project under the supervision of a faculty member. Offerings depend on semester, but some examples of past writing seminars include:
- Museum Law
- War and Morality
- Intellectual Property Advanced Topics
- Financial System Integrity
- Business Organizations
- State Constitutional Law
- African American Lawyers
- Public Law
- Reproductive Rights
- Human Trafficking Advanced Research
- Child Welfare Law
- Mediation Representation
In our labs and practicums, students work on discrete legal issues presented to faculty by courts and practitioners who seek assistance on live cases.
“Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law’s experiential program prepares students to be client-ready attorneys in careers that serve those who need the most legal protections. We’ve appreciated our close partnership with the School of Law.”
-Legal Aid Society of Cleveland