Learning Outcomes

During three years of law school, students learn how to think about the law in a variety of substantive domains and develop skills and abilities that will enable them both to think deeply about the social, interpersonal, and institutional problems their clients bring them and to attain a level of competence that employers should expect from a new law graduate. Through our curriculum, we expect students to develop the following specific knowledge and skills:

Substantive Law

  • Required Courses: Criminal Law; Torts; Contracts; Law, Legislation and Regulation; Property; Civil Procedure; Constitutional Law; Professional Responsibility.
  • General Education Requirements: four of the following nine courses: Business Associations; Conflict of Laws; Criminal Procedure I; Constitutional Law II; Evidence; Family Law; Sales; Secured Transactions; and Wills, Trusts, and Future Interests.
  • Optional Concentration Requirements.

Critical Thinking

  • Identifying and evaluating assumptions.
  • Evaluating causal arguments.
  • Absorbing, synthesizing, and evaluating large amounts of new information.
  • Understanding the relationship between law and social practices.
  • Identifying institutional determinants and behaviors.
  • Articulating arguments that proceed from alternative premises and perspectives.

Writing Ability

  • Formulating clear, concise, logical, arguments based on critical analysis of a legal problem.
  • Understanding and employing the basic legal writing paradigm Conclusion, Rule, Explanation, Application, and Conclusion (CREAC) or a variation thereof to legal issues of varying complexity.
  • Logically organizing a legal analysis by synthesizing the applicable legal rules.
  • Drafting objective memoranda that fully analyze the relevant case law, apply the facts, and predict the likely outcome in court.
  • Drafting legal briefs that advocate for the client’s position and anticipate and address the opposing counsel’s strongest arguments.
  • Reading, writing, and negotiating basic service and purchase and sales contracts with an emphasis on analyzing which party should be bound by covenants, rights, representations, warranties, and indemnities.
  • Drafting client-advice communication that summarizes legal research and makes recommendations on how the client should proceed.
  • Concisely drafting contract provisions using a common vocabulary, avoiding ambiguity, and devising provisions and details that the parties had not specifically addressed but that are needed to protect the client.
  • Using email appropriately as a method of communicating to clients and other attorneys.
  • Editing documents to ensure that the text is clear, concise, civil, and grammatically correct. Avoiding common pitfalls such as wordiness, passive voice, improper pronouns, comma misuse, and missing apostrophes.
  • Writing persuasively, using techniques such as persuasive thesis sentences and impactful short sentences.
  • Following the basic rules of legal citation for case law, statutes, and secondary authority (including following the proper format for each audience and jurisdiction).

Oral Communication

  • Delivering information to, and receiving information from, different audiences (and tailoring the approach to the audience), including clients, colleagues, judges, and opposing counsel.
  • Understanding and practicing the fundamentals of effective oral advocacy in a formal setting.

Client Skills

  • Developing relationships with clients in order to effectively assess their objectives, identify solutions, and work toward a desired outcome, while fostering client confidence and trust.
  • Explaining the law to clients in a professional manner, even when the law seems not to reinforce their interests.

Legal/Factual Research and Analysis

  • Applying legal doctrine and theory to problem solving in client-specific contexts.
  • Understanding the fundamentals of manual and computerized legal research.
  • Researching case law from various jurisdictions, including statutory and other legislative law and secondary authority.
  • Identifying and selecting relevant authority to support arguments in memos and briefs.
  • Distinguishing unfavorable law through evaluating factual or legal differences or policy arguments.
  • Performing inductive analysis by synthesizing case law to explain legal principles that apply to the legal issues being analyzed.
  • Breaking a rule down into its component parts and analyzing each element of the rule separately.
  • Performing deductive analysis by applying the relevant legal rule or element to the specific and relevant facts of a case.
  • Performing analogical reasoning by selecting the most relevant examples of similar or distinguishable cases and explaining how the cases advance the legal argument and why the similarities or dissimilarities are significant.
  • Identifying ambiguities in statutes, regulations, and cases and using the ambiguities to advocate for the client.

Ethics and Professionalism

  • Ensuring that legal work and interactions with clients, courts, and adversaries at all times reflect standards of civility and comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct.
  • Selecting from the available problem-solving options with the required deliberation and care to achieve the best possible outcome for the client within the bounds of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the practical realities.
  • Dealing with “bad facts” and adverse authority and meeting ethical obligations to disclose this information to the court while still maintaining a strong position on behalf of a client.
  • Determining when to strategically disclose adverse authority to the court even when there is no ethical obligation to do so.
  • Working in small groups to brainstorm potential arguments on behalf of a client.
  • Performing “peer” edits of discrete portions of other students’ drafts and how to offer and receive constructive criticism.
  • Implementing and following systems and protocols to ensure efficiency, organization, and risk management (e.g., file maintenance, communication etiquette).     
  • Developing a professional identity as a lawyer, mindful of the duties and responsibilities of a lawyer in relation to other stakeholders within the legal system, including clients, courts, opposing counsel, others within a firm (including supervisors, support staff, and colleagues), the public, and the rule of law itself.

Other Lawyering Skills

  • Understanding and respecting the institutional structure of a law-practice setting and the individual and group roles that promote efficient and productive work, which includes developing the emotional intelligence both to lead effectively and to work effectively in a team setting.
  • Developing self-awareness in the context of one’s personal values, vision, career aspirations, and leadership competencies.
  • Developing self-awareness in relation to others through working with classmates in a learning group.
  • Understanding what it means to be an effective leader and developing a learning plan to increase the capability to lead, manage, and work with others effectively.
  • Learning and applying negotiation skills.
  • Developing ability to integrate and apply knowledge in real practice under supervision.