The Legal Skills Program teaches fundamental lawyering skills through simulation and extensive feedback. The Legal Skills Program is critical to our students’ success. Students engage with problems they will face in practice and receive feedback illustrating how practitioners solve those problems. Our Legal Skills faculty are experienced practitioners who help students put theory into practice. The Legal Skills Program develops students’ abilities in four primary areas:
Students learn the building blocks of legal analysis:
- arguments based on rule
They learn to interpret statutes and common-law rules. And they learn the critical skill of applying the law to the facts of their cases, both to predict how the law will apply and to advocate for their clients.
Students learn the conventions and style required for:
- predictive memos
- trial-level briefs
- appellate briefs
Throughout the program, the Legal Skills Faculty emphasize the needs of the attorney or judge who will read their work product, as well as the high professional standards their writing must meet in practice.
Students learn the sources of primary and secondary authority, as well as the many print and online finding tools they may have available to them in practice. They then learn to develop and execute research strategies tailored to the varying situations that practitioners face.
The simulated exercises introduce students to essential lawyering skills beyond legal research and writing. Students learn to put their analytical skills into context as they engage in such tasks as:
- fact investigation
- client interviewing
- drafting pleadings and discovery requests
- oral argument
Legal Skills faculty
Professor Shaun Spencer directs the Legal Skills Program. In the first year, students receive instructions from full-time faculty members, including Professor Spencer and our Legal Skills specialists, Professor Carol Mallory and Professor Jason Potter. In the third semester of the program, the students learn from a group of dedicated, experienced practitioners who have taught in the program for several years. The program works closely with the law school administration, the faculty, and the Academic Success Program to assist in providing students with opportunities to participate in writing and advocacy across the curriculum.
The Legal Skills Program spans three semesters:
In the third year of law school, students have the opportunity to continue their legal skills education through advanced coursework. The advanced curriculum includes such courses as:
- Advanced Appellate Advocacy
- Advanced Electronic Legal Research
- Advanced Legal Research
- Dispute Resolution: Formal and Informal
- Drafting Wills and Trusts
- Law Review
- Individual Study Projects
- Moot Court