The 1L Legal Practice Program is a year-long series of three courses that all students are required to take in their first year. The program is unique, and among the most ambitious in the nation, in that it provides intensive training in both “hard” and “soft” lawyering skills. Students are taught the traditional skills of legal research, analysis, objective writing, and oral and written advocacy. In addition, through simulation-based courses, they also study and develop the core communicative/interpersonal skills of interviewing, counseling and negotiation. Together, these courses provide a critical foundation for the wide range of clinics and experiential learning opportunities available to students in their second and third years, and ultimately for the practice of law. The program director is Professor Jessica Rubin. The program consists of the following courses:
During the fall semester, students focus on legal research and two essential types of legal writing: predictive (drafting office and research memoranda) and persuasive (drafting briefs and motions). Students are also taught how to conduct legal research effectively and efficiently using electronic and print resources. The course is taught in small classes, affording students the opportunity to learn in an intimate environment. Students have multiple opportunities to meet with Legal Practice faculty for individual conferences and to receive detailed, individualized feedback on their writing.
During the spring semester, the focus shifts to developing and honing students’ interviewing, counseling and advocacy skills. Students also continue to develop their writing skills, concluding the semester with an intensive project that requires them to write a brief and make oral arguments. A popular feature of the spring semester is that in each section of the course, these interpersonal and advocacy skills are taught through intensive simulations and mock arguments with supervision and feedback provided by practicing lawyers who are adjunct faculty members at the Law School. Once students learn these lawyering skills, they are well-prepared for the upper-class clinical and experiential learning opportunities available to them at the Law School.
The negotiation interterm is an intensive course in negotiation theory and practice that Day Division students take in January and Evening Division students take in June. Students learn how to analyze and plan for negotiations, advocate effectively and ethically at the bargaining table, and draft contracts to memorialize negotiated agreements. Students are taught through a combination of in-class discussions and exercises, and out-of-class simulated negotiations that are observed and critiqued by practicing lawyers who are adjunct faculty members. The opportunity to interact with, and receive feedback from, practicing lawyers is a unique and valuable feature of the course.