The First-Year Skills Program at UConn Law consists of three distinct components.The Lawyering Process Program is a required two-semester, 5 credit program. It is a unique program that is among the most ambitious in the nation because it teaches students interviewing, counseling and negotiating skills, in addition to legal research and writing. By teaching practical and interpersonal lawyering skills as an integral part of the law school’s first year curriculum, the Lawyering Process Program helps to prepare students for law practice, and for the wide range of clinics and experiential learning opportunities available to students in their second and third years. The inter-term Moot Court Program is an intensive preparation where students learn how to write legal arguments and practice making oral arguments in simulated appellate level cases.
During the first semester, the Lawyering Process Program focuses on legal research and two essential types of legal writing: predictive writing (how to prepare clear and concise office and research memoranda), and persuasive writing (how to write briefs and motions). Students are also taught how to conduct legal research effectively using electronic and print resources. The Lawyering Process course is taught in small classes, affording students the opportunity to learn in an intimate environment. Students have multiple opportunities to meet with Lawyering Process faculty for individual conferences.
During the second semester, the program's focus shifts to developing and honing a student’s interviewing, counseling and negotiating skills, often through intensive simulations involving adjunct faculty, who provide individualized feedback to students. A unique feature of the second semester is that, in each section of the Lawyering Process course, these interpersonal skills are taught in different practice contexts, to take maximum advantage of the experiences and strengths of the Lawyering Process faculty, all of whom have considerable experience as practitioners. For example, one professor teaches interviewing, counseling and negotiating skills with a focus on public interest lawyering, another professor teaches these skills (as well as contract drafting) in the context of business transactional lawyering, a third professor emphasizes the ethics and strategies of negotiating, and a fourth teaches the skills with an emphasis on ethics and counseling. Once students learn these practical lawyering skills, they are well prepared for the upper-class clinical and experiential learning opportunities available to them at the Law School.
All first-year students take Moot Court. Between the first and second semesters of the first year, during January, first year day students take Moot Court. At the end of the second semester, during June, first year evening students take Moot Court. Moot Court is an intensive program in oral and written argument. Students learn how to write legal arguments and then practice making oral arguments in simulated appellate level cases, with supervision and feedback provided by practicing lawyers who are adjunct faculty members at the Law School.