First Year Program

Legal Practice is an innovative, two-semester, six-credit graded course. The centerpiece of the first year curriculum, this hands-on experience requires students to play the role of lawyer immediately. Tenured and full-time faculty members teach all twelve sections in the fall, with a student-teacher ratio of 10:1. Specialized and highly trained practitioner-lecturers teach the two-credit course in the spring. Each small section also has a teaching assistant, all of whom attend a two-credit seminar on law teaching. Faculty act as supervising attorneys, hold “office meetings,” hold individual conferences, and respond in writing to all assignments. Teaching Assistants act as associates and hold meetings, individual conferences, and ongoing email conversations. Taught as a graduate-level course, Legal Practice challenges students to solve current legal problems in a law office setting, including contrasting mediation and arbitration techniques with traditional litigation methods. Specifically, this course enables students to

(1) create effective strategies for using the fundamental sources of U.S. legal research in both print and electronic form;
(2) use analytical methods and paradigms expected by U.S. legal audiences;
(3) speak effectively in practice contexts from mediations and in-house oral presentations to appellate arguments;
(4) identify and use procedural standards and standards of review;
(5) understand and practice using U.S. English for Legal Purposes;
(6) accurately use U.S. legal conventions to ensure credibility with a range of legal audiences; and
(7) develop personal techniques for an effective and efficient research and writing process.

Students research state and federal law, including legislative history and administrative law. They write a range of papers, which may include opinion emails, memos, motion briefs, research reports and outlines, and appellate briefs. Students must also pass a Research, Citation, and English for Legal Purposes exam. Students may also request workshops on any topics, in addition to attending individual sessions throughout the semester at the WSRSL Writing Center.