Legal Analysis and Communication Program Overview
The Legal Analysis and Communication Program encompasses the traditional first year writing courses as well as upper level classes within the program. All the courses within the program focus on the analysis and communication skills needed to produce effective documents in the real world practice of law. They teach an approach to thinking that students can put to use in their substantive classes and when called upon to do scholarly writing.
The First Year
The required program includes two 3 credit classes, one each semester of the first year. Both focus on practice related documents and both courses take a problem solving approach to legal analysis and communication. Based on the premise that writing is thinking made visible, these classes focus first and foremost on legal reasoning, assuming that the student is proficient in basic writing skills. Those skills are refined in the context of presenting clear legal thinking in a variety of legal documents including: legal memoranda, client communications, drafting, ADR documents and trial and appellate briefs. The first semester focuses primarily on predictive communication while the second semester focuses on persuasive communication and includes two oral arguments.
The goal of the first year courses is to give students a working knowledge of the tools needed to be effective legal problem solvers and communicators. At the end of the first year courses the students will have a basic understanding of the skills necessary to success in a summer clerkship or other similar summer work experience. Students will be independent and self critical legal writers with an understanding of the writing process and how they can use the tools they have been taught along with their own voice to create effective practice related documents.
Beyond the First Year
Following the required courses, students may elect to take upper level courses in Legal Analysis and Communication. Current upper level courses include: Legal Analysis and Communication – Drafting Legal Documents and Legal Analysis and Communication – The Opinion and the Brief. Additional upper level courses are currently in development. Students may also take advanced legal research courses taught by law library personnel.
Other upper level opportunities that allow students to use their analysis and communication skills include scholarly writing and moot courts. The upper level writing requirement results in all students completing one scholarly piece of writing. Additionally, students may participate in additional writing seminars, law reviews or journals, and may write in conjunction with independent studies. The law school also supports a number of moot court teams, all of which are very competitive nationally.