Director of the Legal Analysis & Communication Program
Dean's Awards for Faculty Excellence
A.B. 1991, University of Chicago
J.D. 1994, Harvard Law School
Member of the New Mexico Bar
Steven Homer is the Interim Director of the Legal Analysis and Communication program. He also coaches the law school’s National Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Law moot court team. He came to the UNM law faculty in 2004 from the New Mexico Human Services Department, where he was a special assistant attorney general for the Child Support Enforcement Division. Prior to that, he was in private practice, focusing on family law and general civil litigation. Homer is a former board member of the New Mexico Lesbian and Gay Bar Association. At Harvard Law School, he served as the lead executive editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.
Homer was awarded the UNM School of Law’s Dean's Award for Faculty Excellence in 2012-2013, the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Law School Service in 2011-2012, the Friedman Faculty Award for 2008-09 for excellence in teaching and the university's 2005-2006 Outstanding Adjunct Teacher/Lecturer of the Year Award. Homer is one of 26 American law teachers profiled in What the Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press 2013), a study of some of the nation’s top law teachers.
This course focuses on the basic skills associated with drafting legal documents, by studying and writing documents in the context of domestic relations litigation (dissolution of marriage, primarily). Students will draft documents that create the relationship with the client, such as scope of representation letters and fee agreements as a way to explore some of the ethical and professional responsibilities that arise between attorneys and clients. Students will also draft pleadings related to divorce litigation as a way to explore the relationships between the governing law and the procedural mechanisms by which the client’s cause of action is actually presented to the court. Finally, students will draft agreements that are intended to resolve or avoid litigation, as a way to consider contract-related considerations. Students will be expected to edit each other’s work, to develop the skill of assessing the sufficiency and strengths of their own and other attorneys’ work. Family Law is a co- or pre-requisite.
Prerequisite: C or better in LRRW.
The second semester Advocacy course continues the study and practice of legal writing that was begun in LRRW. Students learn to translate the skills they used in LRRW and in writing predictive documents into a basis for creating effective persuasive documents. Focus is on argumentation and rhetoric as the means to building strong and persuasive documents. In the context of writing documents that advocate a particular result for a specific client, students continue to practice the process of legal writing as they research, analyze, organize, write and revise litigation related documents. The primary context for the work done in Advocacy involves writing briefs to a specific court. In addition to writing complete briefs, students will complete several smaller assignments focusing on specific skills related to persuasive writing. Advocacy students will also be introduced to the role of ADR in client representation and will begin to learn about court and ethical rules related to brief writing. They will also have the opportunity to evaluate arguments written by others.
How a legal system responds to the creation, dissolution and regulation of the family says a great deal about cultural difference. Increasingly, international frameworks are being developed to help address issues of child abduction, child support and adoption. This course will examine how international accords affect traditional family law issues. It will also compare how some countries address family law issues, such as marriage, divorce, custody, adoption, abortion, surrogacy and child welfare. Special emphasis will be given to U.S./Mexico cross-border family law issues.
Pre-requisite: Completion of first year curriculum, Pre-or-co-requisite: Ethics
Summer 2013--Prof. Steven Homer
Fall 2013--Prof. April Land
Spring 2014--Prof. Aliza Organick
The Law Practice Clinic will emphasize the development of professional skills and values by assigning students to represent clients in a variety of both civil and criminal cases. In their casework, students will be individually and closely supervised in their representation of low-income clients. Each student will be assigned a mix of cases typical of a general law practice in New Mexico with some opportunity for a more specialized type of practice taking into account each student's preferences and career plans, available faculty resources and client and community needs. Among other practice areas, case matters may involve juvenile delinquency defense, family law, criminal misdemeanor defense, landlord/tenant, contract disputes, wills and immigration. The Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 semesters will provide more focus in the area of juvenile delinquency and criminal defense. The emphasis on student casework is to give law students direct experience with live clients and real cases and to provide close individual and collaborative faculty supervision. In addition to providing real world experience, students are encouraged to develop and explore the professional dimensions of client-oriented problem solving. Students are expected to develop and assume full professional responsibility for competent, professional and ethical decision-making in helping their clients solve their legal problems.
The classroom component seeks to help prepare students to represent his or her clients competently, to promote professionalism in dealing with clients, lawyers, staff and others; and to provide experience in individual and collaborative problem solving. Classroom sessions include discussion of pending clinic cases and assigned readings; role-play and simulation; and collaborative planning and evaluation. The classroom component typically addresses such skills and topics as: client interviewing and counseling, case evaluation, legal research, fact investigation, drafting documents and correspondence, motion practice, discovery, negotiation, alternative dispute resolution, procedure, case management, law office management, the use of computer technology in the law office, and professional responsibility and ethics.
Students will be required (1) to attend and actively participate in up to five classroom sessions (ten during summer’s first three weeks) during each week of the academic semester and (2) to maintain, in addition to classroom hours, a schedule of 24 (2-hours block) fixed office hours (physically present in the clinic, working on clinic matters) each week during Summer, or 16 (2-hours block) fixed office hours each week during Fall and Spring semesters.
Students having any questions about this clinic are encouraged to visit with Profs. Homer, Land, or Organick.
LRRW is the foundational legal analysis and communication course. In LRRW students learn how to use legal reasoning to predict the outcome of a legal problem. The focus is on the substance and reasoning that are key to effective legal communication. The course takes a problem solving approach to legal writing. Students learn to identify legal issues presented by specific cases. They are given an overview of collecting relevant information, including an introduction to legal research. Students learn how to connect this information as they analyze a legal problem in preparation for writing an advisory memo. Students learn how to determine relevant legal rules and apply those rules to specific facts to arrive at a reasonable conclusion in a specific case. Students practice organizing the information and their analysis into a logical and coherent structured proof of their conclusion and then effectively presenting the proof in a specific written format to a specific audience. Students also learn to perfect the mechanics of their documents as they learn techniques for effective revising and editing. Students learn that each step of the process is a foundation for the next step and therefore must be competently completed. Assignments include several short in class and out of class information gathering, pre-writing and writing exercises as well as completion of a complete memorandum of law. In addition, students are introduced to client communications and legal drafting.
The Sexual Orientation Law Moot Court Competition is the only national competition dedicated exclusively to the area of sexual orientation law. This year’s competition will provide an opportunity for competitors to write an appellate-level brief on a current topic in sexual orientation law and to argue the case before a panel of judges. The competition is designed to promote and recognize the finest oral and written advocacy on a significant problem in sexual orientation law.
Professor Steven Homer
Students who are eligible
2L and 3L students only
Dates and timeline overview
Application packets will come out in late November.
During Winter Break teams will draft a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court (NO faculty or coach input is allowed until the brief is turned in).
The brief is due in mid-January. Oral argument practice and coaching will take place four to five nights a week throughout January, until the competition at the end of the month at the UCLA School of Law.
Try out details: Students will be asked to write a short legal argument based on last year’s problem, as well as a short personal statement explaining their interest in the competition. Students will also be asked to provide their ELA II grade and any other moot court experience/commitments. Students who are interested should email Professor Homer by the third week of October. Selection will begin immediately thereafter.
What to expect
Competitors should expect to dedicate significant time during Winter Break to meet with their teammates and prepare a brief. Self-starters who can complete the research and analysis before classes start in January are especially encouraged to participate.
Teams will meet several evenings a week during January to practice their oral arguments; the time commitment is equivalent to attending an additional class. Participants should be prepared to keep their evening schedules free of conflicts during January.
Because the competition is part of the Williams Institute’s judicial education program, teams will have the opportunity to practice their arguments in front of several members of the bench.
Note that the final round of this competition will take place a month after the preliminary rounds, and funding to attend the final round is not guaranteed.
Sexual Orientation and the Law: A Research Bibliography (Contributing Editor). Available at: http://www.lgbtbib.org/editors.php.
Honesty, Privacy and Shame: When Gay People Talk About Other Gay People to Nongay People (with David L. Chambers), 4 Michigan Journal of Gender & Law 255 (1997).
Against Marriage, 29 Harvard Civil Rights, Civil Liberties Law Review 505 (1994).
The Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies, M.V. Lee Badgett, R. Bradley Sears, Steven K. Homer, Patrice Curtis & Elizabeth Kukura, The Impact on New Mexico’s Budget of Allowing Same-Sex Couples to Marry (Williams Institute/UCLA School of Law, 2006), available at http://www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute/publications/ new%20mexico%20econ%20study.pdf.