Lawyering Skills Program
The Lawyering Skills Program teaches students many practical skills, including legal reasoning, legal research, oral advocacy, drafting, and counseling. Further, all courses in the Lawyering Skills curriculum are taught in small sections so that faculty can work with students individually. Individual student conferences are an integral part of each Lawyering Skills course.
Lawyering Skills I: Objective Analysis, Writing & Research (JD 054, 3 Credits) focuses on the structure of the legal system; sources of law; reading, analyzing, and briefing cases; and writing legal memoranda analyzing clients' claims and defenses. Students also get extensive training in legal research. The students have a conference with their professors after each paper is graded.
The second semester course, Lawyering Skills II: Advocacy (JD 056, 3 Credits), focuses on persuasive writing and also continues to develop research skills. During this course, students learn advanced forms of research including legislative histories, looseleaf services, court rules, administrative rules and regulations, and advanced online legal research. The writing assignments include both trial and appellate briefs. Students present oral arguments on at least two of these assignments. As in Lawyering Skills I, students meet with their professors individually after each paper is graded.
In the third course, the Lawyering Skills III: Appellate Advocacy (JD 159, 1 Credit), students refine their advocacy skills in the context of a school-wide moot court competition. Students prepare a brief and present two oral arguments in a hypothetical appellate case. Students are graded both on the brief and the oral argument by outside judges as well as their Lawyering Skills professors. Awards are presented for first place, second place, best brief, and best oralist. This course meets for two hours each week.
In their final Lawyering Skills course, Lawyering Skills IV: Drafting, students may choose either a general or a specialized drafting course. The assignments are rigorous and comparable to the types of projects lawyers will encounter in practice. The general drafting course focuses on advising clients and creating wills, contracts, and other documents that the general practitioner works with on a daily basis. The specialized drafting courses include civil litigation, real estate transactions, intellectual property, information technology, international business law, family law, business planning, and others.
To further support students in the Lawyering Skills Program, John Marshall staffs an on-site Writing Resource Center where students can get additional help with their assignments, brush up on basic writing principles, and learn new writing strategies.