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Academics

Skills Courses

Skills Courses, 2015 – 2016

Skills Requirement

During the second or third year of law school, each student must satisfactorily complete at least one course with a substantial professional skills component to qualify for graduation

Professional skills include a broad range of skills that can be taught in courses specifically geared to skills development, including but not limited to trial and appellate advocacy, ADR, counseling, interviewing, negotiating, and drafting.  Professional skills may also be taught in doctrinal courses where the faculty members has developed skills based work related to the substantive content of the course.  Academic research and writing do not qualify as professional skills for purposes of fulfilling this requirement.

A course has a substantial skills component if 50 percent or more of the grade in the course is awarded for skills assignments.  The instructor must provide feedback on skills assignments, but multiple drafts of the same assignment are not required, so long as the feedback will assist the student in improving on future assignments in the course.  Skills assignments need not be limited to developing skills that require a professional license to practice, provided that lawyers frequently practice such skills. 

The Law School Curriculum Committee reviews and approves the Skills designation.

Courses may meet either the Writing Requirement or the Skills Requirement, if the course meets either of the individual requirements for each. If a course allows students to complete either the Writing Requirement or the Skills Requirement, the course syllabus must specify the criteria for meeting either.

A student cannot use the same course to satisfy both the Writing Requirement and the Skills Requirement.

A course qualifies as meeting this Skills Requirement if the class provides:

(a) Significant instruction in professional skills;

(b) Opportunity to practice those skills; and

(c) Assessment of the development of those skills.

The following clinics, externships, and courses have been designated as meeting the Law School Skills Requirement for 2015 – 2016:

Clinics

Business Law Clinic. LAW 712. 3 credits. Replicates the environment of a small law firm. Students represent small companies and entrepreneurs who need legal assistance in forming and operating their businesses. Each student assists several clients during the course of the semester under the supervision of an attorney. Includes a weekly seminar offering instruction in substantive law, ethical issues, and practical lawyering, with an emphasis on the skills required in drafting documents, interviewing and counseling clients, and representing clients in organizational and contractual matters.

Civil Practice Clinic. LAW 707. 3 credits. Each semester, no more than twelve third- year law students under the supervision of an attorney provide assistance to low-income people eligible for legal services from the Lane County Legal Aid Office. Students perform the necessary interviewing, investigation, research, case strategy development, drafting, and trial preparation work for their clients. Clinic members occasionally handle court or administrative hearings.

Criminal Defense Clinic. LW 707. 3 credits. The semester-long or yearlong format of this clinic ensures that each participant represents approximately ten clients and presents the defense in at least one jury trial. Participants also conduct client and witness interviews, investigations, pretrial motions, suppression hearings, plea negotiations, and sentencing hearings for the defense.

Criminal Prosecution Clinic. LAW 707. 3 credits. Students are assigned to one of several local prosecutors' offices, where they prepare and try minor criminal cases under the supervision of an attorney. Students may assist senior prosecutors on felony cases. The classroom component consists of weekly two- to three-hour discussions of the roles of participants in the criminal justice system through the various stages of the criminal process.

Domestic Violence Civil Clinic. Participants in this clinic will represent victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking in civil legal actions. In the course of providing this representation, students will be involved at every stage of litigation, including interviewing clients and witnesses, obtaining evidence, negotiating with opposing counsel, drafting legal documents, and appearing in court.

Domestic Violence Protective Order Clinic. LAW 707 3 credits. Participants represent victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault in obtaining restraining orders and related relief. Students perform the necessary interviewing, investigation, research, case strategy development, drafting, and trial preparation for their clients. Students participate in contested hearings.

Environmental Law Clinic. LAW 707. 3 credits. Pass/no pass only. Students learn to handle clients, find and prepare expert witnesses, pursue discovery and Freedom of Information requests to obtain evidence, develop innovative legal theories with clinic attorneys or with private co-counsel in cases, represent clients orally in administrative or court hearings when appropriate, submit motions to courts, and prepare winning (not merely adequate) legal briefs and memoranda.

Small Claims Mediation Clinic. LAW 707. 3 credits. Pass/no pass only. Intensive, skills-oriented course that trains law students to mediate a range of cases. Skills training offers opportunities to practice communication skills and the mediation model in role-playing activities. Enhances interviewing, problem solving and analysis, and negotiation skills. Participants discuss and practice techniques for balancing power, preserving impartiality, and maintaining ethical standards. After training is completed, students mediate small- claims cases from the Lane County District Court under the supervision of the clinic director or adjunct.

Nonprofit Clinic. LAW 707. 3 credits. The clinic is a joint venture with the UO’s Department of Planning, Public Policy & Management and the Master’s Degree Program in Conflict and Dispute Resolution, where students learn about nonprofit work with the assistance of experienced practitioners in the field, and through hands-on experience working with non-profit clients. Through the program, students will learn how to negotiate the legal landscape of nonprofit organizations, which will allow them to help these facilitators of community improvement in the most constructive way.

Externships

Environmental Law Externships. LAW 714. 3 credits. Externs are placed with governmental and non-profit agencies working on a variety of issues related to environmental regulations and compliance, energy policy, land use and climate change. Includes the Goal One Externships.

Judicial Externships. LAW 714. 3 to 12 credits. Externs are placed with state and federal judges at the trial and appellate level. Students conduct research, write legal memoranda, draft opinions and generally participate in the daily operation of the court. Includes the following placements: Lane County Circuit Court: Oregon Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, or Appellate Legal Counsel; Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA); United States Bankruptcy Court; United States Federal Court; United States Immigration Court; and others (e.g. Washington State Court of Appeals.) See Career Services for more information and application process.

Portland In-House Counsel Externships. LAW 714. 3 to 12 credits. Externs are placed with in-house counsel at major Oregon businesses in the Portland metropolitan area. Students conduct a variety of legal work in the context of in-house counsel representation.

General Externships. LAW 714. 3 to 12 credits. Externs are placed with non-profit organizations and governmental agencies in a variety of settings to gain practical experience. General Externships include: Domestic Violence Externships, Child Advocacy Externships, and externships in fields of immigration, local government law and other fields of law.

Bankruptcy Externships. LAW 714. 3 credits. Bankruptcy Judicial Externship. Externs placed with United States Bankruptcy Court judges research and write memoranda and judicial opinions, attend hearings and chambers conferences, and generally participate in the daily operations of the court. Pre-requisites: Bankruptcy, Commercial Law, and (as a pre- or co-requisite) Secured Land and Business Bankruptcy.

United States Trustee Externship. LAW 714. Externs placed with The Office of the United States Trustee — the division of the U.S. Department of Justice that oversees the administration of all bankruptcy cases — participate in the bankruptcy litigation process from research and drafting of memoranda and pleadings, through depositions and other discovery tools, to motion hearings and trial.

Courses

Administrative Law. Law 644. 3 credits. Participants complete five assignments focused on the role of the agency lawyer.  Instructor provides specific feedback on each of these assignments.  Each assignment involves drafting concise summaries of particular issues or cases and also asks the students to evaluate in particular the way in which they would provide legal advice in an agency counsel context.  The assignments begin with one page briefing statements that summarize the structure and function of the agency they have selected.  The second and third assignments directly address providing legal advice in a rulemaking context including identification of active rulemaking efforts for their selected agency and developing written advice to the agency about how to proceed with the rulemaking effort.  The fourth and fifth assignment involves finding and assessing the litigation risk associated with active agency adjudication for the selected agency.  For these last two assignments, students draft litigation risk memos to clients in light of the issues that are being raised either in the informal or formal adjudication process.

ADR Strategies in Litigation.  Law 610. 2 credits. This course covers a number of practical skills, including budgeting, case planning, case valuation, explaining ADR processes to clients, interviewing clients on difficult topics, identifying potential avenues for value creation, creating settlement offers, drafting Offers of Judgment, representing clients in a negotiation, mediation or settlement conference.  The grade is based in part on participation, which includes satisfactory completion of ungraded assignments relating to the skills above.  The remainder of the grade is based on an assignment that requires them to apply the skills they have learned over the course of the semester, including a case budget, a settlement strategy, an estimate of the likely value of the case, and a written communication to a client or opposing counsel with a settlement proposal.

Advanced Legal Research. Law 610. 2 credits. This class takes place in a workshop setting, with students immediately using the skills they learn. A variety of sources are covered, including those available on Westlaw and Lexis, on free and inexpensive websites, and in print, and student compare the effectiveness of each. Students learn to conduct legislative history and administrative law research; other topics are decided by a class survey. The grade is based on participation, research assignments and an independent research project that students present to the class and explain in a short paper.

Arbitration. LAW 610. 2 credits. Introduces the law and practices of labor, employment, and commercial arbitration. Reading and discussion focus on federal and state statutes favoring arbitration, judicial review of arbitration awards, selection of arbitrators, and presentation of arbitration cases. Class project simulates advocacy in arbitration proceedings with an emphasis on effective representative techniques, highlighting differences between arbitration and traditional litigation. Students are graded on papers and participation.

Business Association (BA) Transactional Lab. Law 610. 1 credit. Business Associations Transactional Lab (the “Lab”) complements the traditional course in Business Associations (“BA”). Under the auspices of two experienced Portland business attorneys, Lab students will be led through a series of simulations, requiring students to understand, analyze, draft and revise the provisions of various documents used to form, capitalize and govern LLCs and corporations. Lab simulations will provide invaluable opportunities for students to apply the statutes, doctrines and principles covered in BA in concrete, real-world contexts and to receive feedback, advice and insight from sophisticated business lawyers.

Business Planning. Law 633. 2 credits. During the course of the semester, participants will work on real-life simulated cases from the textbook, interview a real-life client, and develop a Business Plan.  In addition, participants are required to complete three drafting assignments: 1) Articles of Incorporation with S and B Corporations, 2) Operations agreements, and 3) Employment Contract revision.  Lastly, participants present to the class a real hypothetical with finished drafted documents.

Contract Drafting. Law 610. 2 credits. This course teaches the principles of contemporary, negotiated contract drafting and introduces students to documents typically used in a variety of transactions. The skills gained will be applicable to any transactional practice and will even be useful to litigators. On finishing the course, students will know: the business purpose of each of the contract concepts; how to translate the business deal into contract concepts; how to draft each of a contract's parts; how to draft with clarity and without ambiguity; how to add value to a deal; how to work through the drafting process; and how to review and comment on a contract.

Elder Law. Law 656. 3 credits. Each participant works on two problems, one as a lawyer – advocate and one as a decider. For the lawyer – advocate role participants must draft the appropriate written document (brief, trial memo, testimony, etc.) and then engage in mock oral presentation.  Participants in decider role must prepare for hearing, run a hearing, and then draft a decision.

Estate Planning. LAW 683. 3 credits. This course presents problems in estate analysis, planning, and execution; planning an estate from the interview stage to the drafting of wills and trusts to implement the estate plan. Participants draft provisions for wills, discuss estate plans for clients based on hypothetical cases, draft an estate plan for a client, draft a will with a memo to the supervising lawyer explaining the recommended plan and a revocable trust and pourover will with a cover letter for the client explaining the documents.

Federal Income Tax II.  Law 681  3 credits. Students prepare two memos to a senior partner.  The Instructor provides detailed feedback on each memo.  Students also do a group presentation on one of the memos.  Students learn how to analyze complex tax in a brief writing assignment and gain experience in reacting to questions in a controlled, professional setting.

Forensic Science in Criminal Law. Law 610. 3 credits. Students in this class are required to complete a co-facilitation requirement and drafting requirement. The co-facilitation component requires students to work collaboratively to plan and execute one class session.  Students receive feedback and a grade from the professor.  Feedback evaluates these primary points: the clarity and thoroughness of the presentation; its organization and logic; any independent research that informed it and its technical details. Students also have two drafting assignments: a statute for the Oregon legislature implementing procedures and practices to improve the reliability of eyewitness-identification evidence in court and a motion to exclude expert fingerprint-comparison testimony.

Interviewing and Counseling. LAW 610. 2 credits. This course teaches critical lawyering skills through reading, lectures, discussions, participatory exercises, and role-playing, and it introduces the concept of the “reflective practice” of law. Role-plays simulate common challenges in law practice that require judgment, skill, and sensitivity by the practitioner. Students learn how to develop effective attorney-client relationships, identify client interests and priorities, recognize different approaches to fact analysis, prepare for counseling sessions with a client, analyze consequences, and weigh alternatives. Emphasis on class participation.

Intensive Writing. LAW 607. 3 credits. (Summer 2015). Students read about, discuss, practice producing, receive detailed feedback on, and revise a series of legal documents (e.g., a memorandum, a demand letter, a statute or regulation, and a contract). Instruction and assignments will introduce and / or reinforce students’ understanding of current norms in the legal profession. All documents will be assessed for compliance with applicable professional standards and expectations (e/g, regarding precision, clarity, organization, brevity and persuasion).

Mediation. LAW 607. 3 credits. Examines mediation practice and the policy implications of the development of mediation as a means of dispute resolution, with a particular focus on attorneys' roles. Includes a full day of mediation skills training. Required paper.

Negotiation. LAW 610. 3 credits. This course consists of negotiation simulations, where students discuss and review their performance with each other and the instructor.  The simulations occur within the context of readings and lectures on basic negotiation skills and concept, and how to incorporate those concepts and skills into practice.  Students also spend 1-2 class meetings drafting a contract as a result of their negotiation and discussing basic principles of drafting.  Grading is based in part on participation, and on assignment(s) that requires them to reflect on and evaluate their performance. 

Nonprofit Organizations. LAW 610. 3 credits. Covers the corporate governance and tax issues that affect nonprofit organizations. Topics include organization, state regulation, obtaining tax-exempt status, restrictions of lobbying and political activity, private foundations, tax on unrelated business income of tax-exempt organizations, and charitable deduction rules. Students draft articles of incorporation, bylaws, an application for recognition of exempt status, and a memo in response to a client question. Students also draft cover letters to clients, explaining the legal work.

Politics and Advocacy in the Supreme Court. Law 610. 2 credits. Each student must prepare for and engage in a substantial (30-minute) oral appellate argument. While preparing for the argument, each student must engage in at least one mooting session with others students. Each also must serve as a “mooting partner” in order to assist others who are preparing. Oral arguments are evaluated in writing by other students; each student also is evaluated during an in-person post-argument conference with the instructor. Thirty percent of each student’s grade is based on the quality of the oral argument; another thirty percent is based on the student’s participation as a mooting partner and peer evaluator.

Real Estate Planning. Law 631. 3 credits. Students prepare one client memo and two memos to a senior partner and the instructor provides detailed feedback on each memo.  Students also do a group presentation on one of the memos.  Students learn how to analyze complex tax and real estate issues in a brief writing assignment and gain experience in reacting to questions in a controlled, professional setting.

Tax Planning and Drafting.  Law 610. 3 credits.  In this course, students must prepare three drafting assignments, worth 60% of their grade, and two planning memos for “live clients,” worth 20% of their grade. The first document the students prepare is a prenuptial agreement.  This assignment is based on a complex hypothetical in a leading estate planning textbook.  The second drafting assignment, an LLC agreement, is based on a detailed problem involving a capital interest and a service partner.  The third assignment is a power of attorney.

Trial Practice. LAW 707. 3 credits. Examines and develops courtroom skills for civil and criminal cases. Covers opening statement, direct examination, cross- examination, objections, closing argument, and voir dire of juries. Each student conducts weekly examinations in class and a full trial at the end of the semester.

Water Resources Law. LAW 669. 3 credits. Students have two opportunities to practice skills development. The first assignment involves drafting a client letter providing specific advice on a water law hypothetical.  The professor provides feedback on the client letter and students do peer editing as well.  The second skills opportunity involves preparing written testimony or public comment on proposed legislation or changes to administrative rules.  Again students get direct feedback from the professor and from peer editing processes.  In addition, the professor provides opportunities for students to present their testimony or comments as a way of developing oral presentation skills as well. 


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