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Academics

Skills Courses

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.

Skills courses include clinics, in which students learn and practice litigation skills, mediation skills, or business transaction skills, depending on the choice of clinics. Students in clinics have significant responsibility as they work with clients, and the clinic supervisors provide careful supervision.

A number of other courses teach legal skills as part of the coursework. These courses teach the skills through simulations rather than through working with clients. The types of skills taught include legal drafting (both transactional and litigation), oral argument skills, negotiation skills, and a variety of other practical skills that lawyers use. Students receive feedback on their development of the skills throughout the courses. Scholarly research and writing do not qualify as professional skills for purposes of fulfilling this requirement.

A class may be listed as meeting both the Writing Requirement and the Skills Requirement. A student taking such a class may use the course to qualify for only one of these two requirements. 

A course qualifies as meeting this 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.

An updated list of courses that satisfy this requirement will be maintained by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, will be reviewed each year and revised as necessary by the Curriculum Committee, and will be available to students prior to the start of each fall semester. Courses not on the list may qualify, with approval of the instructor and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

The course descriptions that follow differ slightly from the catalog description of the course in that they provide brief explanations of the specific skills taught. 

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.

Advanced Civil Practice Clinic. LAW 707. 2 credits. Pass/no pass only. Builds on the basic Civil Practice Clinic. Students are involved in more complex cases and projects requiring oral and written advocacy. Prerequisite: Civil Practice Clinic (LAW 707).

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.

Advanced Prosecution Clinic. LAW 707. 2 credits. Students are involved in litigation, from simple to complicated. They try at least five jury trials during a semester, prepare felony trials, respond to and argue circuit court motions, and assist felony trial lawyers with circuit court cases. Placement for students in this clinic is in the Lane County District Attorney's Office. Only third-year law students may participate. Prerequisite: satisfactory completion of the Criminal Prosecution Clinic (LAW 707).

Domestic Violence Clinic. LAW 707 (Also Advanced Domestic Violence Clinic). 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. Recommended: Domestic Violence Law (LAW 607), Family Law (LAW 655), Evidence (LAW 651), and Trial Practice Laboratory (LAW 707).

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. Limited to ten students each semester.

Advanced Environmental Law Clinic. LAW 707. 2 or 3 credits. Pass/no pass only. Students develop complex cases, research and write in greater depth about those cases, and assume more responsibility for case management and direction. Prerequisite: satisfactory completion of the Environmental Law Clinic (LAW 707).

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.

Probate Mediation Clinic. LAW 707. 3 credits. Probate Mediation Clinic applicants must have previously participated in the 32- hour basic mediation training, enough to qualify them to conduct mediations in a supervised clinical setting. At the start of this course, students will receive an additional 16 hours of specialized training in areas such as family dynamics, diminished capacity, guardianships and conservatorships, and other areas of issue, as well as a brief court training. Students will then spend Monday mornings in probate court, helping disputants search for non-litigation solutions to the problems they brought to court.

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

The Law School offers externships under five categories as follows:

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. 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. Pre-requisites: Bankruptcy, Commercial Law, and (as a pre- or co-requisite) Business Bankruptcy.

Courses

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, a midterm exam, 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.

Children and the Law. Law 640. 3 credits. Each student does two or three problems which simulate activities that a lawyer for a child, a parent or the state might do in real life. The first problem is a legislative hearing, and the other two are settlement negotiations. On the day that we do the problems in class, each student turns in a written analysis of the problem at the beginning of class. On the day after a problem is discussed in class, each student turns in a written post-mortem of the problem at the beginning of the next class. For the legislative hearing, each student will be a legislator or a witness representing a particular constituency. For the settlement negotiations, students will work with partners and negotiate against another pair of partners.

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.

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. Topics include minimizing estate and gift taxes, trusts for minors, charitable giving, disposition of a family business, incapacity, stepfamilies and non-traditional families, and valuation. Students draft wills, trusts, letters to clients, and memoranda describing estate plans.

Family Law. LAW 655. 3 credits. (Summer 2013 Professor Weiner). This course covers the topic of marriage and its legal consequences, divorce and its financial consequences; establishing the parent-child relationship; child custody and child support; legal regulation of marriage; rights of unmarried cohabitants. Students will either engage in a drafting exercise and/or a negotiation/mediation exercise. Depending upon the year, the drafting and negotiation/mediation exercises will either involve a custody agreement, a premarital agreement, a domestic violence issue, and/or a property issue.

Federal Tax II. LAW 681. 3 credits. The class will operate as a small law firm, representing simulated business clients under various circumstances, focusing on the federal income tax consequences of a choice of entity decision. Each student will participate in a group presentation addressing either corporate, partnership, or S corporation tax issues. Each student will prepare two memoranda addressing a particular client's issues relating to either a corporate, partnership, or S corporation transaction. Students will receive detailed feedback on the memoranda and presentation. The class will conclude with a take-home examination.

Hazardous Waste Law. LAW 688. 2 credits. Students draft a bench memorandum to a judge evaluating a Motion to Dismiss, prepare client letters evaluating their respective clients' interests in a real estate negotiation for the purchase/sale of contaminated property, and participate in a complex dispute resolution process for a hypothetical Superfund site, including the preparation of written settlement positions for an independent mediator and negotiating with their fellow students to arrive at a joint PRP clean-up proposal to the U.S. EPA.

Interviewing and Counseling. LAW 610. 2 credits. Pass/no pass only. 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. Students produce documents in a wide variety of practice settings, including office memoranda, contracts, statutes, and client letters. Students receive extensive feedback and opportunities to revise their work.

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.

Mergers and Acquisitions Transactional Lab. Law 610. 1 Credit. Enrollment in this course is limited to 12 students who are concurrently enrolled in Mergers and Acquisitions (Law 626). Students work with two experienced transactional attorneys to conduct portions of a simulated deal.

Negotiation. LAW 610. 3 credits. Develops negotiation skills for crafting deals and resolving disputes. Examines analytic frameworks, interpersonal styles, strategic choices, and observation skills specific to negotiation. Includes simulated negotiations and writing assignments.

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.

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. Prerequisite: Evidence (LAW 651).

Water Resources Law. LAW 669. 3 credits. Riparian and appropriation water law systems, federal and state power over water resources, transfer of water rights, ground water management, public water rights, including the public trust doctrine, and environmental constraints on water use. Students draft a water rights application and a protest under various state water codes and respond to specific client-based research questions by writing a memo directed to the client.

Women in Prison. LAW 610. 3 credits. Includes academic and hands-on components, working with women who are incarcerated in, or have recently been released from, Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF). Examines the history of prisons in the United States; the characteristics of female inmates; and the effects of women's incarceration on their families, especially their minor children.


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