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Academic Goals

The School of Law's faculty has adopted the following Goals, Student Learning Outcomes and Performance Criteria for the course of study leading to the Juris Doctor degree.

Goals are the broad, general goals of the academic program. They are divided into four categories:

  1. Knowledge,
  2. Skills,
  3. Implementation, and
  4. Values.

Student Learning Outcomes refer to the outcomes we expect students to be able to demonstrate once they have completed a course of study.

Performance Criteria are the measures by which we will assess whether students have mastered the Student Learning Outcomes.

Goal 1:  Knowledge.

Graduating students will possess a solid foundation of legal knowledge and understanding of the law in core subject areas, including those tested most frequently on the bar exam. Graduates will also possess habits of reflection and self-efficacy necessary to teach themselves new areas of law and keep abreast of legal developments.

Student Learning Outcomes and Performance Criteria:

  1. Students will develop a broad and systemic understanding of substantive areas of the law.
    1. Students will be able to demonstrate understanding of core concepts of legal doctrine, including the subjects tested most frequently on the bar exam.
    2. Students will identify and interpret controlling legal rules in those subject areas.
    3. Students will apply controlling legal rules in those subject areas.
    4. Students will analyze controlling legal rules in those subject areas.
  2. Students will develop the ability to read and analyze cases, statutes, and other written materials.
    1. Students will be able to break down the component parts of cases – including facts, issue, rule, holding and analysis.
    2. Students will be able to identify majority, concurring and dissenting opinions.
    3. Students will be able to identify types of analysis and argument in cases.
    4. Students will be able to read and understand statutes.
    5. Students will be able to apply techniques of statutory interpretation.
    6. Students will be able to identify, read, and create documents, including client letters, motions, briefs, and legal memoranda used in the legal profession.
  3. Students will be able to comprehend and use legal terminology and language.
    1. Students will be able to identify, comprehend, and apply core legal concepts.
  4. Students will understand the law and legal institutions in their historical, cultural and social context.
    1. Students will be able to identify sources of the law.
    2. Students will be able to describe existing legal institutions.
    3. Students will be able to recognize the impact of historical circumstances to changes in the law.
    4. Students will be able to recognize the social context of changes in the law.
    5. Students will be able to recognize different legal theories and associate them with developments in the law.
    6. Students will be able to analyze legal theories in the context of cases and statutes.
    7. Students will be able to apply legal theories to problems in the law.
  5. Students will understand legal education as a continuing process of learning and professional growth.
    1. Students will recognize the process of legal education as a continuing process.
    2. Students will generate self-directed goals for further study.

Goal 2: Skills.

Graduating students will be proficient in the core competencies needed to practice law: oral and written communication, legal research, legal analysis, problem-solving, professional responsibility, and practice management.

Student Learning Outcomes and Performance Criteria:

  1. ORAL COMMUNICATION – Students will develop the ability to assess, control, and vary verbal and non-verbal communications with a particular audience in a given situation in order to maximize the accomplishment of objectives.
    1. Use the mechanics of language.
    2. Express a thought with preciseness, clarity, and economy.
    3. Express thoughts in an organized manner.
    4. Speak appropriately to a given audience.
    5. Identify and use appropriate non-verbal aspects of communication.
    6. Perceive others' communications and actions.
    7. Communicate so as to advance immediate and long-term objectives.
  2. WRITTEN COMMUNICATION – Students will develop the ability to control and vary written communications with a particular audience in a given situation in order to maximize the accomplishment of objectives.
    1. Use the mechanics of the language.
    2. Express a thought with preciseness, clarity, and economy.
    3. Express thoughts in an organized manner.
    4. Write appropriately to a given audience.
    5. Perceive the communications of others.
    6. Write so as to advance immediate and long-term objectives.
  3. LEGAL ANALYSIS – Students will develop the ability to combine law and facts in a given situation in order to generate, justify, and assess the relative merits of alternative legal positions.
    1. Identify relevant facts.
    2. Identify inconsistencies among facts.
    3. Identify the reliability of asserted facts.
    4. Distinguish facts from conclusions of law.
    5. Determine rules of law relevant to framing legal issues.
    6. Formulate legal rules appropriately or correctly.
    7. Determine trends in interpretation or application of laws.
    8. Identify discrete legal issues.
    9. Group and categorize facts in terms of the concepts or language of the law.
    10. Select aspects of the facts which appear to call for the application or non-application of a legal rule or concept.
    11. Select aspects of a legal rule or concept which appear to call for its application or non-application to the facts.
    12. Show why some application of a legal rule or concept calls for an extension, limitation, or rejection of another rule or concept.
    13. Separate, combine, and sequence arguments to formulate a legal theory.
    14. Sequence a complete range of legal theories in accordance with some systematic ordering principle.
    15. Identify the predisposition of a particular decision-maker or class of decision-makers.
    16. Identify compelling equities recognized by the law or inherent in the fact situation.
    17. Determine relative effectiveness of a legal theory or of alternative legal theories by analysis and evaluation of o and p (above).
  4. PROBLEM-SOLVING – Students will develop the ability to use legal analysis and other information to identify and diagnose problems in terms of clients’ objectives and to generate strategies and tactics to achieve those objectives.
    1. Identify client's objectives and priorities.
    2. Identify obstacles and facilitating factors that bear on the realization of client objectives and priorities.
    3. State alternative definitions of the client's problem(s).
    4. Identify and develop information and steps needed to clarify alternative definitions of the problem(s).
    5. Make a tentative choice among alternative definitions of the problem(s).
    6. Develop alternative solutions and strategies which include consideration of types of strategy, risk, benefits, legal and social consequences, client control, forums, economics, and ethics.
    7. Assess and order the range of alternative solutions and strategies with respect to client's objectives and priorities; probability of success; consequences of success, partial success, or failure; available resources; and ethics.
    8. Formulate a work plan that identifies who will do what, with whom, where, when, and with what expected results and costs.
    9. Take the actions (or assure that assigned others do) to carry out the formulated work plan.
    10. Check results at anticipated points and unanticipated times, and adjust as necessary.
  5. PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY – Students will develop the ability to recognize the ethical considerations in a situation, analyze and evaluate their implications for present and future actions, and behave in a manner that facilitates timely assertion of rights.
    1. Identify situational conflicts with the Code of Professional Responsibility, or with commonly recognized institutional and professional norms and standards of conduct that flow from one's role in rendering services to clients.
    2. Identify situational conflicts with other ethical, ideological, or personal considerations bearing on a case or the lawyer/client relationship.
    3. Identify and weigh alternative courses of action in light of actual or potential situational conflicts in a and b above.
    4. Act consistently with decisions and commitments resulting from the analysis of actual or potential conflicts.
  6. PRACTICE MANAGEMENT – Students will develop the ability to manage time, effort, available resources, and competing priorities in a manner that generates the maximum output of quality legal services.
    1. Allocate time, effort, and other resources necessary to carry our case load tasks.
    2. Coordinate efforts of others.
    3. Work according to applicable systems, rules, and procedures governing the handling of cases and files.
    4. Assess system operations and design improvements in the system, rules, and procedures governing the handling of cases and files.
    5. Maintain a level of productivity that conforms with applicable standards and normative expectations.
    6. Judge the point at which further commitments cannot realistically be discharged competently.
    7. Supervise others.
  7. LEGAL RESEARCH – Students will develop the ability to utilize fundamental research skills; implement effective, efficient research strategies; critically evaluate legal and non-legal information and information sources; apply information effectively to resolve a specific issue or need; and will have an understanding of the ethics of information.
    1. Students will demonstrate knowledge of the hierarchical relationships of the U.S. double tripartite system of government and the legislation, regulations, and case law they yield.
    2. Students will be able to develop and implement efficient research strategies.
    3. Students will know how to evaluate the validity and credibility of legal and non-legal information sources.
    4. Students will know how to analyze and synthesize positive law from a variety of sources.
    5. Students will be able to apply information effectively to resolve a specific issue or need.
    6. Students will know how to formulate creative solutions when there is no law on point.
    7. Students will understand the ethical and legal implications of legal research.

Goal 3: Implementation.

Graduating students will learn how to implement their knowledge, skills and values in a variety of professional settings through which they will learn to exercise the professionalism, competence, and judgment needed for effective lawyering.

Student Learning Outcomes and Performance Criteria:

  1. Students will demonstrate professionalism in their interactions with others.
    1. Students will treat clients, opposing counsel, colleagues and others in the legal system with respect.
    2. Students will maintain effective ongoing communication with clients and third parties.
    3. Students will be able to make deliberate strategic choices about the appropriate level of objectivity and professional distance in interactions with others.
    4. Students will demonstrate cultural competence in their interactions with others.
    5. Students will be able to make deliberate strategic choices of interaction styles (cooperative, aggressive, etc.) that are appropriate to the situation and their client’s objectives.
    6. Students will demonstrate honesty, reliability, responsibility, judgment, self-motivation, hard work and critical self-reflection.
  2. Students will know how to operate within relevant legal fora, including tribunals, governmental agencies, and other formal settings within the legal system.
    1. Students will be able to make deliberate strategic choices of forum and procedural strategy.
    2. Students will be able to identify and conform to relevant practice rules applicable to the forum.
    3. Students will be able to identify and conform to relevant ethical rules and professional standards applicable to the forum.
  3. Students will demonstrate competence in basic lawyering transactions and strategies.
    1. Students will be able to conduct effective client interviews and counseling sessions.
    2. Students will be able to effectively establish and facilitate the internal law between the parties (e.g., alternative dispute resolution, contracts, settlement agreements).
    3. Students will demonstrate mastery of a range of lawyering transactions (e.g., fact investigation, document drafting, legislative drafting, litigation, appellate advocacy).
    4. Students will understand and employ a range of progressive lawyering strategies appropriate to the situation and their client’s objectives (e.g.,client-centeredness, co-production, collective action, community organizing and lawyering, transformative justice).
  4. Students will demonstrate reflective judgment when evaluating legal issues.
    1. Students will think beyond the boundaries of the law to integrate political, ethical, emotional and relational aspects of the problem, where appropriate.
    2. Students will be able to evaluate and sort sources of support for their conclusions, differentiating between evidence and opinions, expert and novice opinions, and interpretation.
    3. Students will employ appropriate rules of inquiry and exercise internal consistency in their evaluation of the problem.

Goal 4: Values.

Graduating students will understand the goals, structures, values and responsibilities of the legal profession and its members. Throughout the curriculum, students will consider the ethical and professional responsibility decisions that lawyers have to make in the course of representation and as a member of the bar.

Student Learning Outcomes and Performance Criteria:

  1. Students will be able to identify points of intersection between doctrinal subjects and experiential programs and professional responsibilities.
    1. Students will demonstrate knowledge of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
    2. Students will demonstrate knowledge of DC Rules of Professional Conduct and variations in such rules in the jurisdictions in which they plan to practice.
    3. Students will identify and analyze ethical issues perceived in the study of cases and problems in their doctrinal courses.
    4. Students will identify and analyze ethical issues that arise in community service, clinics, and internships.
  2. Students will demonstrate the ability to conduct themselves with honesty, integrity, fairness, respect, empathy, and cultural competence.
    1. Students will demonstrate honesty, integrity, fairness and respect for all persons encountered in their educational and professional careers.
    2. Students will be able to identify and overcome any cultural barriers to communication.
    3. Students will be aware of their assumptions about a client or client population and demonstrate respect for each client’s perspective.
  3. Students will develop a professional commitment to promote fairness and meaningful access to justice.
    1. Students will become familiar with systems through which legal assistance is provided to low-income and other underserved populations.
    2. Students will analyze laws, legal issues, and doctrines with regard to structural inequality in our society and the limitations of access to justice.
    3. Students will recognize the impact of legislation on underserved populations.
    4. Students will demonstrate understanding of corrective strategies to address inequalities in the law.
    5. Students will participate in activities to promote systemic change to broaden access to justice.
  4. Student attorneys and graduates will demonstrate professionalism in their roles as representatives of clients, officer of the court, and citizens dedicated to the effective administration of justice.
    1. Graduates will pass the MPRE as well as the bar exams of their respective jurisdictions.
    2. Graduates will demonstrate a commitment to providing pro bono representation and contribute to programs that effectively provide pro bono representation to under-represented persons.
    3. Graduates will actively participate in advocacy efforts before legislatures and administrative agencies to promote the effective administration of justice and to make quality legal services available to low-income persons.
    4. Graduates will participate in legal organizations to enhance the standards of effective lawyering.

 

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