What courses are available at ASL?

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Course Descriptions

Appellate Advocacy
Bar Preparation Studies
Business Associations
Capstone Courses
Civil Procedure I
Civil Procedure II
Constitutional Law I
Constitutional Law II
Contracts I
Contracts II
Criminal Law
Criminal Procedure
Dispute Resolution
Estates and Trusts
Evidence
Externship
Family Law
Independent Study
Introduction to Law
Law Journal
Legal Process I
Legal Process II
Moot Court
Payment Systems
Practicum Courses
Professional Responsibility
Property I
Property II
Secured Transactions
Seminar
Strategies for Legal Success
Torts

Appellate Advocacy

(3 credit hours) Focuses on the art of oral advocacy and provides further instruction in persuasive writing. Students write appellate briefs and present oral arguments.

Bar Preparation Studies

(3 credit hours) Builds on the analytical, writing, and organizational skills taught across the ASL curriculum with the goal of enhancing a student's ability to prepare for the July bar examination. Although the most intensive preparation for the bar will occur in the six to eight weeks before the bar examination, BPS will prepare students for that period of study and practice by introducing them to the format and components of the bar exam and the scope of the task, and by conveying information about study and organizational skills. Students will review selected substantive topics, learn methods by which to review the tested areas of law, complete practice essays, multiple choice and performance test questions, and receive individualized feedback on written answers. This course is not intended to replace commercial bar preparation courses. While this course focuses on  the Multistate Bar Examination  subjects (Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts), the class will also be divided into smaller sections with additional meetings to be scheduled based on the state bar exam being taken by the students.

Business Associations

(4 credit hours) A study of the law concerning business entities, including: the factors affecting the selection of the form of a business enterprise; the nature of corporate entities; and the promotion, organization, activities, financing, management, and dissolution of business corporations. In addition to discussing the law of corporations, the course covers the principles by which one party may act as agent for another and the law governing unincorporated business organizations such as partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, and limited liability partnerships.

Capstone Courses

(2 or 3 hours) Designed to provide students with a comprehensive review of various subject matters essential to the practice of law. Third-year students are required to take a fixed amount of capstone courses, including one state practice elective. Capstone courses (and state practice electives) vary from year to year, but include such courses as:

Administrative Law

(3 credit hours) Examines the role of the formal and informal administrative processes in our society, and emphasizes the powers and procedures common to all administrative agencies and the relationships among the legislative, judicial, and executive branches in the development of public policy. (Capstone and State Practice Elective)

Advanced Criminal Procedure  

(3 credit hours) Provides an overview of constitutional and other procedural issues inherent in the criminal process. Course coverage includes double jeopardy, entrapment, grand jury, confrontation clause, joinder and severance, and various jury issues.  

Advanced Torts 

(3 credit hours) Expands on the issues examined in the first year Torts course. It focuses on privacy and business torts. (Capstone)

Conflict of Laws

(3 credit hours) A study of the law relating to transactions with elements in more than one state or nation, jurisdiction of courts and enforcement of foreign judgments, constitutional issues, and the theoretical basis of choice of law. (Capstone and State Practice Elective)

Debtor-Creditor Law

(3 credit hours) Offers a comprehensive study of the legal principles governing the relationship of debtors and creditors, with primary emphasis on federal bankruptcy law and a focus on the rights of unsecured creditors. Traditional state remedies such as attachment, garnishment, execution, fraudulent conveyance, and debtors' exemptions also are covered. (Capstone and State Practice Elective)

Federal Income Taxation

(3 credit hours) Gives a basic understanding of federal income taxation relating to individuals and teaches the use and interpretation of complex statutes and regulations. (Capstone and State Practice Elective)

First Amendment 

(3 credit hours) Deals with the complex and ever-evolving jurisprudence regarding the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Primary emphasis will be on the many facets of freedom of expression, but freedom of religion will also be covered. Classes will trace the long history of First Amendment interpretation in the United States Supreme Court to illuminate the cutting-edge state of the law as it now stands. Focus will be on modern variations in First Amendment law generated by such phenomena as the internet, mass media communications, the war on terror, and other revolutionary developments in society and technology. Topics will include national security restrictions on free speech, obscenity/pornography, defamation, hate speech laws, and flag burning, among many others. (Capstone)

Remedies 

(3 credit hours) A study of the forms of legal and equitable remedies, the substantive law of restitution, and the problems of measuring damages and non-monetary forms of remedy. Various remedies are explored in both litigation and alternative dispute resolution contexts. (Capstone and State Practice Elective)

Sales 

(3 credit hours) A study of the law of contracts for the sale of tangible, movable items. The course focuses on Articles II and IIA of the Uniform Commercial Code. (Capstone)

Virginia Procedure 

(3 credit hours) Covers the subject of procedure from the point of view of practice in the Virginia state courts, with heaviest emphasis on civil procedure. Expected topics include self-help, subject matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, service of process, venue, parties, pleading, discovery, pre-trial motions, motions at trial, post-verdict motions, judgments, costs, and appeals. (Capstone and State Practice Elective)

Civil Procedure I

(2 credit hours) A general survey of court procedure in civil cases using federal civil procedure as a model. The course covers the jurisdiction of courts (both personal and subject matter), venue, pleading, discovery, disposition without trial, joinder of claims and parties, and effects of judgments.

Civil Procedure II

(3 credit hours) A continuation of Civil Procedure I.

Constitutional Law I

(3 credit hours) A study of the provisions in the United States Constitution governing our form of government and the powers of the federal judiciary, legislature, and executive. The course also reviews relations between the federal government and the states.

Constitutional Law II

(3 credit hours) A study of the limitations on governmental power over individuals inherent in constitutional provisions relating to due process and equal protection and freedom of speech and religion. The course evaluates the restrictions on private action mandated or permitted by these constitutional provisions.

Contracts I

(3 credit hours) Encompasses the study of legally enforceable promises, termed “contracts.” The course encompasses the study of what types of promises are legally enforceable, what it takes to form a contract, what the obligations of the parties are, what constitutes breach, and what remedies are available upon breach.

Contracts II

(3 credit hours) A continuation of Contracts I.

Criminal Law

(3 credit hours) An inquiry into the sources and goals of the criminal law, general principles of liability and defenses, and the characteristics of particular crimes.

Criminal Procedure

(3 credit hours) A survey of federal procedures and constitutional safeguards applicable in the criminal justice system, focusing on police investigation and arrest. Particular emphasis is given to Fourth Amendment issues.

Dispute Resolution

(2 credit hours) Provides students with a working knowledge of dispute resolution theory and practice. The major dispute resolution processes are examined critically with discussion of their strengths and weaknesses. Particular emphasis is given to negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and ethics. Legal, ethical, and policy issues that arise in the use of dispute resolution processes also are examined. A major theme throughout the course is the selection of appropriate dispute resolution forums and representation of clients in dispute resolution.

Estates and Trusts

(4 credit hours) A study of the devolution of property by descent and wills, including a study of intestacy, and related problems of construction. The course also covers a study of the formation and management of trusts, including the rights and responsibilities of settlors, rights and responsibilities of trustees, rights and responsibilities of beneficiaries, the doctrine of cy pres, and the concept of fiduciary duty. In addition, the course introduces the federal transfer tax system and related estate planning opportunities and techniques.

Evidence

(4 credit hours) An examination of the rules governing the admissibility of evidence in civil and criminal trials, with particular emphasis on the Federal Rules of Evidence. Topics covered include relevancy, the hearsay rule and its exceptions, examination, cross-examination, and impeachment of witnesses, witness competency, opinion and scientific evidence, admissibility of writings, judicial notice, and burdens of proof and presumptions.

Externship

(3 credit hours) Allows students to apply the skills learned in the core curriculum. Students typically take this course during the summer following their first year of studies. Students work for a total of approximately 200 unpaid hours in a judge's chambers, public law office, or public interest organization under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. Each student is assigned to a full-time faculty coordinator and the faculty coordinators conduct an orientation and a debriefing session before and after the externships. Externship placements for students have included federal magistrate, district court, and circuit judges; state Supreme Court justices in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina; state trial judges in Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Justice; Virginia Attorney General's Office; Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky Legal Services offices; Tennessee District Attorneys; Virginia Commonwealth Attorneys; West Virginia District Attorneys; North Carolina District Attorneys; Kentucky County Attorneys; Georgia District Attorneys; South Carolina Solicitor’s Office; and the Air Force Legal Office. Extern students' experiences typically include a combination of the following: observing court proceedings, researching legal issues, performing factual investigations, drafting pleadings and legal memoranda, drafting judicial opinions, updating law libraries, and assisting with trial strategy and problem solving.

Family Law

(3 credit hours) Covers various subject areas in family law, and introduction on how to practice in the family law area. The main topics covered are marriage, divorce, division of property, spousal support, child custody and visitation, child support, adoption, and domestic violence.

Independent Study

(1 to 3 credit hours) Involves assigned readings, conferences, research, and writing in specialized or advanced areas of the law. Proposals for Independent Study must be approved by the supervising professor and by the Curriculum Committee.

Introduction to Law

(1 credit hour) An introduction to legal analysis and the legal process. The course introduces the student to the structure of the judicial system and the thought processes used in it. In addition, there is significant emphasis on the nature of the legal profession, rules of conduct for lawyers, and the ideal of professionalism.

Law Journal

(2 credit hours) Credit is awarded to students who successfully complete two years of service on the Appalachian Journal of Law, including at least one year as a member of the Board of the Journal, and who produces a note of publishable quality. Successful completion of the requirements is determined by the Journal's faculty advisor. This course is graded on a pass/fail basis, and credit is awarded during the student's final semester in law school. Successful completion of the course will substitute for the seminar requirement or for a 2-credit-hour elective course, at the student's option.

Legal Process I

(3 credit hours) Explores the basic methods of legal analysis and legal research, and how to write clear and concise predictive legal analyses. Students are assigned a number of research and writing projects, which may include briefing cases and drafting office memoranda and client communications. Students also gain experience in editing and rewriting.

Legal Process II

(3 credit hours) A continuation of Legal Process I in which students receive further detailed instruction in and extensive practice with combining research and writing by doing the research for problems and preparing extensive written memoranda or other legal documents in response to assigned problems. Persuasive writing and advocacy are introduced.

Moot Court

(2 credit hours) Credit is awarded to students who successfully complete two years of service on the Moot Court Board, who compete in an interscholastic Moot Court competition, and who independently prepare at least one brief. Successful completion of the requirements is determined by the Moot Court Program's Faculty Advisor. This course is graded on a pass/fail basis, and credit is awarded during the student's final semester in law school. Successful completion of the course will substitute for the Seminar requirement or for a 2-credit-hour elective course, at the student's option.

Payment Systems

(3 credit hours) A study of the laws governing the mechanisms for the transfer of value from one party to another, including the law governing credit cards, letters of credit, and electronic funds transfer, with a primary focus on the law governing negotiable instruments. Also covered is the law governing the check-collection process and the bank-customer relationship. This is also a course in statutory construction, focusing on Articles 3 and 4 of the Uniform Commercial Code, as well as certain federal statutes.

Practicum Courses

(4 credit hours) Practicum courses are designed to give students practical, skills-based training. These courses combine skills training with additional instruction in a particular substantive area of the law. Practicum courses are open to third-year students only, and enrollment in each course is limited. The practicum offerings vary from year to year.

Advanced Negotiations

Offers students the opportunity to develop further the skills learned in Dispute Resolution. It will focus on simulations and negotiation exercises intended to give students more first-hand experience in applying interest-based negotiation techniques. The course examines the skills, constraints, and dynamics of negotiation. Students will also learn a theoretical framework for understanding negotiation practice in a variety of contexts through readings from the fields of law, psychology, business, and communication. Prior successful completion of Dispute Resolution is a prerequisite for this course.

Certified Civil Mediation

Will help students progress towards the entry-level mediator certification required by the Supreme Court of Virginia for persons who want the court to list them as court-referred mediators. The course will provide students with the first element of the certification requirements by providing at least 20 hours of professional mediation skills training. For students who will practice outside Virginia, this class may receive reciprocal recognition as the basic mediation training required in other states. Mediation requires a diverse set of skills that consider the legal context of the dispute, the interests and psychological needs of the parties, the emotions fueling the dispute, the parties' need for apology and forgiveness, and the techniques for helping parties reach reconciliation. Good mediators are skillful at listening, questioning, paraphrasing, and reframing. This course will give students the ability to develop these skills through readings, demonstrations and role-play exercises. The course also will satisfy the upper level writing requirement. Students will write an 18-20 page paper analyzing a "difficult conversation" they had with another person. Students also will conduct a complete mediation role-play as the second component of the grade in this class.

Client Interviewing and Counseling

Will introduce students to fundamental lawyering skills involved in the critical process of client interviewing and counseling. This course will cover basic interviewing techniques; psychological factors affecting the interviewing process; facilitating and structuring the interview; clarification of statements and ascertaining legal issues; dealing with client resistance and hostility; efforts towards resolution; and the nature and conduct of the counseling process. It will also introduce students to an emerging approach to client representation called Collaborative Law. Students will read materials on communication, psychology, and law. Interactive role-plays and simulations will help students to put the concepts from the reading material into direct practice and application.

Criminal Practice

Includes both substantive instruction and skills training on pre- and post-trial criminal practice issues. Students will prepare written motions and participate in simulated in-class exercises involving indictment and charging decisions, client relations, bail and release, investigation, discovery, preliminary hearings, pre-trial motions, guilty pleas, sentencing, and probation. The course focuses on both defense and prosecution issues and students will have the opportunity to experience both sides of criminal practice through in-class exercises.

Employment Law and Practice

Practice surveys common law, statutory, and constitutional regulation of the employment relationship. Topics covered will include employment at will, employment contracts, employment discrimination under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans With Disabilities Act, and various federal wage and hour statutes. If time permits, the course may cover OSHA regulations governing safety in the workplace. The course does not include any coverage of laws pertaining to unionization of workers. This course will also contain a writing component, including but not limited to short research papers based on the law of the state where a student will be taking the bar, interviewing clients and drafting an employment contract, interviewing clients in preparation for filing both an EEOC complaint and a Title VII complaint, and drafting the complaints and other pleadings associated with a multiple-count Title VII complaint.

Estate Planning

Develops students’ skills relating to the disposition of property during lifetime and at death. The first part of the course will examine federal estate and gift taxation. The second part of the course will focus on developing estate plans and drafting the instruments (e.g., wills, trusts, etc.) necessary to implement such plans so as to accomplish a client’s non-tax objectives while minimizing estate taxes, gift taxes, and income taxes.

Family Law Practice

Will focus on substantive instruction and skills training in issues most prevalent to a family law practitioner. The course will cover selected subject areas in family law, such as annulment, divorce grounds and defenses, spousal support, child support, property division upon dissolution of marriage, ante-nuptial agreements, post-nuptial agreements, and child custody and visitation. Students will receive instruction in the preparation of pleadings, motions, court orders, and agreements. Students will also participate in simulated in-class exercises, including in-class simulated client interviews and court hearings.

Insurance Law Practice

Will focus on substantive instruction and writing skills training in issues most relevant to an insurance law practice. The course will include study of selected subject areas in insurance law, including automobile, fire and casualty (homeowners), liability, health, and disability. Among other topics covered will be the formation and operation of the insurance contract, coverage and exclusions, insurable interests, the claims process, subrogation, and vehicles to determine coverage issues such as declaratory judgment actions.

Law Office Practice

Provides grounding in lawyering skills in several areas: legal drafting, interaction with clients, and the management of a small law office. The legal drafting component emphasizes the drafting of transactional documents, e.g., various types of contracts, rather than litigation documents. The course includes practice exercises simulating work with clients and the other parties on business transactions. Topics covered in the office management component include: structure of law firms; financial issues (including compensation, billing, fees, and trust accounts); business development (marketing and advertising); law practice tools; and personnel, office, and operational issues.

Pretrial Practice

Focuses on the handling and preparation of a civil case from the time a client walks in the lawyer’s office to the eve of trial. Specific topic covered will include: client interviewing and counseling; tactical considerations of where and what to file; preparation of the pleadings; taking and defending discovery; interviewing witnesses; preparation of pretrial motions. Students will prepare a series of written documents and take part in a variety of in-class exercises.

Real Estate Transactions

Focuses on how commercial and residential real estate is conveyed. Lecture will discuss legal theories of title, transfer, and ownership issues. Students will prepare written projects that will require research of title records, statutes, and precedent. Projects will follow real property as it is conveyed, mortgaged, leased, and foreclosed. Condominium issues and mineral rights transfers will be addressed. Students will work with a local attorney to gain experience in current issues. Skills elements of this course include real estate title search; drafting of purchase and sales agreements, deeds, mortgages, UCC statements, closing settlement statements, and leases; drafting and review of easements, attachments, and other encumbrances; and drafting and scheduling of foreclosure sale.

Small Business Entities

Includes a study of issues relating to the formation of a small business. Coverage will include an understanding of business governance structures needed for a choice of the most appropriate business entity to meet the client's needs; the drafting of basic organizational documents, such as articles of incorporation, bylaws, resolutions, and minutes for corporations, partnership agreement provisions, and articles of organization and operating agreement provisions for limited liability companies (LLCs). It also will include a review of accounting and tax issues and other issues related to the purchase of a business.

State and Local Government Practicum

Will give students the opportunity to explore the multitude of problems faced by state and local governments (including New Orleans) and to draft statutes designed to address such problems. It will examine current cases of interest to state and local governments and discuss their merit. Issues such as homelessness, affordable housing, voting rights, juvenile rights, eminent domain, economic development, and the Freedom of Information Act will be addressed.

Sustainable Energy Law Practicum

Students explore the significant challenges facing the energy industry today, including climate change concerns, energy independence and security, traditional pollution, regulatory and litigation burdens, jobs, the price of electricity, “peak” supply, and increased energy demand. Students will gain an understanding of historical and current energy use, law and policy, both globally and nationally. The class is built around the following units: the international regime; national energy and environmental policy; coal law and policy; natural gas law and policy; transportation and oil; nuclear and renewable energy; and legislation and litigation. Students will represent nations in mock climate treaty negotiations; debate the “hot” energy issues of the day; and advise “clients” on energy-related regulations and agreements. Reading materials are compiled from source documents (treaties, regulations, laws and court decisions), government and industry studies and reports, and current commentary. There is a significant paper due at the end of the class.

Trial Advocacy

Intensive course in the analysis, skills, and techniques of trials. The course includes simulated exercises on all aspects of in-court trial practice including opening statements, development of witness testimony on direct and cross examination, use of illustrative aids and exhibits in evidence, impeachment, expert testimony, and summations. Each participant will take part in at least one full simulated trial.

Professional Responsibility

(3 credit hours) Instruction in the history, structure, goals, duties, values, and responsibilities of the legal profession, including instruction in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The course focuses on a lawyer's responsibilities and duties to clients, the legal profession, courts, and the public.

Property I

(3 credit hours) Introduction to the law of personal property and real property, including estates and other interests in land, real property marketing and conveyancing, landlord and tenant issues, nuisance, regulatory limitations on land use, and eminent domain and inverse condemnation.

Property II

(3 credit hours) A continuation of Property I.

Secured Transactions

(3 credit hours) Studies credit transactions in which a loan is secured by an interest in personal property, as governed by Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code. With secured loans, the debtor and lender agree that if the debtor does not pay, the lender can take certain items of property (collateral) from the debtor. The course examines the mechanics of making secured loans, the rules that govern repossessing the collateral if the debtor does not pay, and what can happen to security interests if the debtor goes bankrupt. The course also examines the priority rules that rank competing claims to the same collateral.

Seminar Courses

(2 credit hours) Seminar courses require students to complete an expository or argumentative research paper under the supervision of a full-time faculty member. Each third-year student elects one seminar course. The seminar offerings vary from year to year; the following seminar courses were offered during recent academic years.

Alternative Dispute Resolution in Criminal Cases

Recognizes that the vast majority of criminal cases in the United States never go to trial but are instead resolved through an alternative form of dispute resolution. In this seminar, students will critically examine these processes, both as forms of dispute resolution and for their greater policy implications. This seminar will focus on more traditional forms of ADR in criminal cases such as negotiation of settlements through plea bargaining. In addition, this seminar will examine restorative justice, a victim/community-centered approach to crime and its impact. Restorative justice is increasingly used in criminal cases in the United States through a variety of different techniques including victim/offender conferencing, victim/family conferencing, and victim impact panels. This seminar will also examine truth and reconciliation commissions as a form of alternative dispute resolution in societies torn apart by war or by regimes that engaged in serious and long term violations of human rights.

Arbitration

Will expose students to the great breadth of the field of arbitration, including arbitration in the commercial, labor, employment, consumer, construction, insurance, sports, securities, health care, and international context. The course will consider the following topics: the origins of arbitration; how arbitration compares to other dispute resolution processes; binding versus non-binding arbitration; how arbitration fits in the system of justice; historical judicial attitudes about private binding arbitration; goals in drafting agreements to arbitrate; the use of third party administrators (like the American Arbitration Association); how agreements to arbitrate are enforced and challenged (including international agreements to arbitrate); the arbitrability of federal statutory claims; the pre-emption of state arbitration law; how arbitral awards are enforced and challenged; and arbitral ethics. The course also requires students to independently research and write a 20-page seminar paper. Students will share their research with other students during the last part of the class. The instructor will also ask students to research the appellate briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in several significant cases. The instructor will ask those students to prepare short oral arguments based on those briefs.

Corporate Governances

Premised on the belief that, as corporations gain more power over our lives, it is vitally important that an examination be undertaken regarding how corporations are governed and what responsibilities they have to the people. This seminar will begin with an examination of the Enron scandals, focusing specifically on Congress' role in facilitating the disaster and the remedial statutes that Congress enacted in an attempt to prevent such fiascos. The seminar will examine the impact of major corporations like Wal-Mart on both the American and the global landscape. The course will also explore whether corporations should have an obligation to act in socially responsible ways.

Disability Law

Examines federal and state legislation governing compensation of disabled persons.

Environmental Law

(3 credit hours) Examines selected topics in the law governing the protection of air, water, and land from pollution. Early class sessions will cover: (1) brief overviews of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; (2) the impact of Climate Change on the permitting process; (3) additional areas of environmental law having regional connections, including mine permitting and regulation; (4) competing conceptual approaches to environmental regulation; (5) the political and bureaucratic aspects of environmental regulation as a model of regulation generally; (6) emerging notions of environmental justice; and (7) the role of citizen enforcement, including the implications of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions dealing with the issue of standing. Reading materials will focus on judicial decisions, administrative materials, and case law but will also include selections from the literature of science, economics, and political science that underlie current legal debates in environmental law. Early classes will involve the students in informal presentations based on the reading materials. The last few classes will be devoted to presentation and discussion of student research papers.

Intellectual Property

Focuses on the basics of patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret law.

Natural Resources

Examines the specialized property rules governing estates in natural resources, the correlative rights of surface and mineral owners, and the rights to explore, mine and extract, develop, and transport natural resources, with primary emphasis on "hard" minerals. As a compliment to existing courses in Administrative and Environmental law, the course examines selected issues of natural resources regulation from the perspective of the regulated community.

Practice Before the Social Security Administration

Addresses the substantive and procedural law and various practice skills applicable to representing clients with disability claims before the Social Security Administration.

 

Strategies for Legal Success

(1 credit hour) Helps students improve the essential skills needed to succeed in law school, including critical thinking, reading, listening, effective case briefing, note taking, outlining, and exam writing. This course also promotes an understanding of the law of Agency that students will encounter in Torts, Contracts, Property, and Business Associations.

Torts

(4 credit hours) Reviews the standards and principles governing legal liability for intentional and unintentional invasions of interests of personality and property, including such topics as assault, battery, negligence, strict liability, and products liability.