ASL’s course descriptions are listed in alphabetical order. Courses that will satisfy requirements such as the capstone elective, practicum, or seminar requirements will be noted in parenthesis after the number of credit hours. Capstone electives are 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 electives. The offerings for capstone electives vary from year to year. 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. Enrollment in each practicum course is limited. The practicum offerings vary from year to year. Seminar courses require students to complete an expository or argumentative research paper under the supervision of a full-time faculty member. The seminar offerings vary from year to year.
Advanced Legal Research
Agricultural Law: Food Safety, Security, Sustainability
Assistantship, Research or Teaching
Bar Preparation Studies
Business Associations/Agency or Business Organizations
Civil Procedure I
Civil Procedure II
Client Interviewing, Counseling, and Negotiation
Conflict of Laws
Constitutional Law I
Constitutional Law II
Current Issues in Constitutional Law
Doing and Undoing Environmental Regulations
Energy, Economics, and the Environment
Environmental Crimes and Torts
Environmental Dispute Resolution
Family Law Live Client Clinic
Family Law Practice
Federal Income Taxation
Information Privacy Law
Intensive Negotiations Workshop
Introduction to ASL Legal Studies I and II
Introduction to ASL Legal Studies III and IV
Introduction to Externship
Introduction to Law/Strategies for Success
Law of Coalbed Methane
Law Office Management/Solo Law Practice
Legal Process I
Legal Process II
Mental Health in the Criminal Justice System
Mineral Title Search and Examination
Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) Fundamentals
Negotiations in the Criminal Justice System
Oil and Gas Law
Pretrial Practice Live Client Clinic
Real Estate Transactions
Social Security Disability
Social Security Disability & Workers’ Compensation
Solo Law Practice/Law Office Management
State & Local Government
Supreme Court Survey of Energy Law Cases
Sustainable Energy Law Practice
Trial Advocacy Live Client Clinic
Virginia Bar Studies
Virginia Civil Procedure
Virginia Criminal Law and Procedure
Virginia Law Foundations
Wills and Estates
Administrative Law – 3 credit hours (capstone elective)
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.
Advanced Legal Research – 1 credit hour (general elective)
Advanced Legal Research expands on the skills first year students learned in Legal Process I and II. It focuses on the type of research projects lawyers face in the first few years of practice.
Advanced Torts – 3 credit hours (capstone elective)
Expands on the issues examined in the first year Torts course. It focuses on privacy, business torts, product liability, and defamation. Prerequisite: Torts
Agency/Partnership – 2 credit hours (general elective)
This course will explore unincorporated business associations. We will consider agency, partnership and limited liability entities. Discussion will emphasize the obligations, benefits and pitfalls of each entity. Cases will be reviewed that are in conflict and/or turn on minor differences. The class will discuss and consider why, in recent years, these types of business associations have become more prevalent and important. Prerequisites: Contracts I & II and Torts.
The goal of this course is to provide students with a basic background in this area of the law. Upon completion, students should feel reasonably comfortable advising clients on these issues.
Agricultural Law: Food Safety, Security, Sustainability – 2 credit hours (seminar)
In recent years, our agricultural practices have come under increasing criticism. Our food supply has turned from traditional farming and traditional food sources to factory farming and processed foods, leading to a variety of food safety issues. At the same time, the very practices that allow farmers to produce enough food for the current population are creating environmental degradation that call into question the sustainability of our food security. The course examines the roles of governments in subsidizing farming and regulating food practices while balancing the tensions between food safety, food security, and sustainable food supplies.
Appellate Advocacy – 3 credit hours (required course)
Appellate Advocacy is an upper-level required course which provides second year students with the opportunity to further develop their skills as a legal writer and oral advocate. The course focuses on appellate theory and practice, standards of review, advanced appellate brief writing, and the art of appellate oral argument. Students will complete at least one major writing assignment and participate in a class wide moot court competition. Appellate Advocacy is generally offered in at least two sections. At least one section will utilize a hypothetical drawn from natural resource law, while the other section(s) focus on a hypothetical drawn more broadly from other fields of law. Prerequisite: Legal Process I & II
Assistantship, Research, or Teaching – 1 credit hour [4 hour maximum toward degree]
A student will work under the supervision of a member of the full time faculty and assist in providing research assistance to the faculty member in furtherance of a substantial scholarly endeavor or assist in grading formative assessments and providing supplemental instruction to lower level students. This endeavor will broaden or deepen a student’s knowledge of a law topic beyond that provided in a standard offering of a course’s material. A student must complete and document 65 hours of work and in the case of a teaching assistantship, [substantial experience]. The supervising faculty member will verify completion of requirements to earn credit. Prerequisite: Completion of all the required first year courses and, if a teaching assistantship, the course for which assistance will be provided
Bar Preparation Studies – 3 credit hours (required course)
Bar Preparation Studies (BPS) is a bar preparatory course that will build 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 bar examination. Although the most intensive preparation for the bar will occur in the nine to eleven 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 feedback on practice questions. This course is not intended to replace commercial bar preparation courses, but rather to introduce (or re-introduce) students to tested substantive law and many of the strategies needed to perform well on the bar exam. 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 include additional sessions and lectures on state subjects, based on the state bar exam being taken by students. — Civil Procedure I & II; Contracts I & II; Property I & II; Constitutional Law I & II; Criminal Law; Criminal Procedure; Torts; and, Evidence.
Business Associations/Agency or Business Organizations – 4 credit hours (required course)
Business Associations/Agency is 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. Prerequisites: Contracts I & II; Torts; Property I & II
Civil Procedure I – 2 credit hours (required course)
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. Prerequisite: Introduction to Law
Client Interviewing, Counseling, and Negotiation – 4 credit hours (practicum)
In this course, students will develop the skills involved in successful interviewing and counseling of clients and optimal negotiation with non-clients. Daily interactive simulations will be combined with frequent short writing assignments (app. 3 pages) designed to solidify the analysis and communication skills students have acquired in earlier courses. Heavy emphasis will be placed on the psychological factors affecting the interviewing, counseling, and negotiation processes as well as the need for linguistic precision when interacting with clients and non-clients. Simulations and assignments will involve various areas of law, but the class will culminate in the negotiation and drafting of a 10-page settlement agreement for a civil dispute.
Coal Law – 2 – 4 credit hours (practicum)(may be offered as a combined course with Oil and Gas Law)
Familiarizes students with the legal, business and environmental side of the coal and hard mineral law. Although broadly covering the industry, the course will specifically prepare and introduce students to focus on the nature of ownership of subsurface minerals; methods of transferring ownership; property rights; partition among co-owners; analysis of leasehold estates, rights and duties; coal mining rights and privileges; regulatory and environmental issues; and administrative processes. The course will require the drafting of legal memorandums and pleadings, oral presentations, and advocacy skills. The course makes use of speakers who serve as in-house counsel for energy companies and utilities, and/or practitioners in the natural resource industry.
Conflict of Laws – 3 credit hours (capstone)
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. Prerequisites: Civil Procedure I & II
Constitutional Law I – 3 credit hours (required course)
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 (required course)
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. Prerequisites: Constitutional Law I
Contract Drafting – 2 credit hours (practicum)
This course will teach you the principles of contemporary commercial contract drafting and introduce you to documents typically used in a variety of transactions. The skills you gain will apply to any transactional practice and will even be useful to litigators. On finishing the course, you 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. Prerequisites: Contracts I & II
Contracts I – 3 credit hours (required course)
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.
Corporate Governance – 2 credit hours (seminar)
It is vitally important that every student have some basic knowledge of how corporations are governed and the impact such governance has on our daily lives. The food we eat, the air we breathe, the safety of our modes of transportation (from bicycles to eighteen wheelers!) are all dependent upon the type of corporate governance of the corporations which affect these areas. The fact that real people who manage corporations make decisions which can greatly benefit or harm us makes it imperative that we examine such decisions and decide how corporations should operate to serve the interests not only of their shareholders but also of the American people. This Corporate Governance will examine these issues and others.
Criminal Practice – 4 credit hours (practicum)
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. Prerequisites: Criminal Law; Criminal Procedure; and Evidence
Criminal Procedure – 3 credit hours (required course)
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. Prerequisites: Criminal Law
Current Issues in Constitutional Law – 2 credit hours (seminar)
Examines decisions of the Supreme Court dealing with constitutional law. Students will undertake detailed analysis and in-class discussion of the decisions and their rationale. Prerequisites: Constitutional Law I and Constitutional Law II
Debtor-Creditor Law – 3 credit hours (capstone and state practice elective)
This course will offer a comprehensive study of the legal principles governing the relationship of debtors and creditors, with primary emphasis on non-bankruptcy state law matters. The course will focus on creditor’s rights and remedies as well debtor’s rights under state law. A brief introduction to bankruptcy and secured transactions will also be presented as part of the course since it necessarily relates to the overall understanding of the debtor-creditor relationship.
Dispute Resolution – 2 credit hours (required course)
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.
Doing and Undoing Environmental Regulations – 2 credit hours (general elective)
With new presidential administrations come new environmental policies. After a slew of congressionally-enacted environmental laws in the 1970s and 1980s, EPA and other federal agencies set out to implement and enforce those laws through rule-making, and presidents complemented such rule-making with executive orders and enforcement priorities. Perhaps in no other area of law, at least in recent years, do new administrations impose their priorities more than in the rules and policies relating to the environment, energy, land use and climate change. This course will explore the legal and administrative tools that are available to new administrations to change or erase the environmental policies of their predecessors, as well as the legal and administrative obstacles new administrations face in such efforts. The class will look broadly at policy changes between administrations dating back to the 1970s, before looking into specific rules and policies that have been reversed with the more recent changes of administrations, paying specific attention to the dismantling of Obama-era environmental regulations under the Trump administration. The Administrative Procedures Act, the Congressional Review Act, Executive Orders, prosecutorial discretion, enforcement policies, and taking new positions in litigation will all be explored for their impact on attempts to effectuate environmental policy and regulatory changes between presidential administrations. This two-hour course will combine seminar-style lectures with class discussion and debate, and will culminate in a final exam.
E-discovery – 3 credit hours
This course guides the student through the complicated process of handling Electronically Stored Information (ESI). Recommended best practices are explored and analyzed within the framework of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct with particular emphasis on lawyer competence in technology matters. The knowledge gained in this course will benefit both those who plan to be litigators as well as those who choose a transactional practice. The subject matter includes an in depth analysis of ESI, metadata, litigation holds, social media and related digital information sources. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will be examined to illustrate the shift from paper to digital records in litigation and the subsequent changes to the Rules to accommodate this new environment. Students will also review the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) and the principles established by the Sedona Conference to develop skills and experience in handling digital information. Throughout the course, students will learn the ethical requirements governing the attorney’s role in the collection, storage and dissemination of digital information. Prerequisites: Civil Procedure I and Civil Procedure II.
Energy, Economics, and the Environment – 2 or 3 credit hours
Energy, Economics, and the Environment examines developing legal issues in the energy industry through the lens of economic theory. The course focuses on the environmental issues resulting from energy usage and regulatory schemes. Relevant constitutional law issues will be discussed as well as the complex challenges facing the utility industry and its regulators as renewable energy begins to gain a foothold in the United States. The legal hurdles to effective regulation of transportation form a significant component of the course as well as the role of corporate social responsibility in a heavily regulated industry.
Entrepreneurship Law – 2 credit hours (practicum)
Entrepreneurship Law is designed to give law students exposure to the lawyer’s activities in the life cycle of a business, from start-up to disposition. In addition to relevant legal principles and key forms used in the market, this course will bore into significant financial concepts that every good business attorney should know. This course will review how to start, finance, buy, and sell a business. Students will be paired into firms, buy-side and sell-side, for the final assignment.
Environmental Crimes and Torts – 2 credit hours (practicum)
Environmental Crimes and Torts will cover major cases as well as the elements and prosecutorial procedure of criminal actions under major U.S. environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. The course will also discuss major issues and special issues surrounding toxic torts. The course will be a combination of lecture and practical work with the primary assessments for the course consisting of several relatively small drafting assignments such as a complaint; answer; motion to dismiss; motion for a new trial; or a portion of any of these. Prerequisites: Torts and Criminal Law
Environmental Dispute Resolution – 2-4 credit hours (practicum)
Explores the characteristics of environmental and natural resource disputes, how they arise, and how we choose to resolve them. The course examines the range of resolution options available, from rights-based approaches (litigation, appellate advocacy and arbitration) to interest-based approaches (consensus building, mediation, collaborative governance and group facilitation). Students practice and explore the skills needed to use collaborative practices in typically adversarial interactions. This skills course relies heavily on simulations involving resource disputes taken from current headlines, such as those involving endangered species of the Upper Clinch River Valley, mountain top mining permits granted in Central Appalachia, and ridgeline placement of wind farms. It will also examine the approach taken by the administrator of the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund.
Environmental Law – 3 credit hours (seminar)
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.
Estate Planning – 2-4 credit hours (practicum)
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. Prerequisites: Wills and Estates
Evidence – 4 credit hours (required course)
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 – field work 2 credit hours (required course); classroom component 1 credit hour (required course)
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. Prerequisite: Completion of 28 credit hours prior to beginning work at field placement.
Family Law – 3 credit hours (required course)
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.
Family Law Practice – 2-4 credit hours (practicum)
Focuses 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. Prerequisite: Family Law
Federal Income Taxation – 3 credit hours (capstone elective)
Gives a basic understanding of federal income taxation relating to individuals and teaches the use and interpretation of complex statutes and regulations.
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 the Dean.
Information Privacy Law – 2 credit hours (seminar)
An exploration of some of the areas in which information privacy may be at risk: law enforcement, national security, health care, financial data, etc. This offering is usually taught as a seminar. In each area, the seminar examines case law, statutory regimes, and policy approaches. The seminar is usually taught as a colloquium; after an introduction to several legal and philosophical perspectives on information privacy, teaching will be undertaken by students, with each team of students being responsible for leading a discussion on a topic related to information privacy. Students will also complete a final paper on some aspect of information privacy law covered in the seminar.
Insurance Law – 2 credit hours (general elective)
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.
Immigration Law – 2 credit hours
This course will introduce students to the basic rules governing noncitizens who wish to enter, who live, study, and/or work in the United States. Using problems and case studies, students will examine the Immigration and Nationality Act and requirements for and restrictions on entry into the U.S. (visas and admissibility); rights and restrictions on activities once in the U.S. (e.g., work, education; drivers licenses); removal of noncitizens; and naturalization.
Intellectual Property – 3 credit hours (general elective)
During the first half of this course students will receive an introduction to trademark, copyright, and patent law. The second half of the class will focus on day-to-day issues regarding intellectual property in the workplace and in transactions. For example, we will study: (1) intellectual property provisions in employment agreements, (2) provisions regarding ownership of intellectual property that appears generally in asset or stock acquisition agreements, (3) nondisclosure agreements, and (4) contracts for the sale of intellectual property.
Introduction to ASL Legal Studies I and II – 2 credit hours each (required course)
Introduction to ASL Legal Studies is a two-semester academic excellence course designed to teach the skills necessary to successfully participate in class, effectively manage time, prepare course materials, and practice for exams.
Students will learn the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills that are essential to excel in law school, pass the bar exam, and succeed in the practice of law. Topics to be covered include the stages of a lawsuit, court structure, case and statute reading and briefing, understanding case rationales, case synthesis, time management, optimizing individual learning styles, course outlining, law school and legal note-taking, issue spotting on essays, how to analyze (and write) effectively for law school exams, how to answer law school and MBE-style multiple choice questions, and other exam-taking strategies.
Introduction to ASL Legal Studies III and IV – 2 credit hours each
A continuation of Introduction to ASL Legal Studies I and II. Introduction to ASL Legal Studies III is required for students who receive a grade of NP or F in four or more doctrinal courses in their 1L year. Students who receive a grade below a “C” in Introduction to ASL Legal Studies III will be required to take Introduction to ASL Legal Studies IV.
Introduction to Law/Strategies for Success (replaced in 2017 by Introduction to ASL Legal Studies)– 1 credit hour (required course)
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.
Juvenile Law – 2 credit hours (seminar or practicum)
This course is a study of the three principal branches of juvenile court jurisdiction: delinquency, abuse/neglect and status offense proceedings as well as the basics of developmental psychology in exploring questions of capacity, competency and culpability. The course analyzes how the role of counsel differs from the role of a guardian ad litem or of a Court Appointed Special Advocate. Each student writes a 20-25 page research paper on some topic of juvenile law and makes a twenty minute presentation of the topic in class. The paper is critiqued, and the student edits and resubmits it for the final grade. This course satisfies the upper level writing requirement.
Law Journal – 2 credit hours
Credit is awarded to students who successfully complete two years of service on Appalachian School of Law 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.
Law of Coalbed Methane – 1 credit hour (general elective)
This course will provide students with the opportunity to explore the unique legal issues associated with coalbed methane gas. The course will fall into three segments. Part one will provide a brief introduction to coalbed methane’s history, production, and development. Part two will then comparatively examine ownership theories. Finally, part three will present each ownership theory through state and federal case-law.
Law Office Management/Solo Law Practice – 2 credit hours (practicum)
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.
Legal Process I – 3 credit hours (required course)
The Legal Process component of this course 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 (required course)
A continuation of Legal Process I that explores the art and science of legal writing in greater depth. Students will complete written assignments of significant complexity and acquire more advanced research skills to be used in the production of practice-ready predictive and persuasive legal documents. Students will apply the lessons of Legal Process I and II to their own careers, learning how to write compelling cover letters and other successful professional correspondence. Prerequisites: Legal Process I
Mental Health in the Criminal Justice System – 2 credit hours (practicum)
During this course, students will: 1) Learn practical knowledge using a comprehensive overview of mental health jurisprudence in a variety of criminal litigation contexts such as competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility, competency to be executed, juvenile transfer, sexual offender risk assessment, and civil commitment. 2) Understand the background, efficacy and reliability of instruments and methods currently employed in the forensic assessment of mental disability and/or aptitude. 3) Discover the ethical dilemmas and legal ramifications inherent in the representation or prosecution of those with mental health problems in the modern and historical legal system. 4) Gauge the knowledge, skill, experience, training, education, credentials, and effectiveness of potential mental health experts and consultants, with an understanding of the discrete nature and critical impact of each of these professional attributes.
Mineral Title Search and Examination – 2 credit hours (practicum)
This course will familiarize and provide the students with an overview of the process of examining mineral titles and rendering legal opinions on title in the context of mineral production and development. Students will gain hands-on experience by conducting mineral title examinations in regional courthouses as well as drafting title opinions. The course will focus on examining title to Appalachian mineral properties, including natural gas and coal. The course will include a hands-on title search component where students will research the title from public records, learn how to identify conveyances and exceptions, and how to construe a mineral severance deed. The course will cover examining the title and identifying potential problems with the title, such as mortgages, easements, inadequate legal descriptions, improperly acknowledged documents, powers of attorney, foreclosures, bankruptcies, unpaid taxes, deed restrictions and reverters.
Moot Court – 2 credit hours
Students who successfully complete four semesters of service on the Appalachian School of Law Moot Court Board, independently prepare at least one brief, and compete in an interscholastic Moot Court competition may substitute such service for the Seminar Requirement. The Moot Court Program’s Faculty Advisor(s) will review at least one draft and provide feedback and opportunity for revision of the student’s brief. If interscholastic competition rules prevent such review and feedback prior to submission of an independently prepared competition brief, that process may take place after the brief is submitted but before seminar credit is awarded. In all cases the Moot Court Program’s Faculty Advisor(s) shall determine the sufficiency of the brief prior to an award of seminar credit.
Students who successfully complete four semesters of service on Appalachian School of Law Moot Court Board and compete in an interscholastic Moot Court competition may substitute such service for a two-credit upper level elective course. In such cases, the student shall earn two semester credit hours for “Moot Court” at the end of the student’s final semester.
The Moot Court Program’s Faculty Advisor(s) will determine whether students have successfully completed Moot Court service and are eligible for seminar or elective credit. Students may receive a total of two (2) credits for Moot Court activities, regardless of the number of competitions in which they compete.
Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) Fundamentals – 2 credit hours (capstone)
Course structure: This upper level course combines substantive review of bar-tested subjects with multiple choice question deconstruction and extensive practice.
This course is designed to provide early preparation for the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) and uses best practices and cognitive learning science to promote learning. The course will be focused directly towards driving student achievement on the bar exam by working to build critical analytical skills, and will combine substantive review with multiple choice question deconstruction. The primary goal of this course is to develop the expertise and sound analytical processes necessary for MBE multiple choice questions. Practice-testing will include actual former MBE questions. Please note that this course is not remedial in nature; on the contrary, the course will cover a significant amount of substantive information and will be fast-paced.
Natural Resources – 2 credit hours (seminar)
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.
Negotiations in the Criminal Justice System – 2 credit hours (practicum)
This two credit course fosters acquisition and development of negotiation skills, relevant to criminal proceedings. The course will cover ethical, practical and skills based techniques and issues. Upon successful completion of Negotiations in the Criminal Justice System,” students will be able to: 1) Evaluate all aspects of a criminal case from both a prosecution and defense perspective. 2) Understand the ethical and legal bounds of prosecutorial discretion, including tactics, for structuring and offering a plea bargain. 3) Understand the value and potential pitfalls of plea bargaining as a method for resolving criminal cases. 4) As defense counsel, evaluate a defendant’s best interests as well as formulating a well thought out strategy for plea negotiations with prosecutors and complaining witnesses. 5) Know the obligations of effective plea bargaining as mandated by the ABA Standards of Practice and recent court cases.
Oil and Gas Law – 2-4 credit hours (practicum)(may offered as a combined course with Coal Law)
Applies property law and contract law principles to a complex natural resource, and evaluates resource rights from the perspective of the developer, the property owner, and the regulator. ASL is in the Marcellus shale region, one of the largest shale plays in the U.S. With U.S. oil and gas production exploding, and world demand and competition for natural resources growing, students are exposed to a growing area of law in need of lawyers who can serve as effective advocates, problem solvers and negotiators. Topics include the creation of mineral property interests in oil and gas, how those interests differ from other forms of real property, and how they are conveyed. Students evaluate oil and gas lease provisions, the principal instruments for transferring oil and gas rights. The course may require review and/or drafting of contracts, legal memorandums, and transactional documents. The course makes use of speakers who serve as in-house counsel for energy companies and utilities, and/or practitioners in the natural resource industry.
Post-Conviction Relief – 2 credit hours (seminar)
This course will cover principles and practices of post-conviction remedies available to collaterally attack a criminal conviction in federal courts. This class will provide students an opportunity to observe how constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, and civil procedure apply to Post-Conviction relief.
Pretrial Practice – 4 credit hours (practicum)
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.
Professional Responsibility – 3 credit hours (required course)
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 (required course)
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.
Real Estate Transactions – 2-4 credit hours (practicum)
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. Prerequisites: Contracts I & II; Property I & II
Remedies – 3 credit hours (capstone elective)
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.
Sales (Advanced Sales and Consumer Protection) – 3 credit hours (capstone)
Sales is the 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.
Secured Transactions/UCC – 3 credit hours (required course)
Secured Transactions is the study of consumer and business credit transactions in which a loan is consensually secured by an interest in personal property as governed by Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). The course examines the mechanics of creating and perfecting secured obligations, the application of a secured obligation to proceeds of collateral and after-acquired property, the effect of disposition of collateral by the debtor prior to satisfaction of the obligation, repossession and other rights of the secured creditor upon default by the debtor, priority rules between multiple creditors claiming security in the same collateral, and treatment of secured claims in a bankruptcy proceeding. Consideration is also given to non-consensual liens controlled in whole or part by other statutes or by common law. Payment Systems is the study of Article 3 of the UCC governing negotiable instruments and Article 4 of the UCC governing the check-collection process and the bank-customer relationship. Consideration is also given to related state and federal laws involving credit and debit card transactions, letters of credit, and electronic funds transfers. Prerequisites: Contracts I & II
Social Security Disability – 2 credit hours (general elective/practicum)
Familiarizes students with the substantive law governing social security disability claims. The course also covers the practical aspects of representing a claimant through the application, review, and appeals processes.
Social Security Disability & Workers’ Compensation – 2 credit hours (practicum)
This course will introduce students to the practical aspects of representing claimants for social security disability insurance and workers’ compensation benefits. This course will include instruction in the applicable legal theory, but the focus will be on the nuts and bolts of actually practicing in this area. Topics will include client interviewing, developing medical evidence, preparing witnesses for testimony, working with vocational experts, administrative hearing and appeals processes, and more.
State & Local Government – 2 credit hours (seminar)
As all of you are probably aware, state and local governments play as equally an important role in our lives as does the federal government. The role of law enforcement (police, district attorneys and judges), the placement of street signs and lights, the construction, operation and maintenance of our public schools all fall primarily under the jurisdiction of our state and local governments. One of the most important ways in which we can ensure that our representatives in state and local government respond to our needs is through the election process. This course will examine how well do state and local governments perform their essential functions and what we as citizens can do to insure that our representatives carry out their responsibilities.
Supreme Court Survey of Energy Law Cases – 2 credit hours (Practicum)
Students will examine energy law issues through the lens of important Virginia Supreme Court cases. The course will include such topics as coal, oil and gas, utilities, and administrative appeals. Students will work in teams to analyze and argue cases before Justice Elizabeth A. McClanahan. For each case, students will receive relevant briefs, statutes, Court rules, and cited materials.
Sustainable Energy Law Practice – 4 credit hours (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.
Title Examination – 2 credit hours (practicum)
This course will provide the students with an overview of the process of examining titles and rendering legal opinions on title in the context of residential and commercial real estate sales. The course will include a hands-on title search component where students will research the title from public records, learn to identify conveyances and exceptions, and to interpret deeds. The course will cover examining the title and identifying potential problems with the title, such as mortgages, easements, inadequate legal descriptions, improperly acknowledged documents, powers of attorney, foreclosures, bankruptcies, unpaid taxes, deed restrictions and reverters.
Torts – 4 credit hours (required course)
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, and strict liability. Prerequisites: Introduction to Law
Trial Advocacy – 4 credit hours (practicum)
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.
Virginia Civil Procedure – 3 credit hours (capstone elective)
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.
Virginia Criminal Law and Procedure – 2 or 3 credit hours (capstone elective)
This course is a review of Virginia Statutes, Rules of Court and Virginia appellate decisions important to a basic understanding of Virginia Criminal Law and Procedure. Topics include Virginia Criminal Law and Procedure distinctions, jurisdiction, venue, preliminary hearings, grand jury, pre-trial motions, trial, sentencing and appeals.
Virginia Law Foundations – 2 credit hours (capstone elective)
This course is designed to cover the major substantive and procedural areas of Virginia Civil Procedure. The rules of Court as promulgated by the Supreme Court of Virginia as well as statutory rules and case law will be examined in the course.
Wills and Estates – 3 credit hours (required course)
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. Prerequisites: Property I & II