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.
Assistantship, Research or Teaching
Bar Preparation Studies
Certified Civil Mediation
Civil Procedure I
Civil Procedure II
Client Interviewing, Counseling, and Negotiation
Coal and Mineral Law
Conflict of Laws
Constitutional Law I
Constitutional Law II
Energy, Economics, and the Environment
Energy Law and Policy
Environmental Dispute Resolution Practicum
Environmental Science for Lawyers
Estates and Trusts
Family Law Practice
Federal Income Taxation
Insurance Law Practice
Introduction to Immigration & Citizenship Law
Introduction to Law
Introduction to Natural Resources Law
Law of Governance, Risk Managements, and Compliance
Law Office Management
Law Office Practice
Legal Process I and Strategies for Success
Legal Process II
Mineral Title Search and Examination
Oil and Gas Law
Practice before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Real Estate Transactions
Regulation of Energy Markets and Utilities
Secured Transactions & Payment Systems
Sustainable Energy Law Practicum
The Law of Renewables
Virginia Bar Studies
Water Resource Law
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 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
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. Students may generally take Appellate Advocacy either in the Fall or the Spring. The fall section utilizes a hypothetical drawn from natural resource law, while the spring section focuses 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 meet with the faculty member for an hour each week of the semester and provide an average of at least three hours per week in assistance to the supervising faculty member to receive credit for an assistantship. Prerequisite: Completion of all the required first year courses and 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 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 essay, 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 meeting sessions to be scheduled, based on the state bar exam being taken by students. Prerequisites: demonstrating proficiency in the following subjects either by earning a PR when taking the course or through subsequent retesting or remedial measures as permitted by the Academic Standards in Chapter 5 — Civil Procedure I & II; Contracts I & II; Property I & II; Constitutional Law I & II; Criminal Law; Criminal Procedure; Torts; and, Evidence
Business Associations – 4 credit hours (required course)
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
Certified Civil Mediation – 4 credit hours (practicum)
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.
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 and Mineral Law – 2 credit hours
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 elective)
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. Prerequisites: Introduction to Law
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.
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. Prerequisites: Introduction to Law
Criminal Law – 3 credit hours (required course)
An inquiry into the sources and goals of the criminal law, general principles of liability and defenses, and the characteristics of particular crimes. Prerequisites: Introduction to Law
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.
Debtor-Creditor Law – 3 credit hours (capstone elective)
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.
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.
E-discovery – 3 credit hours (general elective)
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.
Energy, Economics, and the Environment – 2 or 3 credit hours (general elective)
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.
Energy Law and Policy – 2 or 3 credit hours (general elective)
Energy Law and Policy examines the development and current status of energy law in the United States from a policy standpoint. Covering both fossil and renewable sources, the course uses case law and practical exercises to focus on energy transport and delivery systems and their regulation. Utility regulation and the current challenges facing that industry will also be covered in detail.
Environmental Dispute Resolution Practicum – 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 – 2 or 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.
Environmental Science for Lawyers – 2 credit hours (general elective)
Environmental Science for Lawyers will explore the basic scientific knowledge lawyers need to understand and apply the law to environmental issues. This 2-credit course will address air pollution chemistry, water pollution chemistry, energy sources, and biological systems. For each subject, reading assignments, lecture, group projects, and discussion will allow students to develop a well-rounded background in the basic scientific concepts behind the laws that regulate our environment. Material will be taught at a level appropriate to students of varying backgrounds. Students will be evaluated on their ability to both understand the basic scientific concept taught and to apply those concepts to relevant law and fact patterns.
Estate Planning – 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: Estates and Trusts
Estates and Trusts – 4 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
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 – 3 credit hours (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 – 4 credit hours (practicum)
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. 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 by the Curriculum Committee.
Insurance Law Practice – 4 credit hours (practicum)
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.
Introduction to Immigration & Citizenship Law – 2 credit hours (general elective)
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.
Introduction to Law (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.
Introduction to Natural Resources Law – 3 credit hours (general elective)
This course introduces students to ASL’s various natural resources law offerings, both to provide a broad base of knowledge to interested students and to inform students who may be considering the natural resources law certificate or master’s degree. The goal of the course is to familiarize students with the legal, business and environmental aspects of the natural resources law. Although broadly covering natural resources, the course will include a basic introduction to the U.S. legal and governmental system relating to environmental, natural resource and energy laws, including hard mineral law, oil and gas law, water law, environmental law, energy policy, land use law, renewable energy law and issues related to climate change and sustainability.
Juvenile Law – 2 credit hours (seminar)
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 of Governance, Risk Managements, and Compliance – 2 credit hours (seminar)
This is a seminar course in which students will consider the current status of the law regarding various controversial issues involving 1) corporate governance; 2) corporate compliance with generally accepted ethical standards, internal rules & standards of conduct, and government regulation; and 3) risk management. For each issue examined, the course will challenge students to contemplate, identify, and propose alternative approaches. Students are required to complete an original expository and/or argumentative research paper on a single topic from one of the three broad areas listed; such topic to be chosen in consultation with the instructor. The objectives of the course are 1) to deepen the students’ understanding of how corporations actually function; 2) to improve and sharpen students’ critical thinking, research, and writing skills; 3) to better prepare students to function effectively as corporate counsel; counsel to individuals or businesses harmed by corporate action related to these issues; a state or federal agency regulator; a local, state or federal lawmaker; or as a state or federal judge.
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 Office Management – 4 credit hours (practicum)
This course is designed to provide 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 rather than litigation documents. The course includes practice exercises simulating work with clients and the legal & ethical obligations of lawyers. Topics covered include Trust Accounts, Professional Responsibility, Compensation, Billing, Fees, Business Development and related issues.
Law Office 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 and Strategies for Success – 4 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. The Strategies for Success component of this course 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.
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.
Mineral Title Search and Examination – 2 credit hours (general elective)
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 (seminar or general elective)
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.
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.
Oil and Gas Law – 2 or 3 credit hours (capstone elective)
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.
Practice before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – 2 credit hours (general elective)
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulates certain aspects of the natural gas, electric utility, hydroelectric, and oil pipeline industries. This 2-credit online course will give a practical overview of FERC’s substantive regulation and internal procedures. It will cover the governing statutes, FERC’s rules of practice and procedure, rehearing and appellate review of administrative decisions, the history of federal regulation of the natural gas industry, the import and export of liquefied natural gas, rulemaking for natural gas pipelines, natural gas jurisdictional issues, regulation of public utilities, FERC’s electric restructuring agenda, hydroelectric rulemaking, and regulation of oil pipelines.
The course will rely extensively on guest appearances by FERC employees and lawyers who practice before the FERC. Students will read assigned chapters from a short treatise, listen to online presentations given by the instructor, interact with guest speakers, research a topic of their choice, and — during the final week –give a presentation.
• To give students the background required to practice energy law at the federal regulatory level whether as a law firm associate, judicial clerk, or in-house lawyer for an energy company.
• To give students a guide for deeper research into FERC-related issues.
• To make students aware of resources available to research FERC-related issues, including industry newsletters.
• To give students additional practice at speaking before a group using effective power point slides.
• To satisfy one of the requirements of the Natural Resources Certificate Program.
• To give students an online option for meeting graduation requirements.
Prerequisite: Course is only open to students who have accumulated 28 credits before taking the course.
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. Prerequisite: Introduction to Law
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. Prerequisites: Introduction to Law
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
Regulation of Energy Markets and Utilities – 2 credit hours (capstone elective)
This course will familiarize and provide the students with insight to state and federal utility law and regulation. The students will examine state and federal regulations as well as governmental power over electric, natural gas and oil markets. Students will explore and study administrative law issues, regulatory agencies, and the role of regulation.
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.
Secured Transactions & Payment Systems – 4 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
Sustainable Energy Law Practicum – 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.
The Law of Renewables – 2 credit hours (seminar)
Examines the laws and policies designed to promote renewable energy development. Students review existing renewable energy technologies and the practical limitations on their development, siting and integration into the U.S. electricity grid. Students then explore the dominant renewable energy laws, including subsidies and tax credits, renewable portfolio standards, feed-in tariffs and net metering. While the primary focus is the regulation and development of renewable energy projects, students also explore the renewable energy policy arena and its implications, and the mechanics and issues associated with financing energy projects. Finally, the course also addresses legal, policy and economic and financing issues associated with the expansion and improvement of the transmission grid to support renewable energy development. While the focus is on renewable energy development in the U.S., some comparative examples of renewable energy policies used in other countries will be considered.
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 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.
Water Resource Law – 2 credit hours (seminar)
Examines regulation of water systems by states and the federal government. Water is arguably our most important natural resource. This course explores increasing water scarcity, degraded water quality, stresses to watersheds, and public water supply issues stemming from aging infrastructure, global issues like international trade, management of waters shared with Mexico or Canada, and global warming. Policies governing water allocation and conservation are some of the most critical in our society. Topics also include the public trust doctrine, water allocation, pollution control, floodplains and wetlands conservation, storm water controls, “factory farms,” endangered species preservation, and ecological restoration. When possible and relevant, speakers will be invited to present specific material to the class concerning current issues in water management and protection.