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Legal Practice Skills

The Law School offers numerous courses that provide students with practical legal skills. These courses enhance skills in both litigation and transactional practice. Students learn the theoretical and practical frameworks of skills and deepen their understanding by participating in simulated exercises.

Interviewing, Negotiating and Counseling

This course emphasizes competence in dealing with clients and opposing attorneys. Students practice interviewing clients and witnesses and engage in negotiation of mock litigation and transactional cases.

Pretrial Practice and Depositions

Courses throughout the curriculum emphasize both formal and informal trial preparation, building on the basic interviewing and counseling skills, but also emphasizing drafting, discovery and motions.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Students learn ADR skills in several contexts: An introductory course surveys the basic methods of ADR, including negotiation, arbitration and mediation. Students participate in simulated exercises of the basic forms of ADR, with accompanying theoretical readings. The Law School also offers Labor Arbitration and Labor Arbitration Writing courses.

Counseling, Drafting and Negotiating Skills in Transactional Practice

We offer a basic course in contract drafting that develops the particular writing skills needed in drafting agreements of various kinds. Other courses are subject-matter specific. These courses include Divorce Negotiation Seminar, International Contracts Seminar, Pretrial Practice, Advanced Real Estate Drafting, and Interviewing, Negotiating and Counseling. These courses provide students with in-depth opportunities to develop their skills in more complex, yet focused, areas of the law.

Lawyering Skills in the First Year

Students develop additional legal practice skills in their first year in several courses, including Law in Practice (formerly Practice and Professionalism) and Legal Writing. In Civil Procedure courses, students draft legal pleadings, participate in exercises in pretrial discovery, and, in some cases, participate in a mediation or arbitration simulation. In the first-year Contracts course, students may negotiate part of a contract and learn to reduce their agreement to writing. In a Property course, students may negotiate and draft provisions of a residential or commercial lease.

Trial Practice Program

This hands-on program, taught in small sections by prominent federal and state trial court judges, teaches students trial skills, including procedures, tactics and persuasion. The performance-based curriculum includes weekly in-class and videotaped exercises. Students participate in sessions on jury selection, opening statements, direct and cross-examination of witnesses, expert testimony, introduction of evidence, objections, and closing arguments. The course concludes with a simulated trial before a real judge and a volunteer jury from the community.

Students can also take the Advanced Trial Practice course, which offers more complex cases than in the basic course as well as Appellate Advocacy. In our Advanced Evidence course, students work on complex evidentiary issues, and conduct mock arguments on issues of scientific evidence, expert testimony and computer-assisted evidentiary presentations.

Judicial Externship Program

Under this program, students can gain real-life experience with the federal district court, state appellate court, and state district courts in Minnesota by serving as part-time law clerks for academic credit. Students prepare research memoranda, observe judicial proceedings, and participate in drafting opinions and orders.

Corporate Externships

The corporate externship summer program provides immersion in the work environment of a corporate legal department.

Capstone Courses

The Law School offers Capstone Courses which integrate doctrinal instruction with skills and professional training. There are two types of capstone courses: simulation and policy development capstones.