Lawyer Courses and Classes Overview

Lawyers are licensed professionals who provide legal counsel and may be specialized. Courses for lawyers are generally taken as part of a full degree program in law.

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Essential Information

Whether training to become a criminal lawyer, family lawyer or corporate lawyer, a 4-year college degree plus an additional three years of law school are required. Various law schools have different programs for their students, but most include a heavy course load along with clerkships, internships and supervised clinical work with actual clients. The typical degree lawyers earn is the Juris Doctor (J.D.), and the school conferring the degree usually needs to have American Bar Association (ABA) accreditation. Schools sometimes offer programs that allow students to specialize in an area that might include business law, criminal justice or international law.

The first year of a law school program usually includes courses in legal writing and constitutional law. Other topics students might learn about include international law, criminal law, property law and business law. Later courses in a law program teach students to negotiate and resolve disputes, deal with ethical issues that arise in the law profession and examine evidence that is used in trials. Students also take any courses related to their chosen concentration. The later part of a law program usually also involves extensive research and clinical practice. Students might do internships at law firms or participate in mock trials at their school.

After graduating from a law school program, aspiring lawyers usually need to get licensed. This involves completing written bar exams in the state where one wishes to practice. After gaining licensure, lawyers must complete continuing education courses.

List of Lawyer Courses

Descriptions of several common law school program courses are shown below.

Legal Writing Course

This course will cover the fundamentals of legal analysis and objective and persuasive legal writing. Writing and editing skills for briefs, memoranda, letters of intent and contracts are also emphasized in this course, along with other transactional texts. Law students learn how to draft argument-winning documents, sway clients and bolster their critical thinking. Legal writing courses are often required in the first year of a law program.

Constitutional Law Course

This course requires students to dissect hypothetical cases while looking at legislative history. Law students will learn how to apply and construct the United States Constitution toward federal and state governments. Colleague collaboration, theoretical readings and class discussion are also a key part of this course.

Negotiation Course

In this class, students learn the art of negotiation, effective communication and dispute resolution with a focus on winning and a winner's mentality. Students are taught practical skills and techniques needed for successful negotiation, mediation and arbitration and the differences between them. These lawyer classes usually implement lectures, interactive exercises, in-depth class discussions and guest speakers. This course also focuses on the strategies customarily used by lawyers today and the following of constitutional law.

Professional Responsibility Course

In the second year of law school, students usually take a professional responsibility course to examine anticipated relationships between their clients, colleagues and the judicial system. A look at the varying state rules for professional conduct, based on the American Bar Association, is also a part of this course. Professors cover the laws binding lawyers and the ethical dilemmas lawyers often face.

Evidence Law Course

In this course students will learn how to examine real and demonstrative evidence needed for trial and other evidentiary hearings. Students learn the Federal Rules of Evidence composed of character evidence, common behavior, impeachments, relevance, burdens of proof, presumptions, and judicial notice. Evidence lawyer courses are usually taken in the second year of law school.

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    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
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      • Legal Research and Professional Studies
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    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
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    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
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