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University of Cincinnati (College of Law)

In the early 1980s, the faculty developed the following Statement on the Academic Program at the College of Law. It has been reviewed and revised periodically, most recently, in March, 1997. The Statement on the Academic Program is divided into six parts: Objectives, Methods, First Year Curriculum, Second and Third Year Curriculum, the Bar Examination, and Course Groupings. The Statement was originally adopted and continues to be used to communicate to law students the purpose and design of the academic program leading to the JD degree. First year students will want to pay particular attention to Part III, which sets forth the learning objectives the faculty have endorsed for the first year of law school.

The purpose of the academic program at the University of Cincinnati College of Law is to provide its graduates with the opportunity to equip themselves for effective and creative participation in the roles lawyers play in our society. These roles include counselor, litigator, negotiator, drafter, advocate, and decision-maker in virtually all aspects of our society, public and private, civil and criminal. Lawyers� involvement in government at the local, state and federal levels in the executive, legislative, judicial, and administrative departments of government has been recognized repeatedly. Lawyers are also intimately involved in the multitude of affairs, including business and family, that constitutes our national life.

The College of Law recognizes that, in developing an academic program to enable its graduates to perform effectively as lawyers, it must provide them with a combination of substantive knowledge, ethical sensitivity, and analytical and practical skills that will enable them not only to function competently in the period immediately following admission to the bar, but also to grow and to adapt as the law and society develop, and the roles they play and the context in which they play them change over substantial periods of time. The College recognizes that to train lawyers to practice law only at one time, in one place, in a single context does not serve well either its graduates or the clients they represent.

The academic program at the College of Law is designed to reflect the philosophy that, at its best, legal education should broaden rather than narrow the intellectual and moral horizons of its graduates. It recognizes that the legal profession is a public profession in which the lawyer must be conscious of the broader implications of the law and the part he or she plays in administering it, as well as what may often be the narrower concerns of a particular client. It is not enough, for example, for the student to learn that a particular act is a crime or a tort or both. It is just as important for the student to consider why the act has been classified as one or the other or both, the effect of the classifications, the problems created by them, the effectiveness of the sanctions that flow from the classifications, and the effect of possible changes in the classifications. Often these inquiries will take the student beyond narrow legal considerations into broader areas of public policy, public and personal morality, as well as into examining the problem from the viewpoint of other academic disciplines. Consistent with this philosophy, the College of Law has established joint degree programs with the College of Business Administration, the School of Planning, and the Center for Women's Studies and the School of Social Work, and gives credit toward the J.D. degree for certain courses in other departments of the University of Cincinnati as well as in other academic institutions.

In summary, the goal of the College of Law is to educate lawyers who are both skilled professionals and socially aware public persons who look upon law school as the first step in the life-long process of legal education.

The pedagogic methods of the College of Law are as diverse as the number of persons on its faculty. Techniques of instruction are invariably mixed, ranging from the traditional "Socratic Method," in which the role of the professor is to pose questions and the students learn primarily from each other's responses, to the problem method, lecture, small group discussion in seminars, writing projects supervised by faculty or by students, representation of actual clients in clinical programs, simulation, and placement in various offices performing legal work, among others. Most of the teaching methods emphasize the self-development of the student's own abilities and interests, with the faculty serving as facilitators, as well as sources of substantive and procedural knowledge and skills expertise. Primary responsibility must, however, rest on the initiative of the individual student. Development of this individual initiative is particularly important because the law student of today will be practicing law well into the next century. The practice of law has, in the past two decades, undergone dramatic changes, and there is every likelihood that the pace of change will be even greater in the next quarter century. Every lawyer will have to engage in a continuous process of self-education to remain competent as a lawyer. The skills of self-education developed in law school are the foundation of that process.

In the first year all courses are required. This is in sharp contrast to the second and third years when only 2L Lawyering, a seminar, and a writing requirement are mandatory.

The purposes of the first year curriculum are to:

1. develop the skills necessary to read, understand, analyze and appraise court opinions and statutes;
2. introduce the methodology of legal reasoning in the development of common law precedent and the construction of statutes, including case synthesis;
3. develop conceptual competence in certain areas of substantive and procedural subjects which are necessary for an understanding of most upper level courses;
4. enhance written and oral communication skills and develop capabilities in legal research and advocacy;
5. familiarize the student with language and institutions of the law;
6. encourage thinking about the function of law in society and its relation to public policy; and
7. introduce the student to moral and ethical reasoning.

o accomplish these goals, the first year curriculum includes Contracts, Torts, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, and Property, which are primarily substantive, and Civil Procedure, which is a procedural course. These subject areas are the foundation of most of the upper level courses and provide the legal concepts essential to an understanding of our legal system. The first year curriculum also includes courses that are primarily concerned with skills or methodology -- Legal Research and Writing and Advocacy. All the courses, to some degree, involve both substantive knowledge and skills. Others, such as Constitutional Law and Criminal Law, also have major jurisprudential components.

To assist in the achievement of these goals, each first year student has at least two courses in the first semester in a small section of approximately 25 students -- one substantive course and Legal Research and Writing. In the small section courses personal attention by the professor and individual participation by the student are emphasized. Even in the other first year courses, however, classes rarely exceed 80 students and often are smaller. All of the substantive courses are designed to assist the students in developing the skills of reading and analyzing cases: how and why the courts develop common law through the use of precedent, and interpret and apply statutes. These skills are essential not only to the lawyer but to the law student. The first year curriculum also has students begin to learn the skill of advocacy and how to use case law and statutes in the preparation of written and oral arguments on behalf of a client. Problems used in both research and writing are drawn from the areas of substantive law covered in the first year.

After the first year, all courses are elective, with the exceptions of 2L Lawyering, a seminar requirement, and a writing requirement, which may be taken in either the second or third year. Two courses, Legal Drafting and Domestic Relations/Domestic Violence Clinic, are limited to third year students. All other courses may be taken either in the second or third years.

The fact that almost all upper level courses can be taken in either of the last two years of law school has created several problems. It is difficult for second year students to know the sequence in which courses should be taken. Without planning for many students, the third year may be essentially duplicative of the second year, and consequently less stimulating or valuable.

One response to these problems could be to prescribe much or all of the second year curriculum and to leave only the third year as elective. The faculty believes, however, that because of the diversity in the background that students bring to law school and the differences in their objectives in law school and after graduation, it is preferable to provide students with the rationale for each of the second and third years and to give guidance on the selection of courses. The latter is emphasized by suggesting groupings of courses according to several major subject areas, the proper sequencing of courses in those groupings, and the major factors students should take into consideration in developing a second- and third-year curriculum for themselves.

One area in which the faculty has imposed requirements for upper level students is in the area of writing skills. The writing program mandates that each student complete at least two writing experiences of designated types in the last two years of law school.

The major difference between the second and third year curriculum is that the former gives primarily (but not exclusively) breadth of coverage, while the third year is devoted primarily to in depth coverage of limited areas of subjects previously covered in an overview course and to courses that are lawyering- and process-oriented, including skills, problem, and planning courses. This is not to say that a course that concentrates on breadth coverage cannot or should not be taken in the third year. It is fully expected that there will be courses of both types taken in the second and third years. All that is intended to be conveyed by these characteristics is the difference in the principal objectives of the second and third years.

School name:University of CincinnatiCollege of Law
Address:Clifton Avenue & Calhoun Street
Zip & city:OH 45221 Ohio

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