Lawyering Program at Cornell Law School

The Lawyering Program

The Lawyering Program focuses on teaching the real-life skills employed by practicing attorneys. The program is comprised of six full-time faculty members, including a program director, who are devoted to the integration of theory into practice. These professors commonly teach other skills-related, upper-class courses as well. Members of the Lawyering faculty have recently published A Guide to Teaching Lawyering Skills, a book for professors that addresses all aspects of teaching the lawyering course.

Photo by Elizabeth K. Peck

Each first-year student is enrolled in the full-year lawyering course, which is taught in small sections. The course curriculum incorporates myriad lawyering skills, including legal writing, legal analysis, legal research, client counseling and interviewing, and oral presentation. Written assignments are set in the context of working in a simulated law office (or judge's chambers). Students' work is extensively critiqued (by the professor and teaching assistants), and regular professor-student conferences are the norm.

Photo by Elizabeth K. Peck

In the fall semester, students work primarily on predictive memoranda (memoranda that objectively analyze the merit of a potential or ongoing legal dispute) and an oral presentation. In the spring semester, students focus on preparing persuasive documents (those that might be submitted to a court). The spring semester of the course culminates with a moot-court argument, in which students orally argue the position taken in their written document.

Throughout the academic year, experienced law librarians teach the fundamentals of conducting legal research through both print and on-line resources. Various assignments, moreover, allow students to enhance and refine their research skills.

Photo by Elizabeth K. Peck

A notable part of the Lawyering Program is the component known as the Honors-Fellow Program. Each year, a small number of upper-class students are selected to serve as teaching assistants for the lawyering course. Honors Fellows, who receive both individual and group training, work closely with their professor and the first-year students. By all accounts, Honors Fellows not only greatly aid the first-year students but also benefit from a highly rewarding and immensely educational experience.