First Year Courses
Temple Law introduces students to experiential learning and skills-based courses within the first few weeks of classes. Not only does the first year curriculum provide students with an understanding of the relationship between law and society, an introduction to legal and procedural concepts, and a commitment to ethical conduct and professional responsibility; it also includes a number of courses that integrate traditional substantive law with innovative hands-on learning opportunities.
Litigation Basics is a one credit course taken in the first semester that provides students an overview of the judicial system and the mechanics of litigation. The program is split into two parts. In the first, students develop techniques for reading and interpreting appellate judicial opinions and legislative enactments – two important sources of law that they will encounter not only in law school but throughout their legal careers. In the second, students explore and participate in a pair of hypothetical cases generated by a single event.
The hypothetical cases explored in Litigation Basics consist of one civil case and one criminal case. Students follow the path of each case from its inception, through the trial phase, to its eventual arrival at the appellate level. By following these cases through their entire lifecycle, students become familiar with the anatomy of a lawsuit and the basic procedural concepts that frame many other cases used in the first year curriculum. This portion of the course provides students with insight into how the facts of a case are developed, the roles of various actors in the legal process, and the methods utilized by lawyers in both the civil and criminal justice systems. The course also introduces students to the professional responsibility issues that arise in the course of litigation, and the practice of law in general.
Introduction to Transactional Skills
Introduction to Transactional Skills (ITS) is a two-week intensive course where first year students are exposed to the practice of transactional law. Students learn how to think like a transactional lawyer through lectures, small-group workshops, and a simulation where teams of two represent sides of a new partnership and work to navigate issues confronting a small business. The students learn to properly identify their client’s goals and work to negotiate, draft, and execute the documents necessary to accomplish those goals. The course develops strategic thinking, interviewing, negotiating, and drafting skills.
ITS departs from the tradition of limiting the first year curriculum to doctrinal courses and features an unprecedented degree of collaboration between faculty, technology, and outside practitioners. In the program capstone, first year students have the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned and get feedback on their work from practicing lawyers. Many students have identified this experience as the turning point after which they began to see themselves not just as law students, but as future lawyers.
Legal Research and Writing
Temple Law’s Legal Research and Writing curriculum serves as a model for many schools around the country and was among the first legal writing programs designed around the client problem. The intensive first year LRW course places students in the role of attorneys from the first day of class. Students immerse themselves in the real life context of their research and writing by solving client legal problems in a way that accurately reflects how they will work in summer jobs and later in practice. The problem solving nature of the course provides students a solid foundation in the essential lawyering skills that will enable them to confront their first jobs with confidence and provides critical insight into the human side of law practice. In the fall semester, students focus on finding the law and using it to predict how a client’s problem can be resolved. In the spring, the focus shifts to persuasion through written and oral advocacy. Throughout the course, students make use of the ever-growing array of legal research tools available to modern practitioners – including print, electronic, and open source resources.
A hallmark of Temple’s first year course is the close interaction between the students and the faculty made possible by small class sizes. Students meet one-on-one with their professors several times over the course of the year and frequently receive detailed feedback on their work.
Upper Level Courses
Every Temple Law student successfully completes at least one professional skills course in their second or third year of law school. As 2Ls, students have the opportunity to focus their attention on trial advocacy or transactional practice through theIntegrated Trial Advocacy (ITAP) and Integrated Transactional (ITP) programs. Those who choose not to enroll in an integrated program but are still interested in gaining experience in trial advocacy or transactional work can take free-standing courses in Introduction to Trial Advocacy (ITA), or Interviewing, Negotiating and Counseling.
Second and third year students may also select from among the 28 clinical courses offered at Temple. Clinicals offer a broad range of real-world trial, transactional and mediation experience. Upper level JD courses also provide a full spectrum of practical training opportunities including interviewing and counseling clients, drafting documents, litigation, trial work, and dispute resolution through non-litigation techniques.