Practice Skills Courses

Mastering the Fundamental Elements of Legal Practice

Preparing for a career in the law begins with mastering fundamental skills necessary for successful practice. The College of Law's comprehensive approach to skills training includes a variety of courses that simulate practice in both courtroom litigation and alternative dispute resolution to integrate both the theoretical and practical aspects of a well-rounded legal education.

You can also expand on your skills through participation in a variety of intramural, regional and national student competitions.

Persuasive communication is the fundamental skill of the effective advocate. In this required course you learn the traditional analytical and writing skills of a first-year legal writing course, culminating in an oral argument.

These two required courses introduce you to the process of legal research and legal research strategy. In BLR I, you begin with analyzing a factual situation as a basis for developing a research strategy, then learn how to locate and use secondary sources, case law, statutory and legislative history material, administrative regulations and citators at the federal and Illinois/state level. BLR II introduces you to more advanced sources, research methods and strategies, including cost-effective research skills.

This required course is taken in the second year and emphasizes a client-centered approach to representation. Using a small group setting, you engage in the simulated representation of a client from the day the client first walks into the attorney’s office up to a pre-trial settlement conference. You prepare many of the written documents required by a practitioner, including pleadings, written discovery, motion and order, settlement agreement, and client correspondence. You also participate in a variety of simulations that are videotaped for critique by the instructor in one-on-one consultations.

Taught by experienced members of the full-time faculty, trial practitioners and the judiciary, this course exposes you to the day-to day courtroom skills utilized by trial attorneys. You learn to make an opening statement and closing argument, to conduct direct and cross-examination of witnesses and to introduce physical evidence. The course culminates with the your participation in a full trial.

Prerequisite: Evidence (Law 655)

Building on the fundamental skills learned in Trial Advocacy, you will engage in a series of simulated trial exercises in which you refine the presentation of evidence and examination of witnesses, with significant emphasis on scientific/medical proof and the art of cross-examining difficult witnesses and experts. Jury selection, effective use of jury instructions and effective presentation of evidence using modern technology are also stressed.

Prerequisite: Trial Advocacy (Law 725).

You will have the opportunity to refine your skills of issue identification, case analysis, legal writing and oral argument in Appellate Advocacy. Taught in conjunction with attorneys from offices of the Illinois Appellate Defender, you will review actual appellate records and prepare both written and oral arguments. 

Alternative methods of dispute resolution are increasingly relied upon in today's world. This course examines the theory and practice of mediation from the perspectives of the mediator, attorney and party, combining traditional classroom teaching with simulated exercises in which you engage in mediations.