Berkeley Law offers a range of courses explicitly designed to introduce students to the theory and practice of professional lawyering skills. Professional skills are those skills generally regarded as necessary for effective, responsible and reflective participation in the legal profession. Professional skills include legal research and professional writing skills, counseling skills, interviewing skills, litigation skills, transactional skills, negotiation skills, mediation skills, legal drafting skills, legal problem solving skills, legislative drafting and lobbying skills, and other legal practice skills. Professional skills courses teach these skills in multiple ways, but always include using experiential learning techniques, including actual or simulated client representation.
Beginning with the 2010 fall entering class, all students must take a professional skills course, a live-client clinic, or a field placement, in their second or third year.
The required First-Year Skills Program includes the Legal Research and Writing course, which is taught in the fall and introduces students to the basics of the court system, how to read cases, how to locate and select precedent, and how to write an objective legal memorandum. In the spring, students take the Written and Oral Advocacy course, which teaches further research techniques, persuasive writing skills, and how to write a brief to the court. Students then argue their position in front of a judge in a moot court setting.
A wide range of Elective Skills Courses are available to 2Ls and 3Ls. In these courses, students receive instruction, prepare and perform their role-play exercises, and then receive substantial feedback. Many of Berkeley Law’s skills courses are taught by experienced practitioners; others are taught by lecturers in residence. These classes are usually smaller-sized, and require a different kind of preparation and participation than traditional classroom courses.
Berkeley Law also sponsors various competitions, including the James Patterson McBaine Honors Moot Court Competition and external advocacy competitions.