Berkeley Law’s Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing Program relies upon contextual problem solving to teach students how to understand, research and analyze legal issues, and how to present their analysis through effective legal writing and oral argument. In a small class setting, students learn what legal writing is, how it differs from other forms of writing, and how to write to serve clients’ varying needs.
Students are taught by full-time faculty who bring significant teaching and practical experience to the classroom. Faculty come from senior levels of private practice, public interest organizations, government, and the court system. Faculty work with their students for both semesters of the students’ first year. This continuity of instruction allows faculty to provide highly individualized feedback to students. The small class size gives students the opportunity to develop strong mentoring relationships with faculty.
Berkeley Law’s Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing Program relies upon case simulations to teach lawyering skills. Students work on legal problems that are realistic fact scenarios. For each problem, students represent a client with specific issues and goals. Students learn to analyze and extract relevant evidence from a case file, in the same way they would in the workplace. Students then research and learn the substantive law that relates to each problem, testing their substantive understanding through group presentations and simulation exercises. Students work both collaboratively and independently.
During the Fall Semester (LRW, or Legal Research and Writing), students learn legal reasoning, research skills, and predictive legal writing. For each project, students research the law relevant to a hypothetical dispute and predict how a court would apply the law to specific facts. Students engage in increasingly complex written analyses, using more sophisticated techniques as the semester progresses. Meanwhile, students improve their legal research skills as they explore new research techniques and sources with each writing assignment and through separate research exercises. Students receive detailed written feedback on their work and further review those comments during individual conferences. Second and third-year law students who serve as teaching assistants are available to provide students additional support.
During the Spring Semester (WOA, or Written and Oral Advocacy), students learn persuasive writing and oral advocacy. WOA builds on the research, analysis, and writing skills introduced in the first semester. Students research a complex legal issue and write a persuasive trial court brief on behalf of the client they are assigned to represent. As in the Fall, students find, analyze and analogize to case law, and receive individualized feedback. Classroom exercises and practice hearings prepare students ultimately to argue the matter against a student representing the opposing side. The skills students learn in LRW and WOA transfer to other contexts that demand efficient and comprehensive legal research, clear legal analysis, excellent writing, and effective advocacy.