Berkeley Law’s Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing Program (LRAW) 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. 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 practice experience, as well as significant teaching experience, to the classroom. The Program’s faculty members worked in senior positions in private practice, for public interest organizations, and within the court system, and have since spent an average of more than ten years teaching. They work with their students for both semesters of the students’ first year. This continuity of instruction enables feedback to students that is highly individualized, and for mentoring relationships between students and faculty.
Berkeley Law’s Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing Program relies upon problem-solving to teach lawyering skills. Classes are taught as a series of simulations, which are based on the facts of real cases. For each problem, students represent a client with specific problems and goals, which students learn about through client interviews and case files. Students then research and learn the substantive law that relates to each problem, and test that substantive understanding through mock status reports to supervisors, group presentations and other simulation exercises. As problems increase in complexity over the course of the academic year, students analyze unsettled and developing areas of law, often with visits from practitioners to provide insight into the strategic considerations that can drive litigation. By focusing on clients to teach problem-solving, the Program prepares students to responsibly, effectively and efficiently serve real-world client needs.
During the Fall Semester (LRW, or Legal Research and Writing), students learn legal reasoning, research skills and predictive legal writing. Students complete three office memoranda that focus on questions of both state and federal law. Students receive detailed written feedback on their work, and further review those comments during individual conferences. During the Spring Semester (WOA, or Written and Oral Advocacy), students learn persuasive writing and oral advocacy. Students complete three drafts of a summary judgment brief. As in the fall, students must find, analyze and analogize to case law, and receive detailed feedback on their draft and final briefs. Classroom exercises and practice hearings prepare students ultimately to argue their positions against opposing counsel, with many students delivering their final argument in the Ninth Circuit’s historic courthouse in San Francisco.