Legal Practice Program: An Immediate Engagement in Developing Professional Skills
Michigan's Legal Practice Program provides each first-year student with individualized instruction in legal research, analysis, writing, and other skills necessary for the practice of law. The average class size is fewer than 25 students.
Students receive intensive interactive training from one of eight full-time and two part-time Legal Practice Professors, each with substantial practice experience and expertise in the craft of legal writing. Legal Practice Professors critique and grade students' assignments and hold individual conferences with every student to discuss their work and their progress in the course. Second- and third-year students serve as assistants for the professors and mentors for the students.
During the first semester, students consider what it means to be a lawyer in the role of counselor rather than in the role of advocate. They prepare several writing assignments, present written analyses of legal problems, and learn how to conduct legal research. During the second semester the focus shifts to an advocacy perspective. Students draft briefs for pretrial and trial motions and present oral arguments to a judge or panel of judges. In addition to instruction in oral advocacy, students receive instruction in other practice skills such as contract drafting and negotiation. This comprehensive approach gives students excellent preparation for success in their first summer jobs and beyond. For those with specialized writing interests, Michigan also offers several upper-level drafting or practicum courses including Transactional Drafting, Business Transactions, Securities Regulation, Bankruptcy, Negotiation, Appellate Practice, and Dispute Resolution.