Advanced Law Skills Program

University of Richmond School of Law is one of few law schools that offers a second-year of law skills training as part of the required curriculum.

Lawyering Skills III

In the fall semester of their second year, all students take Lawyering Skills III, which focuses on the skills required of lawyers in the litigation process. Through this course, students learn real-world legal skills during exercises where they act as counsel in litigation settings. For example, students practice arguing motions, taking depositions, and trying a case before a jury.

Lawyering Skills III is divided into three parts:

  1. The first six weeks cover the skills used in the process of case initiation, factual investigation, and discovery in civil litigation. Students review the written tools of the discovery process: interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and requests for admissions. Students negotiate discovery disputes and conduct hearings on discovery-related motions. Students take depositions.
  2. All students take part in an intensive trial advocacy workshop, which takes place over a weekend in October. In the workshop, students watch demonstrations, then practice the basic skills of trial advocacy, including the opening statement, closing argument, direct and cross-examination, impeachment, use of exhibits, and demonstrative evidence.
  3. Students conclude the semester by preparing for and conducting a jury trial. Every student serves as trial counsel in a two-person trial team.

Lawyering Skills IV

In the spring semester of the second year, students can choose between two Lawyering Skills IV options: Contract Drafting and Appellate Advocacy.

Contract Drafting

Contract Drafting is a transactional course in which students learn skills to apply contract law principles to the drafting of contracts. Through weekly writing exercises, students learn techniques to draft clear and accurate contracts and to effectively review contracts drafted by others.

The course begins with lessons in contract organization, categories of contract language, avoiding ambiguity, and drafting in plain English. Over the course of the semester, students are exposed to increasingly complex concepts, including representations and warranties, remedies, boilerplate provisions, and indemnification. To conclude the semester, students analyze a transaction, prepare an issues list, and negotiate and draft a full contract.

Appellate Advocacy

Appellate Advocacy is is designed to teach the skills required of advocates in appellate courts. Students participate in hands-on exercises that simulate the roles of lawyers representing parties during an appeal.

Class sessions are conducted as "law office" meetings where students meet with the instructor to analyze the trial court record, identify issues for appeal, discuss the results of research on those issues, outline arguments for an appellate brief, and edit portions of the brief.

Each student produces a draft appellate brief then meets individually with the instructor and a third-year teaching assistant to further edit and polish the brief before the student completes the final version.

During the last weeks of the semester, students prepare for and practice their oral arguments. The semester concludes with each student presenting his or her oral argument before a court, which typically consists of practicing lawyers and sitting judges from around the Richmond legal community.