To become good lawyers, it is not enough for students to learn the fundamental principles of the law: law students also need to learn the process for analyzing the law. This process includes identifying and extracting rules from court decisions, understanding how those rules are structured, and learning how to apply those rules to a specific fact situation. This legal analysis can be used for prediction (to accurately predict the outcome of a client’s problem) or for persuasion (to persuade a court of the correctness of the result being sought for the client).
Many legal educators refer to this approach to legal problem-solving as “legal method,” and that term is used at Widener for the courses in which those skills are taught.
While legal analysis is the basis for any Legal Methods course, students also learn much more. Lawyers must be able to communicate their analysis to clients, courts, and other lawyers. Therefore, students in Legal Methods classes also learn about written and oral communication, with a primary focus on legal writing. Because lawyers are always learning new areas of the law, legal research is another key skill taught in Legal Methods classes.
On both the Harrisburg and Wilmington campuses, students take Legal Methods both semesters of their first year. First year Legal Methods classes are smaller than other first year courses to allow our faculty
to work more closely with students as they acquire these important skills. In addition, students take a third semester of Legal Methods some time in their second year of law school. The Legal Methods III curriculum on both campuses reinforces and builds on these fundamental skills.