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Being a student always means having to deal with loads of homework. This statement is true for all students, regardless of their academic level or the major they choose to study. However, while the scope of homework is about the same for everyone, the types of assignments can slightly vary depending on the subject that you study.
In this article, we are going to tell you about the four main homework types facing law students, in particular. So, if you are a law student yourself, read on to learn what will be expected of you in a law school.
The first and the most common of the four main homework types is practice homework. The core goal of such assignments is to help students expand their knowledge and reinforce their newly-acquired skills by means of putting them to practice. This kind of homework is the one that makes the most of the academic program, which is why law students struggle with it the most.
The most common assignment that represents this type of homework is essay writing. Just like the rest of their peers, law students are being assigned dozens of essays and other academic papers every year. A load of such assignments is so huge that students often look for the write my essay online writing services and platforms. But, it is an integral part of the educational process, so there is no way to avoid academic writing.
Some other examples of practice homework that you can face in a law school can include:
- Memorizing local laws;
- Reading court records;
- Examining subject-related literature, etc.
The second one of the four main homework types is extension homework. In a nutshell, this type of homework is used by professors to encourage their students to pursue knowledge individually and in ways that are more imaginative than simply reading a textbook. Also, extension assignments are used to help students connect what they learn in the classroom with real-life and apply their existing skills to expand their knowledge.
Common types of law assignments that represent this type of homework include:
- Writing literature reviews;
- Researching local law news;
- Compare and contrast events, etc.
Despite the fact that law students spend most of their time studying complex and serious subjects, there is still a place for the next type of homework – creative homework in their curriculums. As you can guess from its name, this type of homework often takes different creative forms. The key goal is to help students develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills through completing creative projects.
There are plenty of examples of creative homework assignments that you can face in a law school. Basically, pretty much any type of individual project can be considered a creative homework assignment. However, to help you grasp the idea, here are a few examples of the most common law assignments of this type:
- Research projects;
- Photo essays;
- PowerPoint presentations, etc.
Finally, the last of the four types of homework is preparatory homework. The key goal of such homework is to help students gain solid background on a specific unit of study in order to prepare them for future lessons. Simply put, preparatory homework is the type of homework that helps you collect initial knowledge on the subject you are studying. And it can also be called one of the most common types of assignments facing law and other students.
What assignments can be considered as preparatory homework? In fact, there are many. To name a few, here are some of the most common examples of this type of homework:
- Tests and exams;
- Completing exercises from the workbook;
- Reading textbook chapters to prepare for the next lesson, test, discussion, etc.
The Bottom Line
Whether you are just planning to enroll in a law school or are already a law student, knowing about different types of homework that you will have to deal with can empower you for better academic achievements.
After reading this article, you should have a better idea of different homework types that you can face studying in a law school. Hopefully, this will help you prepare for your academic path and ensure success.
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Design your education.
At UW Law School, we want our students to design their education in a way that caters to their passions and fulfills their professional goals.
Our students have many opportunities to experience our long-standing law-in-action tradition, which empowers them to navigate as successful lawyers in an increasingly complex, competitive and challenging world.
Incorporated throughout our extensive curriculum, this law-in-action philosophy places an emphasis on the dynamics of the law, meaning:
- how the law both reflects and causes social change, and
- how the law as it is practiced can differ from the law described in the statutes.
Our full-time first-year program is designed to teach the fundamentals of legal analysis and reasoning, as well as legal research and writing, in a supportive setting.
First Semester (15 credits)
- Contracts (4 credits)
- Criminal Law & Procedure (4 credits)
- Civil Procedure (4 credits)
- Legal Research & Writing (3 credits)
Second Semester (15 Credits)
- Property (4 credits)
- Torts (4 credits)
- Constitutional Law (4 credits)
- Legal Research & Writing II (3 credits)
2L & 3L Curriculum
In your 2L & 3L years of law school, you will have time both to explore the curriculum to determine where your interests lie and to develop the lawyering skills you will need when you graduate.
The graduation requirements and Wisconsin Diploma Privilege requirements will guide some of your course selection, but your schedule will largely be filled with electives in your 2L & 3L years. You will get to choose from an extraordinary breadth and depth of course offerings, affording you the opportunity to explore cutting-edge legal issues in the classroom and to apply your knowledge in one of our many clinical programs.
For general guidance on course selection, see Planning Your Academic Program , which includes:
- Principles of course selection
- How to select courses
- Five approaches to selecting courses
- Sequence of courses
- Study Abroad
- Faculty connections
- Areas of practice
To plan a personalized curriculum plan, reach out to our Academic Advisor Angela Nash .
Part-time students must complete the first-year curriculum within two years of entering and must complete the course work required for the J.D. degree within six years. First-year courses generally require you to be on campus four or five times per week and some are offered in the late afternoon or early evening.
Part-time students wishing to take courses only in the late afternoon or early evening should note that one-half of the first-year program courses are generally offered later in the day in alternate years, thus making it easier to complete the first-year program within the requisite two years.
For more information about going part-time, see:
- Student Handbook 2.1.1: First-Year Part-Time Schedules
- Student Handbook 10.3: Special Issues for Part-Time Students
Legal Research & Writing
1L students gain intensive legal research and writing experience in their first year at UW Law School, while upper-level students build on that foundation with advanced courses.
For more information, view the Legal Research & Writing program .
Experiential learning provides hands-on experience and facilitates the development of practical skills, judgment and professional identity. The end goal of experiential learning is to equip our students to hit the ground running as a new lawyer.
For more information, view all Experiential Learning programs or jump directly to a particular program:
- Clinical Programs
- Lawyering Skills Course
- Pro Bono Program
Student Learning Outcomes
At the University of Wisconsin Law School, we are committed to providing our students with the skills and knowledge needed to be excellent lawyers. Our long-standing law-in-action tradition in particular empowers our graduates to navigate an increasingly complex, competitive and challenging world.
The UW Law School faculty have established the following learning outcomes that we expect our students to attain by graduation:
- Students will demonstrate competency in their knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law.
- Students will demonstrate competency in legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication appropriate for a variety of legal contexts.
- Students will demonstrate competency in their awareness of ethical dilemmas likely to arise in legal practice and in their capability to identify and use legal and other resources that will lead to effective resolution of these dilemmas.
- Students will demonstrate competency in other professional skills needed as a member of the legal profession.
- Students will understand the concept of the law-in-action, including the procedures and social forces that influence legal outcomes and that affect the ability of legal professionals to represent clients and to create effective law.
Areas of study curriculum guides.
The areas of study curriculum guides are for students who have an interest in a particular area of practice and would like more guidance in developing an academic program targeted at that area of practice.
These guides contain recommendations, not requirements. There is no single correct plan or program, and there are many differing opinions as to the type and number of courses that should be taken.
- Antitrust & Trade Regulation
- Administrative & Regulatory Law
- Appellate Practice
- Bankruptcy Law
- Business, Corporate, & Commercial Law
- Children's Law
- Civil Litigation & Dispute Resolution
- Criminal Law
- Environmental Law
- Estate Planning & Elder Law
- Family Law & Divorce
- General Practice
- Immigration Law
- Intellectual Property
- International & Comparative Law
- Labor & Employment Law
- Municipal & Local Government Law
- Public Interest Law
- Real Estate Law
The UW Law School faculty has established Curricular Concentrations in several areas of studies. Qualifying students are given a document reflecting the curricular achievement, though these do not qualify as certificate programs.
- Business Law Concentration
- Criminal Law Concentration
- Family Law Concentration
- Estate Planning Concentration
- International & Comparative Law Concentration
- Labor & Employment Law Concentration
- Real Estate Law Concentration
Directed Research & Directed Reading
Directed Research and Directed Reading are independent studies that afford students the opportunity to explore their unique interests and legal issues one-on-one with a faculty member. The scope of the independent study must be agreed upon in advance by the student and the supervising faculty.
Directed research will result in the production of a research paper; a student’s directed reading will be tested by some form of written work.
Directed reading and directed research are governed by Law School Rule 3.13 . Note that no more than eight credits of directed reading and six credits of directed research can be applied to the 90 credits required for the J.D. degree .
For more information, see the Student Handbook 2.3.11: Directed Research & Directed Reading .
International Law Program & Study Abroad
The Law School hosts international students and professors, bringing diverse international perspectives to the classroom, and the university has one of the largest groups of international students in the country.
You can also study at one of the many foreign law schools with which the Law School has exchange agreements, create your own foreign study program, or participate in the foreign study programs of other U.S. law schools.
For more information, view International Law Program & Study Abroad options .
The Law School offers two interdisciplinary certificate programs that provide an opportunity for concentrated study, but do not involve an additional degree:
- Certificate in Healthy Advocacy
- Certificate in Russian Area Studies
There are also certificates available to the wider University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student population, including Law students:
- Certificate in Entrepreneurship
- Certificate in Strategic Innovation
- Certificate in Business, Environment & Social Responsibility (BESR)
For more information see the Certificate Programs .
Dual Degree Programs
The opportunities for graduate study beyond a law degree are particularly rich at the University of Wisconsin. The UW Law School offers dual degree opportunities in conjunction with master's and doctoral programs on the campus.
The Law School has established programs with:
- La Follette School of Public Affairs
- Wisconsin School of Business
- Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program
- Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
- Department of Philosophy
- Department of Political Science
- Department of Sociology and Rural Sociology
- School of Library and Information Studies
- Master of Public Health Program
- Neuroscience and Public Policy Program
For more information about requirements, tuitions, and more, see the Dual Degree Programs .
Of the 90 credits required for the J.D. degree, law students are allowed to apply up to six credits of graduate level or foreign language course work completed at other schools at the University ( Law School Rule 3.08 ).
For more information on how to do this, see the Student Handbook 2.5: Non-Law Courses .
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Bachelor of Arts
Top 25 Public Flagship University & #10 Best Online Bachelor's Program in the Nation
- U.S. News & World Report, 2024
The First Bachelor of Arts in Law in the Nation
College of social and behavioral sciences and the college of law.
The Bachelor of Arts in Law degree–a first-of-its-kind program available at the University of Arizona–is a result of a unique partnership between the James E. Rogers College of Law and the School of Government and Public Policy at the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. As one of the nation's most proven and trusted BA Law degrees, this program will teach you to "think like a lawyer" when solving problems and developing arguments. You will learn foundational aspects of law, such as criminal and civil procedure, contracts, and torts, as well as competency in key jurisprudential concepts, doctrines, and theories relevant to the common law.
How does our BA in Law differ from pre-law? Pre-law students are taught essential skills and subjects, but their exposure to law and legal topics is limited. In contrast, as a BA in Law student, you gain in-depth knowledge of criminal law, constitutional law, contracts, property, procedure, and more. These are the same subjects studied by students in Juris Doctor (JD) programs. Additionally, these subjects are taught by leading legal professors, scholars and practitioners using the same pedagogy developed to teach law students but tailored for the undergraduate experience.
The BA in Law empowers you to get a jump-start on your career as a legislative and regulatory affairs analyst, mediator, foreign service officer, related personnel legal translator, or legal advocate, to name a few. By earning this degree, you may also qualify for an accelerated path to law school or the University's accelerated master's option, where you can earn a Master of Legal Studies in just one extra semester. You also have the opportunity to choose a coursework track that prepares you to pursue a license as a Legal Paraprofessional and qualifies you to sit for the Arizona state exam.
With a BA in Law in hand, you can go on to attend a JD program to become a lawyer or enter many other legal professions directly after graduating. If you are passionate about studying law, the BA in Law may be a great option.
This College of Social and Behavioral Sciences major requires a minor (or double major).
You may work with James E. Rogers College of Law faculty to identify internship opportunities wherever you are located.
*Residents of some U.S. Territories may not be eligible. Please see our Eligibility & State Authorization page for more information.
The curriculum for this program includes but is not limited to such courses as:
LAW 451: Introduction to Public International Law
This course on public international law will introduce subjects including the use of force and allies, terrorism, principal organizations, concepts of sovereignty, treaties, climate change, statehood and territoriality, mitigating world poverty, the bases for jurisdiction, and state responsibility. The course will also explore international human rights, environmental law and economic law.
LAW 454: Environmental Law and Policy
This is a foundational course in environmental law and regulatory policy. The course will focus on the concepts underlying approaches to protecting the environment, using the common law and various environmental statutes primarily as examples of the different approaches to environmental protection.
POL 309: The Judicial Process
This course will dive into analyzing the structure, function, and processes of the "third branch" of the American government; the judicial system and process.
POL 470: Constitutional Law: Federalism
This course focuses on the development and analysis of constitutional law of the U.S.; problems of distribution of powers
LAW 401: Procedure
This course explores the legal process and procedures followed in our systems of civil and criminal justice. Topics include the components of due process, the adversarial system, stages of a case, and the roles of attorneys, judges, prosecutors, and professional ethics, and the core elements of civil and criminal procedure.
Law 453: Immigration Law and Policy
This course will introduce students to the basic legal and administrative structure of the U.S. immigration system. We will consider how the law determines who may enter the country lawfully, what rights immigrants have once in the country, and on what grounds they can be forced to leave and return to their home countries. As the class progresses, we will build on this legal framework to consider several of the policy debates regarding immigration that currently embroil the nation.
LAW 404: The American Public Law System
This course will introduce you to the foundation of public law and the distinctive modes of argument lawyers and judges employ in shaping that law for the future. Subjects covered include the constitutional law of federalism; executive power, including presidential war powers and the role of administrative agencies; and civil liberties, with particular emphasis on the freedom of speech.
LAW 407: Legal Analysis, Writing and Research
You will learn how to find legal authorities relevant to legal problems, how to analyze a legal issue using facts and law and how to communicate legal analysis logically and concisely. This course consists of research exercises and more complex research and writing assignments. You will work in groups and individually to learn the fundamentals of good writing and editing skills.
LAW 440A: Introduction to Human Rights Law
In this survey course on human rights law, you will gain a foundation in sources of law, enforcement mechanisms, and fundamental human rights derived from international law. Using case studies, decisions and commentary by governmental and non-governmental bodies, scholarly writings, and policy work and featuring human rights advocates and experts, this course will provide you with a basic understanding of human rights legal principles and processes to enable you to apply these concepts to current events and human rights abuses occurring globally.
LAW 453: Introduction to Immigration Law and Policy
This course will introduce you to the basic legal and administrative structure of the U.S. immigration system. We will consider how the law determines who may enter the country lawfully, what rights immigrants have once in the country, and on what grounds they can be forced to leave and return to their home countries. We will build on this legal framework to consider several of the policy debates regarding immigration that currently embroil the nation. In discussing possible policy reforms, we will consider a broad range of perspectives, drawing on academic scholarship, policy research, and judicial opinions that capture views across the political spectrum.
LAW 456: Family Law
This course will explore the relationship between modern American law and the oldest and most basic societal association - the family. We will look at how the law deals with evolving concepts of family, with the intersection of religion and law as it relates to family, and with the government's interest in particular families and in particular aspects of family life. We will look at marriage, children, family ownership of property and what happens when families break up. We will also pay extra attention to situations where the government has set (or has tried to set) the rules of family life - i.e. laws.
LAW 458: Introduction to Criminal Law
This course will concentrate on the fundamental concepts of substantive criminal law. You will be engaged in analysis and discussion of theories of punishment and the basic elements of criminal liability and responsibility. The course will cover criminal offenses, defenses to criminal liability and related policy arguments. Topical subjects as mandatory sentencing, capital punishment and the insanity defense will be examined. You will participate in classroom role playing as advocates on topical criminal law subjects such as the duty to retreat and "stand your ground."
Earning your Bachelor of Arts in Law will build core skills, including:
- Analysis of complex ideas
- Composing legal or policy briefs and papers
- Critical thinking
- Evaluating data
- High-level research and writing
- Persuasion and presentation
- Thinking like a lawyer
- Compliance and regulatory affairs
- Understanding legal doctrine and procedures
The BA in Law curriculum prepares you for a wide variety of careers, both directly with the legal profession and in the many fields involving law, regulation, negotiation, advocacy and risk management.
Although many BA in Law students go on to law school and a career as a lawyer, many other career paths are available. In addition to the careers found in the outcomes explorer below, typical careers that BA in Law graduates pursue include (but are not limited to):
- Legislative and regulatory affairs analysts
- Human resources representatives
- Federal, state, and local law enforcement officers
- Public relations officers
- Non-governmental organization and nonprofit advocates
- Foreign service officers and related personnel legal translators
- Anti-money laundering analysts
- Contract administrators
- Tribal affairs specialists
- Legal advocate
Become a Licensed Legal Paraprofessional
If you are interested in becoming a licensed Legal Paraprofessional, you have the option of completing the Legal Paraprofessional (LP) Certificate as an additional credential to your BA in LA degree.
The Legal Paraprofessional profession is new, and the levels of education allowed by the governing code vary. Earning an LP Certificate as an additional credential to your BA in Law degree enables you to enhance your coursework and skill level, and differentiate yourself in a competitive job market.
Student Experience Careers in Law, Politics, Government and Beyond
The BA in Law offers a rare opportunity for undergraduates to pursue rigorous legal training. Graduate Amanda Higby shares details about the program and what it is like to be a part-time student while working full time.
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What Are Law School Classes Really Like?
You already know law school is challenging and fast-paced. Chances are you're prepared to tackle your law school classes with gusto. But, you may have questions about the amount of study time you'll need outside of class or wonder if you can fade into the background during a lecture. Learn what law school classes are really like by exploring answers to these questions and more.
What Is the Method of Instruction?
Law school classes aim to immerse students in both doctrine and practice, allowing students to develop legal and analytical skills. For instance, law school courses zero in on your application of knowledge and long-term memory. Professors often use the case method, sometimes in combination with the Socratic teaching method (see below for more on these). Nearly everything you learn in law school is relevant in future courses.
In contrast, undergraduate schools focus on memorization and critical thinking skills. Professors rely on didactic teaching methods such as lectures or instructional courses. Some classes and concepts may not apply to your major.
Moreover, law schools provide experiential learning experiences, including law clinics, externships, moot court, and skills courses. Gaining experience during law school allows you to gain practical skills and the confidence to tackle tough cases in real life.
The Case Method
The Case Method is a well-known law school teaching practice. This approach makes students look at judicial opinions resulting in legal rules. During class, law professors may involve everyone in discussions about why and how judges made decisions. These discussions are frequently conducted using the Socratic method.
The Socratic Method
The Socratic Method can be unnerving. Professors may cold-call you, ask you to apply a specific legal rule or adapt your answer based on new facts, and press you to defend your answer. Law schools employ this active-learning method to bolster students’ public speaking skills and to encourage critical thinking by helping students identify the most compelling arguments on both sides of legal questions.
After all, with fact-dependent material, a slight change in a legal situation may result in different outcomes or a need for a distinct approach. Knowing how to adapt your argument based on legal rules alongside theories and presumptions prepares you to practice law.
What Class Sizes Can I Expect?
Although most law schools use similar teaching methods, class sizes can differ dramatically. For example, at ONU Law, the 2020-2021 incoming class size is 61 students. Smaller class sizes may provide more individualized attention and opportunities to a higher number of students.
What Are Learning Outcomes?
The American Bar Association (ABA), under Standard 302, requires all law schools to develop a set of learning outcomes. Law schools interpret the following ABA minimum competencies to form school-specific outcomes:
- Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law
- Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context
- Exercise of proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system
- Other professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession
ONU Law Learning Outcomes
ONU Law equips students to practice law by giving them the foundation required to understand and analyze difficult issues. Moreover, students learn how to apply their skills and talents in various situations to advocate for their clients. There are six learning outcomes at ONU Law that require students to demonstrate proficiency in:
- Substantive and procedural law
- Legal research
- Legal analysis and problem-solving
- Effective written and oral communications
- Proper professional and ethical responsibilities to the clients and the legal system
- Legal practice skills
What Are Assignments Like in Law School?
Like everything in law school, assignments are meant to instill your understanding of the rule of law and teach you how to draw your conclusions based on the facts and precedents. Accordingly, homework tends to focus on reading casebooks and statutes to learn legal doctrines.
As part of your assignment, you'll be expected to read and comprehend individual court cases and notes from the author or editor. Assignments may range from 40 pages to 100 pages of reading per class per week.
How Much Preparation Do I Need Before Class?
In short, a lot. Unlike in undergraduate school, law students spend countless hours preparing for classroom instruction. Along with reading around 100 pages a week per class, you'll want to review your notes and create outlines. Plus, many law students find they need to read the same material a few times to grasp it fully.
Many students get involved in study groups to discuss case briefs and build useful outlines to understand complex concepts better. A key thing to remember is that it's very hard to catch up if you fall behind. Everything you read is essential to your next day's class and for all future courses. However, your class prep time will get easier after the first year of law school, as you'll have a better grasp of the legal terminology, study requirements, and necessary lawyering skills.
How Are Law Classes Graded?
Although some classes, such as legal research and writing, may grade students on oral presentations and writing projects, most law courses do not. Instead, your final exam determines your grade. These exams differ by class but often use an essay format.
Students must read various stories or fact patterns, then analyze the information and develop an essay outline. Next, students form essay answers or a written analysis showing an understanding of the law and the ability to apply it to the facts at hand. In these cases, the student is the judge or counsel charged with determining the case's outcome or arguments.
While some teachers may offer extra credit based on class participation or knock you down points for lack of preparation, scoring well on exams is what determines your grade. Moreover, during your first year of law school, you can expect exams to be graded on a strict grading curve, with few students receiving an A.
Can You Choose Your Law School Courses?
During your first year, it's crucial to learn and adjust to the expectations of law school. To get you ready to practice, you need to start with the basics. Most law schools develop their curricula to ensure that students achieve the competencies mandated by the American Bar Association and are well-positioned to succeed on the bar exam . This means you likely won’t have a lot of choice in the classes you take, at least not at the beginning. Later in your law school career you’ll be able to select more elective courses.
Schools like ONU Law also offer certificate tracks . These allow you to tailor your courses to your specific interests. For example, you can choose to concentrate on criminal, corporate, or tax law, among others, at ONU Law.
After your first year at ONU Law, you also need to complete a minimum of seven hours of instruction in skills courses . There are clinics, workshops, externships, and classes that aim to prepare you to practice law. You'll learn how to:
- Interview and counsel clients
- Advocate on your client's behalf
- Draft legal documents
- Navigate complex workflows
- Collaborate with legal teams
- Take into account your legal strategy's impact on clients
- Adhere to legal deadlines
Dual Degree Programs
Some schools offer students a combination of a Juris Doctor degree and a master’s degree fitting with their undergraduate degree. For instance, students who complete ONU Law's JD/MSA program receive a Master of Science in Accounting and a Juris Doctor degree. Furthermore, this three-year program earns you enough credits to sit for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam.
Where Can Law Students Get Help?
The fast-paced teaching methods and exam styles can leave law students feeling anxious or concerned about their grades, especially during the first year. Law schools offer students various levels of support.
Before applying to law school , review the types of assistance offered to students. For instance, ONU Law offers a robust Academic Success program. This program encourages students throughout their journey from classwork to bar exam preparation. ONU Law also provides:
- Career and professional development support: Get access to personalized counseling, use a job-search software platform, receive networking opportunities, and order professional business cards.
- Summer Starter Program: Designed for students with lower LSAT scores, the Summer Starter Program is eight weeks long, provides two first-year classes and earns you eight credit hours. You get one-on-one instruction and automatic enrollment into the fall class upon completion. Learn more about the Summer Starter program and whom it’s for on our admissions blog .
- The Taggart Law Library: Along with electronic research tools, you'll find more than 463,000 volumes of state, federal, and international legal materials all within a quiet area with workstations and open seating.
- Health and wellness resources : ONU Law cares about the entire student, not just the academic portion. The college provides numerous wellness options, including counseling, an ONU health center, dining services, spirituality health services, and fitness activities.
Discover Law School Classes at ONU Law
Yes, getting your JD degree won't be easy. Then again, you didn't expect it to be. Schools like ONU Law do more than give you failing or passing grades. They immerse you in lawyering experiences and surround you with capable mentors and alumni to ensure you're prepared to take the next step. And with an 86% first-time bar passage rate in Ohio during the 2020 pandemic, students continue to excel regardless of obstacles. Discover your future by signing up to receive information about ONU Law and upcoming events.
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How to Structure & Write A First-Class Law Essay: Key Tips
Writing a law essay can be a challenging task. As a law student, you’ll be expected to analyse complex legal issues and apply legal principles to real-world scenarios. At the same time, you’ll need to be able to communicate your ideas clearly and persuasively. In this article, we’ll cover some top tips to guide you through the process of planning, researching, structuring and writing a first-class law essay. By the end of this article, you’ll be better equipped to tackle your next writing assignment with confidence!
1. Start In Advance
Give yourself plenty of time to plan, research and write your law essay. Always aim to start your law essay as soon as you have the question. Leaving it until the last minute does not only create unnecessary stress, but it also leaves you insufficient time to write, reference and perfect your work.
2. Understand The Question
Do not begin until you fully comprehend the question. Take the time to read the question carefully and make sure that you understand what it’s asking you to do. Highlight key terms and annotate the question with definitions of key concepts and any questions that you have have. Think about how the question links back to what you’ve learned during your lectures or through your readings.
3. Conduct Thorough Research
Conducting thorough research around your topic is one of the most fundamental parts of the essay writing process. You should aim to use a range of relevant sources, such as cases, academic articles, books and any other legal materials. Ensure that the information you collect is taken from relevant, reliable and up to date sources. Use primary over secondary material as much as possible.
Avoid using outdated laws and obscure blog posts as sources of information. Always aim to choose authoritative sources from experts within the field, such as academics, politicians, lawyers and judges. Using high-quality and authoritative sources and demonstrating profound and critical insight into your topic are what will earn you top marks.
Start writing like a lawyer! Read our tips:
4. write a detailed plan.
Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to plan your essay. When writing your plan, you’ll need to create an outline that clearly identifies the main points that you wish to make throughout your article. Try to write down what you wish to achieve in each paragraph, what concepts you want to discuss and arguments you want to make.
Your outline should be organised in a clear, coherent and logical manner to ensure that the person grading your essay can follow your line of thought and arguments easily. You may also wish to include headings and subheadings to structure your essay effectively This makes it easier when it comes to writing the essay as starting without a plan can get messy. The essay must answer the question and nothing but the question so ensure all of your points relate to it.
5. Write A Compelling Introduction
A great introduction should, firstly, outline the research topic. The introduction is one of the most crucial parts of the law essay as it sets the tone for the rest of the paper. It should capture the readers attention and provide the background context on the topic. Most importantly, it should state the thesis of your essay.
When writing your introduction, avoid simply repeating the given question. Secondly, create a road map for the reader, letting them know how the essay will approach the question. Your introduction must be concise. The main body of the essay is where you will go into detail.
6. Include A Strong Thesis Statement
Your thesis should clearly set out the argument you are going to be making throughout your essay and should normally go in the introduction. Your thesis should adopt a clear stance rather than being overly general or wishy-washy. To obtain the best grades, you’ll need to show a unique perspective based upon a critical analysis of the topic rather than adopting the most obvious point of view.
Once you’ve conducted your research and had a chance to reflect on your topic, ask yourself whether you can prove your argument within the given word count or whether you would need to adopt a more modest position for your paper. Always have a clear idea of what your thesis statement is before you begin writing the content of your essay.
7. Present the Counter-argument
To demonstrate your deeper understanding of the topic, it’s important to show your ability to consider the counter-arguments and address them in a careful and reasoned manner. When presenting your counterarguments, aim to depict them in the best possible light, aiming to be fair and reasonable before moving on to your rebuttal. To ensure that your essay is convincing, you will need to have a strong rebuttal that explains why your argument is stronger and more persuasive. This will demonstrate your capacity for critical analysis, showing the reader that you have carefully considered differing perspectives before coming to a well-supported conclusion.
8. End With A Strong Conclusion
Your conclusion is your opportunity to summarise the key points made throughout your essay and to restate the thesis statement in a clear and concise manner. Avoid simply repeating what has already been mentioned in the body of the essay. For top grades, you should use the conclusion as an opportunity to provide critical reflection and analysis on the topic. You may also wish to share any further insights or recommendations into alternative avenues to consider or implications for further research that could add value to the topic.
9. Review The Content Of Your Essay
Make sure you factor in time to edit the content of your essay. Once you’ve finished your first draft, come back to it the next day. Re-read your essay with a critical perspective. Do your arguments make sense? Do your paragraphs flow in a logical manner? You may also consider asking someone to read your paper and give you critical feedback. They may be able to add another perspective you haven’t considered or suggest another research paper that could add value to your essay.
10. Proofread For Grammatical Mistakes
Once you’re happy with the content of your essay, the last step is to thoroughly proofread your essay for any grammatical errors. Ensure that you take time to ensure that there are no grammar, spelling or punctuation errors as these can be one of the easiest ways to lose marks. You can ask anyone to proofread your paper, as they would not necessarily need to have a legal background – just strong grammar and spelling skills!
11. Check Submission Guidelines
Before submitting, ensure that your paper conforms with the style, referencing and presentation guidelines set out by your university. This includes the correct font, font size and line spacing as well as elements such as page numbers, table of content etc. Referencing is also incredibly important as you’ll need to make sure that you are following the correct referencing system chosen by your university. Check your university’s guidelines about what the word count is and whether you need to include your student identification number in your essay as well. Be thorough and don’t lose marks for minor reasons!
12. Use Legal Terms Accurately
Always make sure that you are using legal terms accurately throughout your essay. Check an authoritative resource if you are unsure of any definitions. While being sophisticated is great, legal jargon if not used correctly or appropriately can weaken your essay. Aim to be concise and to stick to the point. Don’t use ten words when only two will do.
12. Create a Vocabulary Bank
One recurring piece of advice from seasoned law students is to take note of phrases from books and articles, key definitions or concepts and even quotes from your professors. When it comes to writing your law essay, you will have a whole range of ideas and vocabulary that will help you to develop your understanding and thoughts on a given topic. This will make writing your law essay even easier!
13. Finally, Take Care of Yourself
Last but certainly not least, looking after your health can improve your attitude towards writing your law essay your coursework in general. Sleep, eat, drink and exercise appropriately. Take regular breaks and try not to stress. Do not forget to enjoy writing the essay!
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How to Become a Lawyer: A Step-by-Step Guide
Full-time law programs typically require three years beyond college, and can be highly rigorous.
Step-By-Step Tips on Becoming a Lawyer
The Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, is the traditional law school entrance exam, the one that most prospective law students take in order to qualify for law school. (Getty Images)
Entering the legal profession is no small task, so the choice to become a lawyer should not be made lightly, experts say. Getting a license to practice law in the U.S. generally requires years of strenuous effort and often involves acquiring significant student loan debt to cover the cost of law school .
But a legal career often leads to a six-figure salary. The median annual pay among lawyers in the U.S. in May 2021 was $127,990, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Here are some key steps involved in becoming a lawyer.
Step 1: Learn About Legal Jobs and Careers
Someone considering a career as a lawyer should first conduct research on the legal profession. The Law School Admission Council's "Discover Law" portal , for instance, includes information about what it's like to be a lawyer and how to prepare for law school .
Linda Sugin, law professor at Fordham University School of Law in New York, advises students to talk with lawyers in their community to get a sense of the variety of job options in the field. There are many specializations to choose from, such as aviation law, sports and entertainment law , corporate law, real estate law, immigration law and criminal law .
"Lawyers are in a service profession, so our primary role is to help our clients," she says. "Aspiring lawyers need to think about their social and emotional skills, their personal resilience, as well as their intellectual skills. ... We also have an obligation to all legal institutions and to the democratic system. Young people who have a strong sense of ethical obligation, personal integrity and commitment to justice, I think those are really important attributes."
Step 2: Develop Communication and Reasoning Skills and a Strong Work Ethic
After determining that the legal profession is a good fit, students should look for academic and extracurricular experiences that will help them develop skills necessary to be a great lawyer.
Because law schools do not require specific undergraduate coursework – applicants hail from all academic backgrounds – potential attorneys have the flexibility to take the college courses that interest them most.
Steven Freedman, associate dean of admissions at the University of Kansas School of Law , advises aspiring lawyers to take at least several upper-level humanities classes, since reading, writing and research skills developed in those courses are critical to most legal jobs.
Courses in social science are also helpful, since they cultivate societal awareness and teach people skills. It's also beneficial to take analytical courses of some sort, whether in philosophy or science, technology, engineering or math – STEM fields – since logical reasoning is a fundamental component of the legal profession.
"I actually don't think that students are helped much by taking some kind of a pre-law curriculum in undergrad," Sugin says. "What law students need to do is read carefully, think critically and communicate effectively. Those are the three most important things."
One great way to prepare for a career as a lawyer is to get involved with a speech and debate team or a mock trial team. Those extracurricular activities can help students learn to argue persuasively, lawyers explain, adding that drama also provides solid preparation for a legal career since the performing arts emphasize public speaking skills.
Even an activity that doesn't initially appear to be related to the practice of law, such as playing a sport, writing for a school newspaper or doing volunteer work, could prove useful to aspiring attorneys if it helps them develop personal discipline and collaboration skills.
Step 3: Study for the LSAT or GRE
The Law School Admission Test, or LSAT , is the traditional law school entrance exam, the one that most prospective law students take in order to qualify for law school. However, prospective law students may also have the option to take the Graduate Record Examinations General Test, or GRE.
The higher the LSAT score , the more competitive a law school applicant usually is. But even if you end up with average scores, remember that admissions committees also consider other components of your application.
"Law schools take a holistic approach to reviewing candidates, and there's rarely any single factor that will get you in or keep you out of law school," Freedman says. "But it is true that law school admissions can be a competitive process. So factors like LSAT and GPA can be very important in terms of gaining admission to the schools that you're looking at. So definitely take both of those seriously."
Step 4: Get Into Law School and Earn a J.D. Degree
Some law schools are highly selective , so applicants to those schools should keep that in mind when preparing their applications. When evaluating candidates for a J.D. , or juris doctor degree, admissions officers consider multiple factors, including college GPA, test scores, the personal statement and resume .
Legal industry experts advise J.D. applicants to attend a law school that has a track record of preparing people for the type of job they desire.
Judith Szepesi, a partner with the Nicholson De Vos Webster & Elliott intellectual property law firm in Silicon Valley, suggests assessing the return on investment of a law degree at a school by comparing the cost of the degree with probable future earnings.
Full-time J.D. programs typically last three years and usually are rigorous, especially during the first year, experts say.
"Students should be looking for the best fit for them. It's not one size fits all," Sugin says. "I think it's really important for students to understand that different law schools have different cultures. They have different academic emphases, they have different alumni networks. It's a different community that you are going to enter into when you choose different law schools."
Step 5: Get Admitted to the Bar Where You Intend to Practice
To practice law in the U.S., aspiring attorneys generally must pass the bar exam in the jurisdiction where they intend to practice. And each state has it's own bar requirements. Wisconsin, for instance, offers "diploma privilege," which exempts graduates of the University of Wisconsin—Madison and Marquette University law schools from the exam.
Some state bar exams are notoriously difficult. It's important for aspiring attorneys to take them seriously and study thoroughly, experts say.
Students should soak up as much knowledge as they can during law school, since they will need that knowledge to pass the bar, says Elena Langan, dean and professor of law at Touro University's Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in New York.
J.D. students should realize that the goal of taking a law school course isn't simply to get an A; the point is to master the material covered, she says. "You, in essence start preparing for the bar exam from Day One."
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Types of Law Degrees and Specializations
Law school electives that will prepare you to practice in any number of legal fields. Our law specializations list highlights some of the most popular types of law. Investigate options you may not have previously considered and choose your electives accordingly.
Popular Fields of Law
Admiralty law, business law, constitutional law, criminal law, environmental law, first amendment law, health care law, intellectual property law.
- Joint Degree Programs
Also referred to as maritime law, admiralty law covers such topics as shipping, navigation, waters, insurance, canals — and even piracy.
Unlike many other law specialties, admiralty law has a very distinctive niche. It is now under the jurisdiction of the federal district courts. The courts state that the ship's flag determines the source country of the law, which means each country is allowed to rule over their own ships and seamen, regardless of the waters (although U.S. courts may refuse to honor another country's law).
Business law deals with any aspect of the law having to do with industry and commerce — from taxes and liability to licensing and trademarking. This extremely wide section of the law forks off into numerous areas of expertise.
Click here for a list of Online JD Programs offering enhanced flexibility and affordability.
Often considered one of the most broad and involved branches of law, constitutional law requires a deep understanding of the U.S. Constitution in order to understand its every possible interpretation and implementation.
This topic of law is designed to preserve the relationships between state and federal governments (as well as the internal relationships) and protect the rights of the individual as well. Constitutional law draws heavily from rulings made in the Supreme Court.
Criminal law revolves around governmental prosecution of anyone who is purported to have committed a criminal act, as defined by public law. An act cannot be classified as a crime if no precedent has been set by either governmental statute or common law, and suits between two individuals or organizations are considered to be civil, rather than criminal cases.
Environmental law mostly stems from a group of federal enactments passed in 1970 that forced agencies and businesses to take into account the effect of their practices on the environment. The enactments set into effect laws and standards that would protect the environment from public and private actions.
First Amendment law focuses on protecting citizens' rights to freedom of speech, religion, press, and assembly against law enacted by Congress.
Litigation is made possible by the First Amendment's right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. First Amendment cases have covered everything from book burning to prayer in schools to Internet pornography.
Since it is primarily the state's duty to maintain public health, most heath laws and regulations are state-based. Federal health law centers on the Department of Health and Human Services, which is ultimately in charge of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Health care law practice can also cover medical malpractice, licensure, patient rights and bio-ethical policy.
Master of Studies in Law (MSL) programs can boost the careers of non-lawyers. Click for info.
Intellectual property (IP) law has seen tremendous growth in the past decade. It is a general category of law that deals with the acquisition and enforcement of patents, trademarks and copyrights. IP law can traditionally be broken down into three subdivisions:
Intellectual property encompasses the exclusive rights to a registered idea, product, or name, and includes anything from words and symbols to Internet domain names. IP law not only deals with unauthorized use of property and plagiarism, but also with the protection of image and personality through use of registered property.
Patents grant an inventor a limited period of exclusive rights to a human-made invention or an improvement on an existing invention, providing the United States Patent and Trademark Office deems it worthy of both technical and legal merit. Patent law allows for the protection of every aspect of a discovery, from the ornamental design to the processing methods.
In order to become a patent attorney, you must be admitted to practice before the courts of at least one state in the United States, and must pass the patent bar exam which allows you to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent bar exam has a much lower pass rate than most bar exams, and requires that examinees possess strong technical backgrounds. Because of this, many patent lawyers have undergraduate (or even graduate) degrees in science or engineering.
Joint Law Degree Programs
In addition to offering specialized areas of study, many law schools have instituted formal dual-degree programs that offer students the opportunity to pursue a JD while also working toward a Master's degree. Although the JD/MBA combination is the most popular joint-degree sought, many universities offer a JD program combined with Masters' degrees in public policy, public administration and social work, among others. Although they take more work, dual degrees may make some students more marketable for certain positions come job time.
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Should i go to law school.
- Why law school?
- What skills do I need?
What can I expect in law school?
- How much does law school cost?
- What types of legal practice are there?
- What does the practice of law look like?
- How much can I expect to earn?
What is a law degree?
A Juris Doctor (J.D.) is the degree awarded to law school graduates. Most J.D. programs are three-year programs, though some are four-year part-time programs, and a few two-year accelerated programs are available. Graduates can practice any area of law after passing a state bar exam with the exception of patent law, which requires a technical undergraduate major (or substantial coursework in science courses) and a passing score on the patent bar exam. For more information on patent law requirements, go to the United State Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) .
A J.D. can also lead to a range of law-related careers in government, politics, business, higher education, alternative dispute resolution, consulting, public interest advocacy, and numerous other fields. If you are interested in earning a J.D. for any career other than the practice of law, make sure to investigate alternative pathways to that career, including other graduate degrees and work experience, to be sure law school is the most efficient path.
Don’t confuse the J.D. with the LL.M., a masters of laws degree for students who have already earned their J.D. or for international students with a legal background who want to learn U.S. law.
How is law school different than college?
Case method :.
Law school is an academic challenge; most students agree the first year (“1L” year) is the most difficult. In part, this is because law school is taught using methods entirely different than the lecture method used in most college classrooms. Law school is taught using the Case Method in combination with the Socratic Method. The Case Method involves significant reading and preparation for class. Expect to spend several hours each evening reading cases (appellate-level judicial opinions). Here is an example of a case usually covered in a first-year contracts course:
Frigaliment Importing Co. v. B.N.S. International Sales Corp. , 190 F.Supp. 116 (S.D.N.Y. 1960).
The textbooks for first-year law classes usually include cases and excerpts of cases from across the country. You will not find explanations of the cases, summaries of the cases, or outlines of the pertinent information to understand in teh textbook. It is up to you to “brief” each case. A case brief is a summary of the case, broken down into relevant parts. You must analyze each case in preparation for class.
Case Brief for Frigaliment Importing Co. v. B.N.S. International Sales Corp. , 190 F.Supp. 116 (S.D.N.Y. 1960).
Socratic Method :
There is no way to hide in a law school classroom. Law professors usually don’t lecture; instead, they ask questions to help students learn how to analyze case law. Students often have assigned seats and the professors have a seating chart with pictures and names of students pasted to it. This makes it easier for them to call on students and ask questions about the assigned cases. For a particular case, the professor may ask questions designed to explore the facts of the case, to determine the legal principles, and to analyze the reasoning used. The professor may then use hypothetical scenarios to test a student’s understanding of the material.
Most law schools have a highly-structured first year (referred to as “1L”) curriculum.
“As a first-year law student, you will follow a designated course of study that may cover many of the following subjects:
- Civil procedure— the process of adjudication in the United States, i.e., jurisdiction and standing to sue, motions and pleadings, pretrial procedure, the structure of a lawsuit, and appellate review of trial results.
- Constitutional law— the legislative powers of the federal and state governments, and questions of civil liberties and constitutional history, including detailed study of the Bill of Rights and constitutional freedoms.
- Contracts— the nature of enforceable promises and rules for determining appropriate remedies in case of nonperformance.
- Criminal law and criminal procedure— bases of criminal responsibility, the rules and policies for enforcing sanctions against individuals accused of committing offenses against the public order and well-being, and the rights guaranteed to those charged with criminal violations.
- Legal method— students' introduction to the organization of the American legal system and its processes.
- Legal writing— research and writing component of most first-year programs; requires students to research and write memoranda dealing with various legal problems.
- Property law— concepts, uses, and historical developments in the treatment of land, buildings, natural resources, and personal objects.
- Torts— private wrongs, such as acts of negligence, assault, and defamation, that violate obligations of the law.”
From LSAC, “What You Can Expect from Your Law School Experience” .
Exams and Grading :
After class, students create outlines of the course material from their classroom notes and case briefs. Study groups are encouraged to help students understand complicated concepts and case distinctions. Many students work on their course outlines in these study groups. Outlines are important because they can often be used on final exams. Most first-year law courses have only one exam at the end of the semester that determines 100 percent of a student’s final grade. A minority of schools have courses with mid-terms or assignments throughout the semester. These exams are often based on hypothetical fact patterns that touch on all of the concepts in the course and require the student to analyze and apply the law, rather than memorize it. Sample exams can be found online at various law schools. Many students find it difficult to assess how well they are mastering the material in the first semester as they assimilate to law school.
In the first-year of law school, many students find the Case Method foreign, the Socratic Method unnerving, and the lack of information about their academic progress troubling. This creates a stimulating, stressful, and competitive first-year experience that many students report is the greatest academic challenge of their lives. Some students thrive in this setting while others stumble. It is critical for you to learn as much as possible about law school before you get there to determine if this environment is a match for your skills and goals.
How can I learn more about law school?
The activities and resources below can help you explore your interest in law school.
- Subscribe to the Pre-law Listserv to learn about upcoming events, scholarship opportunities, and important updates. Click here to register.
- Sit in on a real law school course. There is no better way to learn about what law school is really like than to attend. Many schools will allow you to sit in on a class during a scheduled visit to the school. Consider sitting in on a class at one of Penn State’s law schools: Penn State Law at University Park or Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle.
- Meet admissions officers from law schools at Law School Day during Graduate & Professional School Week held in the HUB each October.
- Attend a free LSAC Law School Recruitment Forum held in major cities around the country.
- Examine law school case books and other readings in the Penn State University Bookstore.
- Join a student organization to learn more about law school. There are several student organizations that host events for students to learn more about the law school experience. Find out more about these organizations .
- Consider a summer exploratory program at a law school. Many schools offer 1-3 week programs designed to introduce students to law school and help them decide if it is the right fit for their interests and goals.
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Law: Legal essay
Four tips on how to write a good law essay.
An essay is a common type of assessment in a law degree. This resource offers tips and resources to help you plan and write law essays. There are usually two types of law essays: the theoretical based essay and the problem-style essay.
The theoretical based essay may ask you to critically discuss a new piece of legislation or a recent case in relation to existing laws or legal principles. You may also be asked to take a side in an argument or discuss the wider societal implications of a legal outcome.
Problem-style essays require you to advise a party based on the analysis of a scenario or given problem. You will be required to identify the legal issues and apply relevant law. See more on legal problem-solving in this resource . This resource will focus on theoretical based law essays. There are a number of strategies that may help you in starting, structuring and presenting a law essay.
1. Starting your answer
The first step to a successful law essay is understanding the question. One of the most effective ways of breaking down the question is to identify the direction, content, and scope or limiting words.
For example, look at the following essay question:
Direction Words : Critically analyse.
Content Words: tort of negligence; tort of battery; consenting to medical treatment; patient’s right (autonomous decision).
Scope/Limiting Words: the extent to which, protect.
- In this case, we need to critically analyse an area of law.
- Here, we need to research the torts of negligence and battery and the issues of consent in medical treatments and patients’ rights .
- Here we should critically analyse how well (the extent to which) the aforementioned torts do or do not protect patients’ rights in the context of medical consent .
You may also find it useful to look at the rubric to help you interpret your examiner’s expectations.
2. Planning your argument
When reading a case, journal article, book chapter or online article, it can be hard to know exactly how to use the source in an essay. This is where taking good notes while reading critically is helpful. Take a look at our other resources to help you Read critically and Read difficult material .
The next step is to take notes that help you understand different arguments and issues, or information and context, and refer back to your assignment question to keep you on track.
Writing a very short summary of each source is a great way to start. For example, for each journal article you read, try to summarise the author's main points in a few lines. This will help you to articulate the meaning in your own words.
Then, expand on this summary with some key points. Be sure that when taking notes, you make a note of the source and the pinpoint reference or page number, so that you can correctly cite the source in your essay.
Think about how you will use your resources. You may use a primary or secondary resource to:
- to support your argument with evidence
- to demonstrate a range of issues and opinions (remember, it’s OK if you don’t agree with all your sources! Show where these contrasting arguments fit into your discussion)
It may be helpful to ask:
- How does this source contribute to my argument?
- Do I agree or disagree with the author’s argument?
See our resource Master the art of note-making and Brainstorming and mind mapping for more tips.
Integrating resources into your essay
It is important to use your research well. One way to do this is to plan the main points of your essay, and how you will use your primary and secondary resources (such as journal articles, books, case law, legislation, websites) to support one or more of those points.
3. Structuring your answer
A key element of successful law essays is the structure. A good structure will enable you to communicate your ideas fluently and efficiently. This is an important and highly valued skill not only in law school, but in practice as well.
Usually, your essay requires an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion. Generally, you should have one idea per paragraph. This may mean shorter paragraphs than what you would ordinarily write in high school or other faculties. Concision is key in law. Therefore, we recommend a short paragraph which efficiently addresses an issue over a long and winding exploration of many different issues.
Remember to use subheadings to provide structure to your writing. It is a good idea to come up with your subheadings before you start writing so that you have a structure to follow. The subheadings should act as a series of subtopics which reflect the arguments needed to substantiate your thesis statement.
Below we have an overview of the working components of good law essays. Examiners expect you to use all of these in your writing. The samples come from Julie Cassidy, ‘Hollow Avowals of Human Rights Protection: Time for an Australian Federal Bill of Rights?’ (2008) 13 Deakin Law Review 131.
NB: This is an illustrative example only. It is not concise enough for an undergraduate research essay and you would be expected to remove phrases like “In the course of, it is suggested that, in regard to.”
4. Presenting your ideas
In order to do well, you must also present your essay so that it reflects academic standards. This includes correct citation practices, subheadings, Plain English, and grammar and spelling.
Examiners highly value closely edited and proofed work. First-year students commonly rely too much on passive constructions and embellished language. Good lawyers write in clear and concise English that is easily understood.
- Correct Citation
- Plain English
- Grammar and Spelling
Your essay must adhere to the AGLC4 rules , including appropriate pinpoint footnotes and bibliography.
A comprehensive guide to AGLC4 is provided by the Library.
Law essays use subheadings frequently, but judiciously. This may be different to what you are used to.
Subheadings also help provide a structure. See the previous section for more advice.
In accordance with AGLC 4, the first word of your heading must be capitalised.
Examiners do not want to see the full extent of your vocabulary. They prefer to see complex arguments rendered in simple language.
This, surprisingly, is not easy. We tend to think through writing. That is, our ideas come to us as we are writing. This leaves a lot of writing which is repetitive, vague, or contradictory as our ideas evolve.
Use the editing worksheet to learn which words you can easily swap out to improve readability and strategies to avoid long-winded constructions.
Do not leave your assignment to the last minute. Not only will this create undue stress, but you will not have adequate time to proofread your assignment.
When we work intensively on a piece of writing, we need a period of time away, or distance, in order to re-read our work objectively. Give yourself 2-3 days before the due date so you can print your text and edit it carefully to remove any typos or grammatical errors.
Services like Grammarly may help to pick up errors that are missed by Microsoft Word.
Legal essay strategies, legal essay strategies accordion.
- Writing a Law essay mind map Take a look at this useful mind map to see the steps involved and the questions you should ask yourself when writing a law essay.
- Melbourne Law School: Research essay guide / Legal essay checklist
- Professor Steven Vaughan (University College London): How to write better law essays ( Prezi slides )
- Associate Professor Douglas Guilfoyle (University of New South Wales): Plain Legal English ( YouTube playlist )
- Professor James Lee (King’s College London): #FreeLawRevision Guides (see especially Essay Technique Parts 1, 2 and 3) ( YouTube playlist )
- Strategies for Essay Writing - Harvard College Writing Center See particularly, the section on Counterargument.
Examples and language
- University of Western Australia Law School: Examples of legal writing
- Columbia Law School: Writing in plain English
- Dr Patrick Goold (City, University of London): ‘It’s a subject where words matter’: how to write the perfect law essay ( The Guardian )
- 'Don't just vomit on the page': how to write a legal essay Law lecturer Steven Vaughan (University College, London) explains why the best essays take discipline, editing, and teamwork.
Effective Legal Writing: A Practical Approach
Corbett-Jarvis and Grigg
How to write better law essays : tools and techniques for success in exams and assignments
How to write law essays and exams
Level Up Your Essays: How to get better grades at university
Inger Mewburn, Shaun Lehmann, and Katherine Firth
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We want to hear from you! Let us know what you found most useful or share your suggestions for improving this resource.
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Online Master of Legal Studies » Related Law and Legal Degrees » Law Degree Specializations
Types of Law Degree Specializations: Which Areas of Law to Study?
Interested in pursuing a degree in law? Choosing a specialization can frame your educational and professional journey. There are different types of law degree specializations available to prepare students to work in their desired legal field, augmenting their existing skills and providing new, specialized knowledge.
No matter what type of law or legal degree program you are enrolled in—whether it’s a Master of Legal Studies (MLS), Master of Laws (LL.M.) or a Juris Doctor (J.D.) program—most law schools offer a broad range of law specializations. This guide will help you navigate 20 types of law degree specializations to find one that best aligns with your personal interests and career goals.
Areas of Law to Study
From healthcare law to commerce law, there are many different law specializations to choose from. Depending on the school or degree type, the names of these specializations may vary slightly.
The following list, featuring 20 types of law degree specializations, is a round up of practice specialties from the American Bar Association . Learn more about some common law degree concentrations below.
Admiralty (maritime) law.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Criminal Law
Environmental law, international law.
- Litigation and Trials
Labor and Employment
Mergers and acquisitions, taxation law, trusts and estates.
Animal law is the combination of statutory and case law that relates to nonhuman animals. This specialization addresses issues of animal cruelty, property, entertainment, farming, federal statutes around exotic animals and more. Of the law degree specializations available, this one may be a fit for individuals interested in animal welfare and activism.
Administrative law focuses on the regulation, operation and procedures of government agencies. This specialization exposes students to the legal principles that govern federal and state administrative agencies and how this affects financial, health and workplace regulations, among others. This type of law degree specialization is most suitable for individuals interested in government administration on a federal and state level.
Admiralty law, also known as maritime law, is one of the many fields of law available to law students. It focuses on legislation that regulates economic transactions involving marine trade, sailors and navigation. This is not to be confused with the Law of the Sea, which refers to international public law surrounding coastal waters jurisdiction. This specialization may be optimal for professionals interested in the legal implications of activities at sea.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolution is a field of law dedicated to solving disputes without litigation. Students in a master’s in dispute resolution program learn about conflict negotiation, domestic mediation and area-specific dispute resolution. This concentration may best suit professionals who are peacemakers dedicated to creative and ethical conflict resolution.
Construction law refers to the broad field of law that protects industry workers, including construction workers, financial institutions, architects, planners and occupants, as well as the regulations that govern the planning, design and construction of buildings and structures. This type of law degree specialization is suitable for professionals who are interested in ethical work regulations, safety, project administration and more.
Corporate compliance law ensures that companies and employees abide by laws, regulations, standards and ethical practices to avoid fines and lawsuits. Legal students pursuing this track will likely enroll in a master’s in compliance program. The program allows them to gain insight into business regulations as well as how to navigate compliance issues with risk assessment. Professionals who are interested in applying law to business and workplace ethics are best suited for this concentration compared to other areas of law practice.
Criminal law is one of the more common areas of law and provides students with the necessary training to become prosecutors, defenders or lawyers with a firm. Students learn about individual liberty, fundamental rights, law enforcement, criminal behavior, juvenile justice, criminal investigations and more. This type of law degree specialization may be ideal for people interested in public safety.
Cybersecurity law is a legal field that supports the privacy, confidentiality and protection of public and private information systems. Students with a focus in cybersecurity will learn about domestic and international laws and regulations surrounding cybersecurity as these laws will continue evolving in the digital age. This field of law may be a good fit for individuals interested in online security, data management and policy surrounding privacy.
E-commerce law is a relevant field in the digital age as it supports businesses, governments and consumers in navigating commercial transactions that happen over the internet. In this concentration, students will learn about the legal challenges that e-commerce presents as technology continues to advance. This specialization option may be best for professionals interested in business, digital markets and trade.
Education law explores the policies and regulations that govern K–12 education, as well as higher education systems. Some of the issues related to education include equal education opportunity, gender or racial discrimination, school finances, special education and more. This law degree specialization is geared toward individuals interested in educational policy, rights and equality.
Environmental law involves all levels of government, statutes, regulations and laws related to the protection of the environment. This includes issues like natural resource management, pollution, land disputes, environmental policies and more. This type of law degree specialization is a viable choice for students interested in climate change and environmental activism.
Family law is another one of the common types of law to specialize in. It centers around legal relations involving any individuals within a family unit. Professionals in this field manage legal arrangements around child welfare, adoption, custody, domestic partnerships, divorce and more. Students learn about legal implications within the context of a family. This area of law practice may be the ideal choice for individuals interested in working closely with families, many of whom are navigating transitional periods.
Health law encompasses any legislation related to healthcare, including the representation of patients, health practitioners, clinics, insurance companies and more. Students studying healthcare law learn about the legislative, executive and judicial regulations that govern the healthcare industry. This field of law might be suitable for professionals interested in evolving healthcare systems.
International law is a broad category that refers to the rules and regulations governing international relationships, including relations between United Nations states and individuals, international organizations and more. Students pursuing this area of law are exposed to the legal responsibilities of how UN states engage with one another. This type of law degree specialization may likely interest professionals who enjoy learning about global affairs and international policy.
Litigation and Trials
Litigation and trial law involves litigation management, as well as pretrial, trial and appellate practice. Students learn how to represent parties in trials before federal, state and local courts. This law degree specialization targets professionals interested in gaining practical experience in the process of interviewing clients, creating trial strategies, and drafting pleadings, complaints, and counterclaims.
Labor and employment law encompasses legal questions surrounding employee-employer relationships. This includes issues like wage compensation, harassment, gender, racial or disability discrimination and more. Students studying labor and employment law are exposed to mandates and regulations in the workplace. This field of law, like other areas of law practice, may be best suited for people with specific passions, namely professionals interested in workplace equality, fair compensation and employee protection.
Mergers and acquisition law explores the legal implications of transactions related to the ownership of companies, particularly when ownership is blended or transferred. This law degree specialization exposes students to corporate restructuring and strategy, as well as finance principles. This path may be a good fit for professionals who are committed to improving corporate performance or developing new business strategies.
Sports law involves any legal issues related to the sports industry, including labor laws, injuries, contract issues or unfair competition. Lawyers may work with collegiate athletic organizations, professional sports leagues, individual athletes or coaches. Sports law students learn about the rules governing sports as well as contract negotiations and more. This area of law practice may be best suited for people interested in the rights and regulations in the world of sports.
Taxation law looks at the legal rules and procedures governing how federal, state and local governments calculate taxes. Taxation lawyers may work with the federal and state government or in law and accounting firms. They can also serve as in-house counsel for businesses. This is one of the common types of law to specialize in, and it could be a good fit for professionals who are interested in finance and tax procedures and who are willing to continue adjusting to new tax modifications. Individuals may get started on this career path by earning a master’s in taxation .
Trust and estate law concerns the protection of assets during a client’s lifetime. It also encompasses the distribution of those assets after death. This type of law degree specialization requires students to learn about the legal implications of wills, living trusts, debts, liabilities and more. This type of law practice may be a top choice for individuals interested in fostering long-term relationships with clients, teaching them to navigate financial and personal issues over time.
FAQs on Areas of Law to Study
Learn more about various types of law degree specializations and which one is right for you, with these common questions:
A law degree specialization is an opportunity to specialize your study of law, based on your own personal interests and career goals. From healthcare and education to sports and taxation, there are many different paths you can take.
There are dozens of types of law degree specializations to choose from, including sub-categories. For example, health law encompasses sub-categories such as malpractice, insurance procedures and more. Begin by exploring our list of 20 law degree specializations .
Depending on the school and program, specializations may vary on campus and online. However, some universities offer the same specializations in their on-campus and online programs.
Typically, students are able to complete dual concentrations, meaning they can specialize in two different categories, like sports and taxation law. However, it’s important to check with your school first and to consider the workload that comes with such a commitment.
Depending on the law school and program, you may be able to change your concentration after your program begins. That said, MLS and LLM programs generally only take one year to finish, so you may find that planning and choosing your specialization early on makes the most sense for your law school journey. Keep in mind that additional credits may be necessary to complete a new degree—so be sure to check in with your university and academic advisors first.
Many law schools have general tracks, and some students may not declare a specialization. However, confirm with your university and program first to make sure you aren’t missing any information.
If a law or legal studies degree sounds interesting to you, consider finding your niche with a law degree specialization that combines your personal interests and professional goals. If you are also considering learning online, check out our list of online J.D. programs to learn more about online law programs or online LL.M. programs if you already hold a JD.
If you don’t want to become a lawyer or practice law in the future, an online master’s in legal studies may be a good option for you—and the degree can be completed in one year.
Last updated October 2021.
- Life as a Law Student: 7 Things You Really Have to Know
Whilst we have all heard a little about studying law at university, whether through family, friends or films, it is difficult to know what it really does involve – and there’s no shortage of stories out there, from the mostly accurate to the utterly fantastical. This article should debunk a few myths, confirm a few and make sure you know what you are signing up for when you fill in that application form! It also includes a little advice to help you settle into law student life that bit quicker. Or if you’re considering taking trying the subject through a Law Summer School . Law is a great subject to study at university but it does have its challenges: here’s what you can expect.
1. There is a lot of reading.
Just to get the scary one out of the way first, it is difficult to explain how much reading a law degree involves other than to say that there are a lot of law books! Law students get a reputation for clocking up the library hours because each week you need to learn what the law actually is and academics’ opinions of it from scratch, and neither of these will be particularly short. There is definitely an art to managing the reading lists and you will get all the advice you need from older students when you first arrive, but it does take a while to get used to the pace of learning. That said, by the end of your first term you won’t believe how quickly you can pick up the key themes of an article or find the important passages from a case. Just be ready for the inevitable long nights when you need to stay up getting through an endless reading list. They do happen but they are (almost) only as common as you want them to be; you are never set more work than it is feasible to do if you manage your time well. Self-imposing a schedule for getting reading done, plus whatever other assignments you have been set, is a habit to get into very quickly.
2. There is no single ‘eureka!’ moment, but it does all come together eventually.
Certain areas of law, particularly contract and tort, deal with different types of human action but are so similar in places that they often ‘run out’ just as the other one starts. As you usually learn only a few topics at a time you may not understand one fully until you have covered the next one. It is absolutely normal to feel a little like you’re in the dark to begin with, although universities try to organise the courses so that the first year exams at least can stand on their own. Criminal law, for instance, makes a good first year subject because it is easy to get to grips with the ideas and it doesn’t overlap too much with any other area. It is just important to know that if you study Land law before Trusts/Equity, it is not a problem if you don’t fully understand what a trust is because that will come next.
3. There is a rat race, but you don’t need to join it (straight away).
The law students aren’t considered the quickest off the mark for getting involved in applications and internships early on in their degree, but it’s a close one! More and more law firms are offering placements and taster days during the first year of university so it is tempting to think that you need to get involved in deciding your career choice right from day one. If you are thinking about becoming a solicitor it is worth applying to these if you want to be ahead of the game, but the big one is the summer vacation schemes at the end of your penultimate year. If you are thinking about the Bar then the more mini-pupillages you have under your belt when you fill in your application form at the beginning of your final year the better, and some chambers will expect a certain number as a minimum. However, most of this kicks off at the beginning of second year so you do have time to settle into legal study before you need to think about applications. Don’t forget that there are other options too — charity work, civil service, interning for a while until you decide on a career path (if you can afford it!) or further study are all worthwhile alternatives. It’s also worth thinking about going to a local or regional firm or chambers if that appeals to you, and for this you may have to send letters asking to go and shadow someone rather than applying to an organised scheme. All these alternatives are no less competitive but require you to look further afield than your Law Society e-mails, which may tend to focus on the big London (and increasingly international) opportunities. Your tutors, personal advisor, careers service or equivalent will give you plenty of advice about careers, and where to start looking for opportunities in a field you’re interested in. Make sure you think seriously about where you want to start off — it is easy to be swept along with the crowd! It is also just a fact of life that the legal sector, like anywhere at the moment, is very competitive for finding a job. Keep on top of your work, get involved with extra-curriculars and apply to any placements or schemes which may interest you so that your CV looks as good as it possibly can when you get to more serious applications.
4. You need to sweat the small stuff.
The ‘sharp mind’ you need for university study comes in different varieties, and each degree demands a particular mix of certain skills. Law requires both absolute command of the details of legislation and cases, and a wider view of how different areas interlock and what they (aim to) achieve. This is shown most clearly in the two main types of examination question. Problem questions require you to apply the law to very specific (and sometimes outright preposterous) factual patterns and explain why in this specific set of circumstances a piece of legislation or principle of law would/could be applied in a certain way. You need to know the legislation and the case law, because although you may be given a copy of the legislation it wastes time if you’re using it to do anything other than check minor points. Equally if you don’t know part of the case law in an area that can lose you marks or narrow down the number of questions you could potentially answer. Essay questions require you to make a broad point using specific examples, so you need to have a whole arsenal of examples to hand. Basically, you need to remember a lot of things! And you need to be prepared to sit down and learn cases, and at the very least the structure and key clauses of the relevant legislation so that you can find it in the statute book during the exam. It is absolutely normal to have legislation and case summaries stuck up round your wall during exam season (rent agreements permitting!). But because all this knowledge also needs to be grounded in the wider picture for the purposes of essay questions this isn’t just an exercise in memorising names, which makes the process a lot easier. An Oxford examiners’ report commented a few years ago (in light of students forgetting the names of key cases) that if you have done the work properly then remembering case names should be no more difficult than learning the names of breakfast cereals. I may not know hundreds of breakfast cereals, but it’s true that you learn a lot of small details without thinking about it.
5. Everyone is going to ask you for legal advice. And you won’t want to give it.
Somewhat ironically, the more law you know the less confident you become definitively stating what the legal position in a certain area is. You are, after all, focusing on the more controversial and uncertain areas of law so it is easy to forget that some are actually quite simple and clear-cut. There also comes a week where you learn about liability for giving advice and accepting responsibility for it being correct. It’s fairly well-accepted that casual remarks in social situations don’t come within this category but as soon as law students learn these cases they immediately stop wanting to give any form of legal advice! All this of course assumes that you know the area of law your friends are asking about in practical detail in the first place, which usually isn’t the case because law degrees are more theoretical than practical. No matter how many times you try to explain this to your friends however, you will still be asked. It’s something you will find frustrating, but it won’t stop you from asking the medical students about your twinging knee so it’s just something to resign yourself to I’m afraid.
6. It can be absolutely fascinating — especially when you think it won’t be.
Perhaps the really big thing to know about an English law degree is that there are subjects which (i) you have to study (ii) you expect you won’t enjoy. This is an unfortunate side-effect of the fact that law degrees are at heart vocational and so you study certain areas which are crucial to the smooth functioning of society but aren’t considered too glamorous. It’s worth noting that some people do come to university with a professed love for commercial law and that’s great, but it does seem to be the norm to start university dead set on being a human rights barrister. However, because you have to learn these topics in significant depth you do find yourself getting far more interested than you ever plan to. What can seem like a fairly technical subject such as land registration is actually vitally important to individual people when you think about it — many cases on the topic end up with someone being evicted from their family home, or allowed to stay despite the aspiring purchaser having no idea that they had a legal interest in the house as it was not entered in the register. There is a frame of mind to adopt here, and it’s absolutely central to ensuring that you enjoy studying law. Find the interesting element of something which doesn’t originally appeal to you — there will always be one, often the ‘human interest’ or political angle. Make as much of it as is possible as interesting to you as is possible. And resign yourself to the fact that you’ll just have to learn the rest!
7. Being a law student is what you want it to be.
Perhaps I’m giving the impression that law students spend their whole lives in the library learning statutes back to front, and that when they do emerge it’s to go to networking events, apply to careers or to sit exams. This just isn’t true. As with any other subject, university is exactly what you make of it and that will invariably (and should!) involve meeting some of your best friends and many of your future colleagues, getting involved in as many societies as you can make time for and having the odd quiet night in. There is a core amount of work which has to be done, but as a humanities student you’re in the enviable position of being able to manage your own timetable to a certain extent. Make the most of it! Specifically for law students, there are also plenty of extra-curricular activities which can be really rewarding for yourself and others. If you’d like to get involved in pro bono work then most law schools have a scheme running, really do make sure you try some mooting (mock appeal trial, where you pretend to be a barrister) because even though it’s quite scary it does wonders for your public speaking, and make the most of any opportunity to get the sort of legal experience you’re interested in during the holidays. There is no single ‘law degree experience’, much as there’s no single ‘university experience’; choose what you want to make your priorities over the three year period, as long as you always make time for your work.
Like any subject at university, studying law has its ups and downs. However, if you’re interested in the subject and able to motivate yourself to work sensible hours then there are definitely more positives and it is a fantastic subject to study for three (or four) years.
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Legal Memo Format Basics
March 2, 2023
IN THIS ARTICLE
What is the legal memo assignment?
What’s the difference between a closed legal memo and an open legal memo, what’s the standard legal memo format, how to write a legal memo.
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The legal memo is an objective memorandum that provides you the opportunity to review and research relevant case law, investigate relevant facts using available resources, analyze those facts under that law, and impartially assess the potential outcome of a matter. The legal memo is an assignment that law firm associates are frequently asked to provide to senior attorneys.
Far too often, however, the assigning attorney takes one look at the result and replies, “I knew this already.” To prevent this outcome, it’s important to write a legal memo with sufficient understanding of audience, scope, purpose, and format. With proper planning, law firm associates can maximize the odds of favorable reception at the outset.
Bloomberg Law can help you understand and apply legal issues to your legal memo assignment, so your final product addresses all relevant points right out of the gate.
A closed legal memo is an assignment where you are given the case law or other primary law to be used in your writing. Far more challenging is an open legal memo, where you will need to research and identify the relevant law, investigate and analyze the most legally significant facts involving a particular client, and provide a critical assessment of how the court may apply the law to the matter.
By extension, unlike a court brief, the legal memo is not the place to wager a legal opinion or argue facts. The legal memorandum serves as an objective standalone document and identifies the risks and any unknown facts that need investigation. It should maintain an impartial tone, with no implied preference for one side or the other.
How to conduct legal research
Learn about the best practices in legal research, including where to start, familiarizing yourself with an issue, and tips for searching documents.
Generally, a legal memorandum comprises six sections, with the following information:
1. Heading or caption
A section, titled, “Memorandum,” identifies the recipient (To: _______), the author (From: ____), the assignment submission date (typically in MMMM DD YYYY format), and subject of the memo (Re: __________).
2. Question presented
A brief one-sentence statement that defines how the law applies to the legal question at hand, and the jurisdiction where the matter will be decided. The question presented is specific and impartial and doesn’t assume a legal conclusion.
3. Brief answer
A quick-hit legal prediction to the question presented, based on a short (four to five sentences) explanation that references relevant law and facts.
4. Statement of facts
A concise, impartial statement of the facts that captures the heart of the legal matter, as well as current and past legal proceedings related to the issue. The facts can be chronological or grouped thematically, whichever format presents the facts in the clearest manner.
Restates the main facts and delineates the overarching legal rule. Several paragraphs outline the various legal topics to be addressed in the case and provide an analysis of the legal issues, usually ordered in subsections.
The assigning attorney will likely read this section first. It predicts how the court will apply the law, and how confident you are in your prediction based on the data. With an impartial advisory tone, you identify next steps and propose a legal strategy to proceed.
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Legal research memos can come in many forms—from broad 50-state surveys to more nuanced research on a particular point of law—but whatever the format, it’s important that you fully understand the task entrusted to you before you start typing.
If you tackle your assignment by following the recommended approaches in the legal memo example below, you’ll be more likely to find an appreciative supervising attorney, deliver better work product, cut down on the number of drafts required to arrive at a final product, and, most importantly, please the client.
Learn the essentials of litigation writing, research, and document review with our Core Litigation Skills Practical Guidance Toolkit , available to Bloomberg Law subscribers.
Legal memorandum sample assignment
Assignment: Prepare an open legal memo on whether, under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, there is personal jurisdiction over a foreign car manufacturer involving a products liability case.
Step 1: Understand the legal issues
Review legal memo assignment materials.
In an open legal memo, you will be tasked with researching relevant primary and secondary resources, such as from national, single, or multiple state entities, as well as appeals circuits, to include in your analysis.
Locate secondary sources
Secondary sources, such as books, treatises, law reviews, legal analysis publications, and Practical Guidance are a great starting point to assist with your legal memo research. Although secondary sources are not binding on courts, meaning courts are not required to follow these sources, they are still helpful tools to use when you know little about a topic.
However, remember that while you may know little about a topic, the same may not hold true for your audience. Readers like law partners and assigning attorneys will already know general law. Identify your audience’s presumed level of knowledge, then the most mission-critical questions to address. These identified gaps will inform your fact-finding and research.
Use secondary resources to better fill in the main legal topics and issues as they relate to the facts in the legal memo assignment. Your legal research should help frame the issue and lead to other relevant materials, including cases and statutes.
Throughout, utilize legal memo space wisely. Remember, legal memo length varies by subject. Some topics require only a short summary, while others compel long-form treatment. For guidance, search your firm’s office document management system for previous legal memos.
Sample assignment – Step 1
Understand the legal issues: Legal research depends on the right search terms. In the case, for example, you can use the keywords: (“personal jurisdiction” and manufacture!)) to locate relevant resources on the Bloomberg Law platform.
More broadly, while your search into secondary sources may span books and treatises, law review articles, and other legal analysis publications, make sure to vet all legal authorities for relevance.
[Research tip: It can be challenging to know all relevant keywords. Bloomberg Law provides a convenient search results page, where relevant article blurbs showcase additional keywords to explore. Based on targeted keywords, you can better gather the most relevant background information to assist with your analysis.]
Step 2: Develop a research plan
Identify primary law.
Primary sources can often be identified with research tools, such as court opinions searches for relevant case law. However, primary sources are not always apparent. In such cases, work your way backward. Reviewing secondary sources can help you identify a list of relevant primary law resources, like case law and related statutes. Keep your research organized and create a research plan to identify key resources. The research plan will list the relevant primary law and how the case or statute relates to your comprehensive legal analysis.
Save the relevant cases and statutes to a designated workspace. Bloomberg Law provides a streamlined and secure digital working area where you can add your notes as well as upload and store your drafts to keep organized.
Sample assignment – Step 2
Develop a research plan: In the assignment, some legal research may mention cases on what contacts a foreign defendant must have for the court to have personal jurisdiction over it, such as Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court . Read through these articles to reveal additional relevant cases and statutes to support your analysis.
Step 3: Confirm your legal memo research
Once you have your research plan, you want to verify all your research to make sure you’re relying on the most current case law available. Bloomberg Law’s litigation tools like the BCite citator tool help you work smarter and faster to validate your case law research—specifically, to determine whether a citation still represents good law and can be relied upon—and helps you to conduct additional research to find more cases and resources that support your legal memo’s findings and conclusions.
Robust verification should ensure you know the following information:
- Composite analysis – the overall treatment of the cited case by other courts.
- Direct history – How a cited case has moved through the court system.
- Case analysis – Cases that have subsequently cited to the case.
- Authorities – Cases relied on by the court in the main case.
- Citing documents – Legal materials, such as court opinions, administrative decisions, and secondary sources that reference your case by citation.
Sample assignment – Step 3
Confirm your research: To see whether Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court is still good law, you will of course need to pull up and review the case status. As part of this verification, you should review how other courts have treated the case. Once you have verified case status, you can better find additional secondary cases and other sources that cite to your case.
[Research tip: Carefully review whether case law citation can be relied on in your legal memo. While a legal memo is written for internal stakeholders like the assigning attorney, and not for the court system, it may nonetheless serve as a primer for future material.]
Attorneys may later incorporate any case law citations within the legal memo into court filings in support of their arguments. Given this broad potential reach, it’s imperative to verify all case law within your legal memo. Any unverified case law that later makes its way into public documents will result in an admonition from the court.
It is also important not to cherry-pick case citations. Remember the legal memo’s purpose is to inform, not to argue the facts. The legal memo must therefore provide an objective summary of all relevant case law and how it applies to the facts at hand. The omission of negative case law only compromises future legal strategy and heightens client legal exposure.
Step 4: Write an objective analysis
The legal memo showcases your critical legal thinking skills. Use your research plan and research materials to help organize your analysis. Remember to clearly state the law and the facts, in the active voice, and present your analysis in a logical manner.
Even with the IRAC legal memo format (Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion), it can be a challenge to write with precision. For example, it may not be clear which details to include in the statement of facts. Skilled legal memo writers often begin with the discussion. With complementary considerations of legal authority and factual criteria, this section clarifies the most legally significant facts and informs other earlier sections like the question presented and brief answer.
Across all stages, Bloomberg Law provides a vast trove of articles and resources to assist you in preparing your legal memo. Whether this is your first or fiftieth legal memo assignment, you can showcase clear and impartial legal analysis in your legal memo and other writing assignments in ways that establish you as a strong legal mind.
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Discover what courses or exams you need to complete the process
ASSIGNMENTS Get the education you need
Once the NCA finishes your assessment, we will send you a letter that describes the legal education you need (your assignments) to make sure your knowledge of Canadian law is similar to the knowledge of someone who got their law degree from an approved Canadian common law program.
To find out how the NCA assesses your education and experience, please see our Policies .
Once we have finished your assessment, you will usually follow one of three paths for meeting your assignments:
- Write and pass NCA exams , or
- Complete assigned subjects at a Canadian law school , or
- Complete a combination of 1 and 2 – that is, you may meet some requirements by writing NCA exams and the rest by completing related courses at a Canadian law school.
Generally, the NCA assigns these five core common law subject areas to ALL applicants. Click on each of the first five subjects, to learn why it is mandatory.
- Canadian Administrative Law
- Canadian Constitutional Law
- Canadian Criminal Law
- Canadian Professional Responsibility
- Foundations of Canadian Law
- NCA legal research and writing module with the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED)*
Legal research requirement
If your qualifications are assessed after January 1, 2022, you will also need to complete a course in legal research and writing offered either by an approved Canadian common law program or though the NCA legal research and writing module with the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) .
The legal tradition you studied will affect your assessment. This document explains how the NCA designates the legal tradition of a jurisdiction and provides a list of common law and mixed law jurisdictions.
NCA may also assign additional subjects as required based on your qualifications.
In some cases, the NCA will require you to complete your assignments by taking courses at a Canadian law school.
Language skills Applicants must be able to communicate in one of Canada’s two official languages: English and French. To find out if you meet our language requirements, the NCA may ask you to complete language testing. For more information, see section 11 or our Policy Manual , called Language Proficiency Requirement.
This document explains the minimum scores for each test accepted by the NCA to meet the language requirement.
When you must meet your assignments
You must successfully complete your assignments within five years of the date your assessment was issued. If you do not complete your assignments within that time, you may request an extension. To do so, send an e-mail to us providing the reasons why you need an extension.
Completing NCA exams
Here are some important things to keep in mind as you decide whether to take either the NCA exams or courses at a Canadian law school to meet your assigned requirements:
Cost Each exam costs $475.00 CDN, plus taxes, and you must pay by credit card. The same price applies each time you re-write an NCA exam.
Frequency You can take exams twelve times a year. Check the NCA exam schedule .
Registration You must register for NCA exams. Open and closing dates for registration are listed in the NCA schedule . You may not register once the deadline has passed.
Studying You must study on your own for the exams (i.e. without help from the NCA) and you are responsible for getting your own NCA study materials. You must also develop your own strategy for studying, but the NCA does offer sample exams and exam outlines (syllabi) . Some Canadian law schools also offer support courses or programs for NCA subjects .
Exam type Exams are proctored online, fact-based, open-book and three (3) hours long. To help, the NCA has prepared a guide: How to Answer Fact-based Law Exam Questions . NCA exams are only offered online.
Results Exams are graded on a pass/fail basis (i.e. 50 percent is a pass). We will release results about 10 to 12 weeks from the date of the last exam of each session.
Re-writes You may write NCA exams three times (a first attempt and two re-writes). If you do not succeed, you may ask for a fourth attempt as explained in section 17.2 (Examination Attempts) of the NCA Policies .
Cancellations You must cancel your exam no later than midnight (ET) the day before it is scheduled. The NCA will take an administrative fee of $50.00 CDN (plus taxes) from every refund. If you don’t cancel the exam and don’t show up to write it, your exam fee will not be refunded. Consult our refund policy .
Accommodations If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition, you may apply for accommodation to our Examinations Department .
Language The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is a bilingual organization, so you may write your exams in English or French. To write your exam in French, send a written request to our Examinations Department by the exam registration deadline.
See Exam rules and our FAQs for more details on NCA exams.
Taking courses at a Canadian law school
If the NCA assessment requires you to study at a Canadian law school, the number of subjects assigned will depend on your legal education and professional experience. There is a good chance you will have to study at a Canadian law school if you are a law graduate from a non-common law jurisdiction and you have had little or no experience with common law. This is also true if you have completed your law degree by distance education or online learning. If you must attend a Canadian law school – or if you are considering attending Canadian law school rather than taking NCA exams to meet your assigned requirements – you need to keep these things in mind:
Choose the right law school You must research Canadian law schools on your own and choose the one you wish to attend to meet your NCA requirements. Some schools reserve spaces for NCA applicants, but others do not. As you choose your law school, please see the Federation’s approved Canadian common law degree programs or our Assistance for NCA Students page.
Apply to law school You must apply to law school on your own. If you have questions about the cost of studies and admission requirements, you need to contact the law school directly.
Get your courses approved If you want to take courses at a Canadian law school, you MUST have the NCA approve your courses before you take them to make sure they meet our requirements. To get approval in advance, send us an email with your proposed plan of study: [email protected] .
Make sure we get your transcripts You must arrange for your law school to send official transcripts to the NCA so the information can be included in your file.
I studied in a mixed law jurisdiction
If you earned your education and experience in a mixed jurisdiction that includes common law, we will consider the common law content of your programs and experience. We ask most graduates from a mixed jurisdiction to show they are competent in all eight core subjects. This document explains how the NCA designates the legal tradition of a jurisdiction and provides a list of common law and mixed law jurisdictions.
- Canadian Administrative Law (mandatory)
- Canadian Constitutional Law (mandatory)
- Canadian Criminal Law (mandatory)
- Foundations of Canadian Law (mandatory)
- Canadian Professional Responsibility (mandatory)
- NCA legal research and writing module with the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) (mandatory)
Legal Research and Writing Requirement
If your qualifications are assessed after January 1, 2022, you will also need to complete a course in legal research and writing offered either by an approved Canadian common law program or though the NCA legal research and writing module with the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) .
I studied in a non-common law jurisdiction
If you are from a country with a legal tradition other than common law (e.g. civil law, religious law, etc.), you must obtain common law training or education. You can gain the required common law exposure by:
- taking an LL.M. program or by enrolling in individual courses
- being licensed as a lawyer, barrister or solicitor in a common law jurisdiction through successful completion of substantive course work or exams
- being certified as a paralegal or notary in a common law jurisdiction
In each case, the Executive Director has sole discretion to determine if some of the courses completed can satisfy requirements to proceed in the NCA assessment process
If you are enrolling in individual courses, once you successfully complete at least four common law subjects, the NCA will reconsider your file, as per NCA policy 15 (Assessment Reconsideration). We will then let you know which courses you still need to take to earn the NCA Certificate of Qualification.
Once you have the required exposure to common law, you can choose to satisfy the remaining subject requirements by writing NCA exams rather than taking law school courses, if you wish. Here is the NCA’s list of required subjects:
Pre-approval for Law School Courses Before you register for your courses, please have them approved by the NCA. For help, please see our Assistance for NCA students page. If you attend a Canadian law school, we will not require you to take a language test (each law school has their own language testing requirements). If you have any questions about the options available to you, please email us .
Legal Research and Writing Requirement If your qualifications are assessed after January 1, 2022, you will also need to complete a course in legal research and writing offered either by an approved Canadian common law program or though the NCA legal research and writing module with the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) .
You can take other common law subjects – such as Family Law, Commercial Law or Remedies – to get exposure to common law concepts. However, you will need to show competency in the above eight subjects before we issue you with a Certificate of Qualification. You must complete the five mandatory Canadian subjects through an approved Canadian common law program or by NCA exam (only after you have successfully completed at least four law school courses).
I studied in a Canadian civil law jurisdiction
If you hold a Canadian civil law degree – LL.B., LL.L., Diplôme d’études supérieures spécialisées en Common Law nord-américaine (DESS) program of the Université de Montréal or the Diplôme de deuxième cycle de common law et droit transnational (DDCCLDT) program of the Université de Sherbrooke – the NCA will give you full credit for the courses you completed in federal law. We will usually ask you to show competence in the following subjects:
- Canadian Professional Responsibility (if you did not successfully complete it during your Canadian civil law education)
If you have a Qualifying Law Degree from a program at a Canadian civil law school and hold a licence from the Barreau du Quebec, the NCA will automatically issue a Certificate of Qualification upon review of your completed application.
Apply to the NCA and submit all required documentation.
I completed a law degree through distance or on-line education
If you earned your law degree through distance or online education, please see section 7. (Mode of Study) of the NCA’s Policies . This policy outlines the NCA’s In-person Instruction requirements.
In-person study or interactive online instruction completed as part of a distance education program
If you took your law degree through distance education or a program that does not meet the interactive learning requirement, you must successfully complete two (2) years of In-person instruction in a law Program acceptable to the NCA, in addition to any other requirements identified by the Executive Director. The two-year requirement will be reduced to one (1) year In-person if you hold a law degree from a program that provides two (2) years of Interactive Online Instruction. Interactive online instruction must be part of a program that consists of at least one year of in person instruction and must provide opportunities for students to develop legal problem solving and legal communications skills and include six of the eight criteria listed in NCA’s Policy at section 7.2, Interactive Learning Requirement. As part of your study, you must complete the following NCA mandatory Canadian subjects represented in bold with an asterisk. The subjects not represented in bold with an asterisk may be assigned:
- Canadian Administrative Law *
- Canadian Constitutional Law *
- Canadian Criminal Law *
- Foundations of Canadian Law *
- Canadian Professional Responsibility *
- NCA legal research and writing module with the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) *
- Business Organizations
- Civil Procedure
- Commercial Law
- Real Estate
NOTE: If you received instruction at a local learning centre, whether in-person or interactive, it will not be considered as meeting the interactive learning requirement and will not reduce the two-year in-person requirement in section 7.3.
Your options to meet the assignments
You could consider any one of the following three options to complete your two years of in-person instruction:
- Either one year of a course-based LL.M., plus a Legal Practice Course (LPC) or a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
- Two one-year course-based LL.M. programs. If you choose this option, you could complete a course-based LL.M. at any approved law school in any common law jurisdiction.
- One two-year course-based LL.M. program.
To meet a one-year In-Person requirement , you could choose any of the following options:
- One year of a course-based LL.M., at any approved law school in any common law jurisdiction.
- The Legal Practise Course (LPC) or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) either in England or another common law jurisdiction.
- Courses in a common law J.D. or LL.B.
Additional Legal Studies completed as part of a one (1) year Program (e.g. LL.M) must consist of no less than fifty percent (50%) In-person Instruction with the remainder delivered through Interactive Online Instruction that meets the criteria outlined under paragraph 7.2(II).
Please note that, in all cases, you must take the five mandatory Canadian subjects listed below at an approved Canadian law school. If you have already completed the two-year in-person or online interactive requirement in another country, you may write the corresponding NCA examinations.
Get your courses approved
If you want to take courses at a Canadian law school, you MUST have the NCA approve your courses before you take them to make sure they meet our requirements. To get approval in advance, send an email with your proposed plan of study to [email protected] .
Apply for your Certificate of Qualification once you have successfully completed your assignments.
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Online law schools could win ABA blessing in major policy shift
Signage is seen outside of the American Bar Association (ABA) in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly Acquire Licensing Rights
Nov 20 (Reuters) - The American Bar Association’s legal education arm is considering extending accreditation to fully online law schools, marking a major shift from its longstanding prioritization of in-person teaching.
The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar voted Friday to gather public comments on proposed changes to its standards that would enable new and existing law schools with no physical campus to apply for accreditation.
Only law schools with brick-and-mortar locations are currently eligible for ABA accreditation. The ABA has allowed a growing number of those schools to offer fully or mostly online Juris Doctor programs alongside their residential ones, but fully online schools have remained ineligible to apply for the ABA’s stamp of approval.
Daniel Thies, chairperson of the ABA Council’s Strategic Review Committee, on Friday called the proposal to accredit online law schools a “significant change” that could help lower the cost of a legal education. He noted that online J.D. programs offered by ABA-accredited law schools generally charge the same tuition for online and residential students.
“Likely, that’s because they’re all offered by brick-and-mortar law schools that have all the same expenses associated with brick-and-mortar law schools,” Thies said.
ABA accreditation would be a boon for the small cohort of existing online law schools because their graduates would be able to sit for the bar exam in any state. Currently only California offers the bar for graduates of non-ABA accredited law schools.
Thies suggested that some traditional law schools may object to the change for fear of added competition. But longstanding perceptions that distance education is lower quality than in-person teaching have diminished significantly following the rapid shift to online education during the COVID-19 pandemic, several ABA council members said Friday.
Purdue Global Law School is the oldest online law school — it was founded in 1998 as the Concord Law School before its acquisition by Purdue in 2017. There are a handful of other fully online law schools scattered across the country.
Annual tuition for Purdue’s part-time online J.D. program is about $13,500. By comparison, annual tuition for ABA-accredited Southwestern Law School’s new fully online J.D. program is the same as its residential program — $38,944 for part-time students.
“I am very happy to see that the ABA is finally considering moving in this direction,” said Purdue Law Dean Martin Pritikin said Monday. “Virtually every other field of higher education has been quicker to embrace online learning.”
First all-remote, full-time law degree with ABA blessing set to start next fall
Online law school seeks bar exam eligibility in Indiana
Get the latest legal news of the day delivered straight to your inbox with The Afternoon Docket .
Reporting by Karen Sloan
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at [email protected]
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Florida dentist convicted in 2014 slaying of his former brother-in-law, a prominent professor
Charlie Adelson licks his lips as his defense attorney Daniel Rashbaum whispers to him before the verdict is read Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in Tallahassee. A jury has convicted the Florida dentist of murder and other charges in the 2014 slaying of his former brother-in-law, a prominent professor killed following a bitter custody battle with the dentist’s sister. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool)
Charlie Adelson rubs his face as he waits for his defense attorney Daniel Rashbaum to present closing arguments in his trial for the murder of Dan Markel on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla. Adelson, a Florida dentist on trial in a murder-for-hire case involving the 2014 slaying of his ex-brother-in-law, claims he was a victim of extortion by the killers. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool)
Charlie Adelson listens as he is found guilty on all three charges against him for the murder of Dan Markel on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in Tallahassee. A jury has convicted the Florida dentist of murder and other charges in the 2014 slaying of his former brother-in-law, a prominent professor killed following a bitter custody battle with the dentist’s sister. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool)
Phil Markel buries his face in his hands after hearing a jury found Charlie Adelson guilty on all three counts for the murder of his son, Dan Markel, on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in Tallahassee. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool)
Ruth Markel shares a statement she had prepared with the media after Charlie Adelson was found guilty on all three charges for the murder of their son Dan Markel on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in Tallahassee. A jury has convicted Adelson, a Florida dentist of murder and other charges in the 2014 slaying of his former brother-in-law, a prominent professor killed following a bitter custody battle with the dentist’s sister. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool)
Phil Markel responds to a question outside the courtroom where a jury found Charlie Adelson guilty on all three charges for the murder of his son, Dan Markel, on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in Tallahassee. A jury has convicted Adelson, a Florida dentist of murder and other charges in the 2014 slaying of his former brother-in-law, a prominent professor killed following a bitter custody battle with the dentist’s sister. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool)/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool)
Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman presents her closing arguments in the trial for Charlie Adelson on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla. Adelson, a Florida dentist on trial in a murder-for-hire case involving the 2014 slaying of his ex-brother-in-law, claims he was a victim of extortion by the killers. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool)
Defense attorney Daniel Rashbaum presents his closing arguments in the trial for his client Charlie Adelson on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla. Adelson, a Florida dentist on trial in a murder-for-hire case involving the 2014 slaying of his ex-brother-in-law, claims he was a victim of extortion by the killers. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool)
Shelly Markel, left, holds hands with her mother Ruth across Phil Markel’s lap as they wait for the verdict to be read in Charlie Adelson’s trial for the murder of Dan Markel on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in Tallahassee. A jury has convicted Adelson, a Florida dentist of murder and other charges in the 2014 slaying of his former brother-in-law, a prominent professor killed following a bitter custody battle with the dentist’s sister. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool)
Assistant State Attorney Sarah Dugan listens as her partner, ASA Georgia Cappleman responds to the media after winning their case against Charlie Adelson on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in Tallahassee. A jury has convicted Adelson, a Florida dentist of murder and other charges in the 2014 slaying of his former brother-in-law, a prominent professor killed following a bitter custody battle with the dentist’s sister. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool)
Defense attorney Daniel Rashbaum shakes Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman’s hand after his client, Charlie Adelson, was found guilty for the murder of Dan Markel on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in Tallahassee. A jury has convicted Adelson, a Florida dentist of murder and other charges in the 2014 slaying of his former brother-in-law, a prominent professor killed following a bitter custody battle with the dentist’s sister. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool)
Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman addresses the media after she and ASA Sarah Dugan won their case against Charlie Adelson for the murder of Dan Markel on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in Tallahassee. A jury has convicted Adelson, a Florida dentist of murder and other charges in the 2014 slaying of his former brother-in-law, a prominent professor killed following a bitter custody battle with the dentist’s sister. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool)
After Charlie Adelson was found guilty on all three charges, Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman speaks with Dan Markel’s parents, Phil and Ruth Markel on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in Tallahassee. A jury has convicted Adelson, a Florida dentist of murder and other charges in the 2014 slaying of his former brother-in-law, a prominent professor killed following a bitter custody battle with the dentist’s sister. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP, Pool)
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A jury on Monday convicted a Florida dentist of murder in the shooting death of his former brother-in-law, a prominent professor outside his Tallahassee home in 2014 following a bitter custody battle with the dentist’s sister.
The verdict signaled jurors believed the prosecutors’ contentions that the defendant, Charles Adelson, paid to have Florida State University law professor Dan Markel killed that year.
Adelson was convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and solicitation of first-degree murder, The Tallahassee Democrat reported after jurors returned their verdict Monday afternoon.
Markel’s parents, Ruth and Phil Markel, and his sister, Shelly Markel, attended much of the trial and spoke to a group of reporters after Monday’s verdict.
“This has been a really long and terrible ordeal for all of us,” Shelly Markel said. “It’s taken a long toll on our lives. And there’s a real sense of relief today.”
Adelson’s sister Wendi Adelson had divorced from Markel and shared custody of their two children. She wanted to move from Tallahassee in the north of the state to South Florida to be closer to her family. However, a judge at the time ruled that Wendi Adelson couldn’t relocate without Markel’s consent and he refused, saying she couldn’t move the children to Miami.
Prosecutors told jurors at trial that Adelson paid to have the prominent professor killed and that he used his girlfriend, Katherine Magbanua, to hire the father of her two children, Sigfredo Garcia, to commit the murder . They said Garcia enlisted the help of his childhood friend, Luis Rivera. Magbanua and Garcia were convicted of first-degree murder and Rivera is serving a 19-year sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for testifying against them.
Markel was shot as he sat in his car outside his home.
In a nine-year-old case with many twists and turns, Adelson took the stand on Thursday as the only defense witness at his trial, saying prosecutors got the facts of the case wrong. He said in his testimony that he felt a sense of relief to final tell the public that he was a victim of extortion and not the mastermind who hired the hitmen who shot Markel.
He further testified that he had nothing to do with the killing and that he was stunned when Magbanua came to his home and said her friends were the killers. The dentist said she told him he needed to pay more than $300,000 in 48 hours or he also would be killed.
Prosecutors told jurors in closing arguments that there were far too many inconsistencies with Adelson’s trial testimony.