Experiential Curriculum

At Syracuse Law - we are committed to delivering students a sound legal education and practical hands-on learning experience. Stressing litigation techniques, client advocacy, and critical writing skills, Syracuse Law focuses on each individual student’s success. Our focus is a curriculum with skills-building and opportunities for experiential learning which has resulted in the introduction of new courses as well as the reworking of existing curriculum. We offer students various experiential education opportunities in clinic and externship programs both inside and outside of the United States.

Our move to Dineen Hall this fall has brought students, staff, and faculty together creating a collaborative and connected experience. This state-of-the-art facility offers an enhanced learning environment with cutting-edge technology for teaching, research, and programs - helping prepare students to become successful legal professionals.

Syracuse Law students create their own learning experience through curriculum, trial advocacy, clinics, externships and international experiential education -  helping them gain practical skills for their legal careers.

The curriculum provides a multitude of opportunities to focus on being profession ready upon graduation. Innovative approaches to experiential education in traditional doctrinal courses have been integrated throughout the curriculum. Skills-building, professionalism, and applied learning are essential to a successful legal education. In addition to the law clinics, the externship programs, and trial advocacy courses and programs, traditional doctrinal courses with experiential learning components include:

ADVANCED CRIMINAL EVIDENCE: Doctrinal course with experiential component where students draft motions, argue motions,
develop cross examinations based on transcripts of actual direct examinations.

COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS: Doctrinal course with experiential component learning to draft documents.

CORPORATE FINANCING TRANSACTIONS: Teaches corporate finance by guiding students through a syndicated commercial loan transaction, including drafting of loan documentation and complex agreements.

DISABILITY LAW: Doctrinal course with experiential component of evaluating accessibility of local buildings.

EMPLOYMENT
LAW: Doctrinal course with experiential component where students can represent a client at an Unemployment Insurance Board hearing.

ESTATE PLANNING: Doctrinal course incorporating full range of skills training including interviewing, counseling, drafting.

FIRST YEAR: Several first year faculty incorporate drafting of documents and motions into their core courses.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE: Full-class simulation exercises.

INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE DISABILITY LAW: Research projects have been accomplished for the UN, the World Bank, Disabled People’s Organizations, and NGOs.

LAND USE AND ZONING COURSE: Doctrinal course with experiential component where students produce educational materials, including videos, for claimants at local Zoning Board of Appeals.

LAWYER AS NEGOTIATOR: Intensive simulation course.

LEGAL COUNSELING COURSE (NEW): Theoretical framework and complex simulations.

LEGAL INTERVIEWING COURSE (NEW): Provides theoretical framework and live client interviewing through collaboration with local Legal Aid Society.

Students enrolling in a clinic represent clients and practice law under the supervision of law school faculty. To encourage development as competent, professional and thoughtful lawyers, the clinics include close supervision and rigorous feedback and critique. The student to faculty ratio in our clinics is 10:1.

Students practice in a range of settings, from city, state, and federal courts, to proceedings before the IRS and arbitration panels. They also assist community organizations in securing nonprofit corporation status and in addressing a range of other legal issues, and often conduct community education programs.

Students Learn:

  • Lawyering skills
  • Substantive Law
  • Collaboration
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Law Practice Management

BANKRUPTCY LAW: Student attorneys represent indigent individuals in need of bankruptcy protection, practicing in front of the Bankruptcy Court. Learn more.

CHILDREN’S RIGHTS AND FAMILY LAW: Student attorneys represent families and children in federal and state courts and before administrative agencies and engage in non-litigation legal advocacy and educational outreach. Student attorneys provide legal assistance in the areas of custody and visitation issues, child and spousal support, domestic violence, matrimonial matters, general and special education issues and other children’s rights issues. Learn more.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT LAW: One of the oldest Community Development Law Clinics in the nation, having been the second such clinic when established in 1988. Student attorneys represent community organizations improving disinvested neighborhoods and for-profit start-up businesses for low income people. The only transactional law clinic, the student attorneys practice corporate law, tax law, intellectual property law, and real estate law. The systemic problems of poverty are explored and approaches to lawyering considered with a focus on social and economic justice. Learn more.

CRIMINAL DEFENSE: Student attorneys defend clients in Syracuse City Court. Recently, student attorneys have also filed a petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court and have submitted an Amicus Curiae brief to the Court. The student attorneys have worked on a Presidential Pardon and have filed a motion for post-conviction relief for a client threatened with deportation. Learn more.

DISABILITY RIGHTS: Student attorneys represent individuals with disabilities who are denied their rights because of their disability. DRC student attorneys practice in federal and state courts, and before administrative agencies in a broad range of disability matters, including employment, access to government services and places of public accommodation, and prisoner rights. The Disability Rights Clinic is taught by a faculty member who is deaf, one of the few deaf law professors in the country. Learn more.

ELDER LAW: Student attorneys engage in a general practice on behalf of the elderly. Areas of practice typically include health insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance), access to medical care, advance directives, social security issues, consumer law, housing law, and more. Student attorneys have substantial opportunities to interview and counsel clients, conduct fact investigations, grapple with thorny ethical issues unique to elderly clients, and advocate for clients in a variety of settings, including administrative proceedings. Learn more.

LOW INCOME TAXPAYER: Student attorneys offer legal assistance to lower-income taxpayers who have controversies with the Internal Revenue Service. The controversies may include collection, examination and appeals matters. Student attorneys represent clients in administrative proceedings before the I.R.S. and in judicial proceedings before the United States Tax Court or Federal District Courts. The LITC students have recovered almost $1,000,000 for their clients over the course of their representation. Learn more.

SECURITIES ARBITRATION AND CONSUMER LAW: Student attorneys assist small investors and other consumers with problems in the financial and consumer markets. Whether against Wall Street or Wal-Mart, student attorneys fight fraud and other improper conduct on the part of stockbrokers, used car sales people, and unscrupulous sellers. The student attorneys have recovered almost $500,000 in awards to clients or debt reduction for clients. Learn more.

VETERANS LAW: Student attorneys assist veterans and their families who are seeking benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) or upgrading military discharges through various military branches. Students will engage in fact investigation, draft briefs, and may have the opportunity to orally advocate for clients. Learn more.

The Externship Program provides students with the opportunities to work with and as lawyers in various placements and locations from local CNY placements, to New York City, to Washington, D.C., and more as we continue expand our externship offerings. Each program consists of the Externship Placement, where students work under the supervision of lawyers and the Externship Seminar, which addresses lawyering as a profession. Placement areas include: judicial chambers, government offices, public interest firms, not-for-profit law organizations, university offices, general counsels, corporate counsels, law firms, and more. Students may participate in the programs during the academic year and/or during the summer.

Students will:

  • Identify legal problems and mechanisms for solving those problems.
  • Prepare cases for presentation before judicial and administrative bodies.
  • Identify and resolve ethical problems arising in cases.
  • Negotiate, conduct legal research, and draft documents.
  • Interview and counsel clients.
  • Acquire knowledge in the substantive areas of law practiced at each placement.

DCEx: Work full-time over the course of a semester and explore the unique legal market of our nation’s capital.

NYCEx: Gain full-time legal experience and network in the Big Apple.

NYEx: Take advantage of our local legal communities and networks in Central New York from Rochester to Binghamton.

LONDONEx PROGRAM:

Syracuse Law proudly offers one of the nation’s longest-running Law in London programs, where students learn from London’s leading legal practitioners. During an eight-week summer experience, students gain international exposure to clients, partner with professionals for personalized mentoring, and enjoy boundless cultural opportunities - in one of the world’s most dynamic cities. Learn more.

SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE IN SOUTH AFRICA:

This course includes a week-long visit to South Africa to study the constitutional, economic, and social history of South Africa as it has moved from apartheid to a multi-racial republic. In South Africa, students visit the Constitutional Court; government agencies including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration; several townships and municipalities; and a historically Black and historically White University. The students meet with Constitutional Court justices, government officials, and University faculty involved in social and economic justice issues and learn about the entrenched systemic poverty, racism, and injustice that is the legacy of apartheid, and the efforts including legislation, policies, and programs to reverse the effects of apartheid. Due to the success of our first trip in the Spring of 2013, a second trip was held in Spring 2014 and the next trip is planned for Spring 2016.

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The New York State Bar Association has cited Syracuse Law as the best trial skills law school in New York State 11 times in recent years by awarding us their coveted Tiffany Cup. Syracuse Law boasts a powerful trial advocacy program, which was honored by the American College of Trial Lawyers with the Emil Gumpert Award for best law school advocacy program in the United States. Each semester, Syracuse Law offers at least four sections of Trial Practice and also offers Appellate Advocacy
Skills courses.

Trial practice courses are popular elective offerings among our students - experienced trial lawyers, judges, and college faculty members teach elements of trial process and techniques. Advanced trial practice courses concentrate on the communicative aspects of litigation, including jury selection, expert witness examination, direct and cross-examination, and summation. Trial practice courses culminate in simulated jury trials, with students demonstrating skills learned during the semester.

Moot Court is an important part of legal training at Syracuse Law. The student-run Moot Court Honor Society selects problems
for the many intraschool competitions and invites students to compete in briefing and oral argument. Students who are selected for the competitions must prepare both sides of the case because a flip of the coin decides who argues each side in the actual competition. Because of its extensive advocacy skills program, Syracuse dominates national moot court competitions. In the past 16 years, its teams have won 3 national trial championships, 15 northeast regional first place awards, and 5 best-advocate-in-the-nation awards. Five times in the past 9 years Syracuse Law has been invited to the National Invitational Tournament of Champions, featuring the nation’s 12 best teams. Syracuse law students also participate annually in a host of international moot court competitions. Working closely with faculty coaches, year after year the select group of students continues to uphold the quality
reputations of previous classes.