Becoming a lawyer requires academic rigor, disciplined study, and a commitment to critical thinking and action. Students at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law also enjoy being a member of an academic community that is supportively competitive while developing lifelong relationships with peers, faculty and alumni.

First Year

First-year classes cover the fundamental legal concepts that form the basis of all Anglo-American law. Our Lawyering & Legal Reasoning course (LLR) is unique to Cumberland School of Law and is recognized as the time when students truly learn to “think like a lawyer.” Other first-year coursework emphasizes:

  • Legal analysis
  • Legal writing
  • Research
  • Lawyering skills

Second & Third Year

Second- and third-year students typically take 15-16 hours each fall and spring semester. Course selection during these years is more flexible to allow for elective courses in specialized areas.

Areas of Specialization

  • Business and Commercial Law
  • Civil Litigation
  • Civil Rights Law
  • Criminal Defense and Prosecution
  • Corporate Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Family Law 
  • Health Law
  • Intellectual Property
  • International Law
  • Municipal Law
  • Public Interest
  • Skills Development
  • Sports Law
  • Taxation
  • Trial Advocacy
  • Trusts and Estates

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Learning Outcomes and Performance Criteria for the J.D. Program

The law faculty has established the following student learning outcomes and performance criteria for Cumberland’s J.D. program of legal education. Upon successful completion of a J.D. degree, Cumberland’s graduates will demonstrate the following skills, knowledge, and values at the level needed for effective and ethical participation in the legal profession.

Learning Outcome 1: Graduates will demonstrate competent knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law.

Graduates will demonstrate competent knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law by

  1. Identifying and applying foundational concepts of business organizations; civil procedure; constitutional law; contracts; commercial law; criminal law; evidence; property; professional responsibilities; torts; and wills, trusts, and estates.
  2. Identifying and applying legal doctrine and theory in other areas of law not otherwise required by the law school curriculum so that graduates can productively apply the law in practice.

Learning Outcome 2: Graduates will be able to engage in legal analysis and reasoning to resolve legal problems.

Graduates will demonstrate competency in legal analysis and reasoning skills by

  1. Critically reading applicable authorities, identifying key rules within each authority, and synthesizing multiple authorities into a cohesive rule.
  2. Applying rules to relevant facts to support a clear conclusion, by analogizing and distinguishing cases and by analyzing all sides of an issue.
  3. Using legal, policy, and practical considerations to determine and explain how case-based or hypothetical fact scenarios will likely be resolved.

Learning Outcome 3: Graduates will be able to undertake effective legal research.

Graduates will demonstrate competency in legal research skills by

  1. Identifying relevant legal issues raised by clients’ legal problems.
  2. Identifying and effectively employing legal research tools. 
  3. Distinguishing binding authorities from persuasive ones and appropriately assessing their weight.

Learning Outcome 4: Graduates will be able to communicate effectively in the legal context in both written and oral forms.

Graduates will demonstrate competency in written and oral communication by

  1. Writing documents that are clear, concise, well-reasoned, organized, professional in tone, appropriate to the audience and the circumstances, and if appropriate, contain proper citation to authority. 
  2. Speaking in a clear, concise, well-organized, and professional manner that is appropriate to the audience and the circumstances. 
  3. Actively listening to clients, colleagues, judges, and others.

Learning Outcome 5: Graduates will be able to advise clients appropriately, with a focus on problem solving.

Graduates will demonstrate competency in advising clients appropriately by

  1. Identifying a client’s legal and practical problems, including non-legal interests and effects on other people, through attentive listening. 
  2. Determining the steps necessary to obtain and investigate facts relevant to their client’s case.
  3. Selecting and using legal research tools, strategies, and methods to identify legal authority that is relevant to actual or hypothetical fact scenarios.
  4. Using basic professional skills employed by lawyers, in actual or hypothetical fact scenarios, such as interviewing, counseling, analyzing data, negotiating, or drafting formal or technical legal documents, legislation, or policy positions.
  5. Advocating persuasively to achieve a client’s objectives or otherwise solve a problem in a legal context or advance a legal position in actual or hypothetical fact scenarios.
  6. Generating alternative solutions and strategies to solve clients’ problems within legal and ethical boundaries. 
  7. Informing and counseling clients about the legal and non-legal ramifications of a decision. 

Learning Outcome 6: Graduates will be able to exercise proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system.

Graduates will demonstrate competency in fundamental skills in exercising their professional and ethical responsibilities by

  1. Demonstrating knowledge of the rules and canons that govern lawyers.
  2. Using and applying the laws governing lawyers to recognize ethical and other professional dilemmas.
  3. Exercising professional judgment through conduct consistent with the legal profession’s values and standards, including exhibiting civility and treating others with respect.

Learning Outcome 7: Graduates will demonstrate competency in other professional skills and values needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession.

Graduates will demonstrate competency in other professional skills and values by

  1. Conducting themselves in a professional manner. 
  2. Collaborating with others in legal settings.
  3. Recognizing practical considerations, such as costs and effects on other people, of a chosen legal resolution and considering alternative dispute resolutions when appropriate.
  4. Participating in opportunities to increase their professional knowledge and skills.
  5. Exhibiting self-directed learning skills that will allow them to understand areas of the law and legal practice with which they were previously unfamiliar.
  6. Identifying ways to meet clients’ goals and interests while adhering to the basic economics of law practice.