First-Year Summer Courses
Entering first-year students are offered the opportunity to take two summer school courses that give an introduction to the legal process and provide a total of five hours of law school credit.
This introduction to law school has benefits such as establishing early friendships, study habits and relationships with professors. Students also benefit from the experience of creating course outlines and completing two law school final exams. Students who participate in the summer program give high praise to their “readiness quotient” when tackling a full course load in the fall.
Professor Michael E. DeBow teaches legal process (2 credit hours). Public law process is taught by Assistant Professor Belle Howe Stoddard (3 credit hours). These professors coordinate their courses to be complimentary by using a single textbook and aligning the requirements for project deadlines.
Legal process focuses on the “common law” aspect of the U.S. legal system. At the time the British colonies in America declared their independence from Great Britain, the newly constituted states decided to continue to use British “common law.” In this course, students explore the significance of this fact by looking at the judicial foundations of the law of property, contract, and tort—the areas that make up the bulk of the first-year curriculum. Along the way, students contrast case law with legislation. The textbook used is Introduction to Legal Method and Process (Thomson-West 3rd, 4th or 5th edition) by Berch, Berch and Spritzer. In addition, students read a good deal of online material. The course meets during June and concludes with a written exam.
Public Law Process (Law 624)
Public law process offers an overview of the process of statutory construction, including case analysis, case briefing and legal research. It also includes an introduction to criminal procedure and administrative procedure. Students are introduced to legal research using Cumberland School of Law’s Beeson Law Library and online research services such as LexisNexis, WestLaw and Bloomberg. Representatives from those research services give students information and access to the online research systems at the beginning of the summer program. Students thus begin law school with their passwords and accelerated online skills. Research librarians introduce students to “the books,” library computer research aids and e-services for legal writing. The pertinent portions of Introduction to the Legal System and Process are used as well as other selected readings. This course meets during June and July. The final written exam is in mid-July.