Howard University

Law School Required Curriculum

Civil Procedure I (4 credits) The course introduces the first-year law student to the modern system of civil litigation, with particular emphasis on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Particular topics may vary, but generally include the basic features of an adversarial system for dispute resolution and its alternatives, pleading, joinder of claims and parties, discovery, pre-trial and post-trial motion practice, and concepts of personal and subject matter jurisdiction.

Constitutional Law I (3 credits) The course examines the basic structures of the American constitutional system, the historical development of the U.S. Supreme Court as an institution, the philosophical justifications for the exercise of judicial review and judicial authority by judges in a democratic society, and the various methods of legal reasoning that are used to interpret the Constitution. Among the topics to be examined are judicial review, the commerce clause, separation of powers, and other legislative powers.

Contracts (5 credits) The course, taught over two semesters, covers the law of contracts, including offer and acceptance, the rules of bargaining, performance and breach, third- party beneficiaries, and assignments. As the first commercial law course, the course also introduces sections of the Uniform Commercial Code, particularly sales under Article II.

Criminal Law (3 credits) The course provides an introduction to the basic principles of the substantive criminal law, as well as the elements of some common crimes to illustrate those basic principles. Topics covered include actus reus, mens rea, homicide, self- defense, conspiracy, and attempts. The course emphasizes the skill of statutory interpretation and a comparison between common law and Model Penal Code approaches to criminal liability.

Legal Method/Civil Rights (2 credits) The course is designed to introduce students to legal methodology, using both constitutional and statutory civil rights cases. The course provides instruction in the basics of legal analysis, including how to read, brief, and synthesize cases; apply legal rules to facts; and interpret statutes. The course closely examines a number of U.S. Supreme Court civil rights cases. These same cases are used to discuss the Court’s use of, among other things, history, psychology, and moral philosophy in crafting and applying legal rules. Special attention is paid to the role of history in legal analysis, emphasizing the political, social, and economic problems that led to the selected cases. A major purpose of this history is to further a vision of professional responsibility consistent with the historical role of the law school. This review should accomplish two additional goals: first, to demonstrate the relationship between historical events and legal change, and second, to explain the special historical role of Howard University School of Law in the civil rights movement and in related efforts to use law as a means of social change.

Legal Reasoning, Research and Writing (4 credits) The course teaches students, over two semesters, the basics of legal reasoning through a series of research and writing exercises. Students learn how to use available research resources, including computer data bases. The course introduces the writing of objective legal memoranda, client letters, and advocacy briefs for the trial court level. As part of the research and writing assignments, students are introduced to various aspects of client representation and the role of the lawyer in the legal system. Students also are introduced to basic techniques of oral argument.

Real Property (4 credits) The course covers the principles of real property law, including possession and purchases; commercial transactions in land, including estates and rights in realty; landlord/tenant relationships and problems; and land conveyance and land-use controls.

Torts (4 credits) The course begins with a historic view of the evolution of torts, focusing on the concepts of trespass and trespass on the case. The course then examines the legal bases for liability and the policy underlying such liability for civil wrongs. Thereafter, liability for the wrongful invasion of the legally protected interest of another is explored, focusing on the major specific intentional torts and negligence. The course also explores the principle of liability without fault and examines the areas of products liability, invasion of privacy, nuisance, deceit, malicious prosecution, and interference with contractual relations.


Constitutional Law II (3 credits) The course examines the constitutional norms of equal protection and due process, with a focus on such issues as racial discrimination, sex discrimination, abortion, voting rights, and disproportionate burdens on the poor. The course also examines the first Amendment freedoms of speech, press, association, or religion.

Legal Writing II (2 credits) The course explores methods of persuasion. Students participate in numerous practice arguments. In addition, students are required to write an appellate brief on a relatively sophisticated problem, which must be rewritten after comment and evaluation by the instructor. Oral arguments based on the briefs conclude the course.


Evidence (4 credits) The course examines the system of rules by which the admission of proof at the trial of a lawsuit is regulated, including judicial notice, hearsay, qualifications and privileges of witnesses, conduct of examinations, competency of witnesses, relevancy and materiality of offers of proof, legal presumptions and the burden of proof, and functions of judge and the jury.

Professional Responsibility (3 credits) The course examines the traditions of the legal profession, its obligations in a democratic society, including problems of pro bono practice, representation of minority groups, the unauthorized practice of law, fee determination, bar organization, and function. Special attention is devoted to the canons of legal ethics and disciplinary actions.


Legal Writing III This requirement is designed to further enhance the writing and research skills developed in the first and second years. Before graduation, each student must complete a research project on an in-depth study of a specialized topic and must produce a written product that analyzes the issues involved and sets forth supportable conclusions. The written product must be completed in consultation with a full-time member of the faculty who has agreed to assist the student.

Skills Course Requirement
Each student is required to take one course designed to assist the person in developing proficiency in certain professional skills that are essential to the lawyer. Students may satisfy the skills requirement with one of the following courses:

Advanced Corporate Problems Alternative Dispute Resolution Appellate Advocacy Civil Litigation Clinic Civil Rights Planning Collective Bargaining and Arbitration Criminal Justice Litigation Interviewing, Counseling, and Negotiating Legal Drafting (formerly, Legal Writing) Pretrial Litigation Practice Trial Advocacy

Legal Writing Program

The Howard University School of Law curriculum includes a mandatory Legal Research and Writing Program (LRW) comprising three parts: Legal Reasoning, Research, and Writing (LRRW); Legal Writing II; and the Legal Writing III scholarly writing requirement. The Director of the LRW Program is Professor e. christi cunninghmam.

1. Legal Reasoning, Research, and Writing

The first part of the HUSL LRW Program is Legal Reasoning, Research, and Writing (LRRW), a four-credit, year-long, first year course. LRRW introduces students to some fundamentals of legal reasoning, to basic sources and processes of legal research, and to some basic forms of practice-oriented legal writing. Fundamentals of legal reasoning introduced include case analysis, fact analysis, rule-based reasoning (including the use application of law to facts (the legal syllogism)), case synthesis, staturory analysis, and analogyzing and distinguishing cases. The basic forms of practice-oriented documents introduced are objective memoranda of law, client opinion letters, and trial court motion practice briefs.

Additional themes are woven throughout the course including strong doses of professionalism and the problem-solving and the plan-do-reflect approaches to lawyering. A few other lawyering skills are briefly introduced, including oral argument, interviewing, negotiation, and legal drafting.

2. Legal Writing II

The second part of the HUSL LRW Program is Legal Writing II, a required two-credit, semester-long course taken either in the fall or spring of the student’s second year. (Successful completion of LRRW is a prerequisite for LW II.) Legal Writing II is designed to reinforce and deepen the students’ knowledge of and ability to perform legal reasoning, research, and writing. The primary projects are writing both an appellant’s brief and an appellee’s brief on relatively difficult legal issues, followed by an oral argument on the briefs.

3. Legal Writing III Scholarly Writing Requirement

The third part of the HUSL LRW Program is the Legal Writing III scholarly writing requirement. While LRRW and LW II focus primarily on more pratice-oriented aspects of legal reasoning, research, and writing, the LW III requirement focuses on scholarly legal writing. Legal Writing III is not a particular course and is not taught by LRW faculty in LRRW and LW II. Instead, it is a significant scholarly writing requirement under which each student is required to complete, under supervision of a full-time member of the faculty (1) in-depth research in a specialized area, with (2) a written product in which the issues involved are fully analyzed and supportable conclusions articulated. Typically, the Legal Writing III requirement will be satisfied in the student’s third year (1) in a seminar course, (2) through an independent study, or (3) through writing an article under faculty supervision in connection with meeting the requirements of membership on the Howard Law Journal.

The supervising faculty member is responsible for teaching his or her students the requirements of scholarly legal writing. The distinctions between practice-oriented legal writing (taught in LRRW and LW II) and scholarly legal writing are not taught in LRRW or LW II.

To satisfy the Legal Writing III requirement, the written product must meet the following criteria:

Each written product must be completed in consultation with a full-time member of the faculty who has agreed to assist the student;

A minimum grade of 75 must be earned on the written product;

The written product must use proper legal citation form, give proper attribution to the work of others, and be the equivalent of no less than twenty-five (25) double spaced typewritten pages with customary margins; and

Each student is required to submit an outline or outline substitute (such as a detailed thesis statement and annotated bibliography) and at least one draft of the written product to the supervising faculty member prior to submission of the completed written product.

The completed written product is to be submitted to the supervising faculty member at the time set by the faculty member, but in no event shall it be submitted later than the last day of scheduled finals for third-year classes for the final semester of the student’s final year.

All students must complete an LW III compliance form which identies the course in which the LW III requirement has been satisfied. The form can be obtained from the Assistant Dean of Student’s office and must be completed by the supervising faculty member.

No additional academic credit, other than that normally earned in the course (if any) in which the student is writing the written product, shall be earned by a student for completion of the paper. In addition, this paper requirement cannot be met by a paper used to satisfy the requirements of any course not designated on the disclosure form.

February 28, 2013