Communication and Legal Reasoning

In today's increasingly complex and competitive legal and business worlds, lawyers must possess excellent communication, presentation, and teamwork skills that go beyond the typical legal analysis and reasoning skills taught at every good law school.

At Northwestern, first-year students are required to take two semesters of Communication and Legal Reasoning. In addition to offering traditional instruction in legal reasoning, research, writing, and oral argument, the course encourages teamwork and collaboration on brief writing exercises and role-playing situations.

The CLR Program makes use of technology in and out of the classroom and takes advantage of Northwestern's location amid Chicago's vibrant legal community. The CLR faculty is made up of a talented group of attorneys and local professionals are invited to speak in classes about brief writing, oral argument, and the importance of clear oral and written communication in practice. Students also make frequent visits to the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois to watch cases in progress.

At the end of the second semester, first-year students participate in the noncompetitive Arlyn Miner Moot Court, where Northwestern Law alumni and leaders from the Chicago legal community act as judges critiquing brief writing and oral arguments. Students can continue in their second year with other competitive moot court competitions.

In 2002 first-year students participated in an all-day mandatory conference entitled "Lawyer as Problem Solver." The professional-style conference takes place off campus and spends a full day focusing on skills that lawyers need to serve their clients effectively, such as oral and written communication, interviewing, integrative negotiation, dispute resolution, creativity, coalition-building, decision-making, teamwork and leadership. Students work in small groups with an emphasis on group learning. This unique curriculum uses hands-on exercises to bring key principles to life.

Related Links

LEAF: Legal English and Foundations Program