Legal Practice Program

The Legal Practice Program, under the direction of Professor Nancy Soonpaa (also see Faculty and Staff), offers first-year law students a two-semester sequence of courses designed to let them apply the law they are learning in their other first-year courses.

Although learning the rules, principles, and doctrines of law is fundamental to a law education, that knowledge alone is not enough to prepare law students to practice. A course that asks students to apply that knowledge in a variety of ways serves to introduce students to the practical skills they will use in their professional lives.

The Texas Tech School of Law differs from many other schools by offering a full six hours of credit during the first year for courses that introduce practice skills. Legal Practice I and II are part of a two-semester sequence of classes that introduce first-year students to a variety of skills taught in the context of client-centered representation, including:

  • Ethical responsibilities and professionalism
  • Client interviewing and counseling
  • Objective and persuasive writing
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Oral advocacy
  • Research

The emphasis on professional skills requires an experienced group of professors to teach Legal Practice I and II. Every member of the Legal Practice Program has significant practice experience that ranges from practicing with a firm to serving as a military lawyer to clerking for an appellate judge. The breadth of experience that these professors bring to the classroom not only enriches the education of their students but also introduces students to the professional world and its expectations.

Texas Tech University School of Law's Legal Practice Program was rated in the top 25 by U.S. News & World Report for 2007. Read the article written in the Daily Toreador.

Legal Practice I

This three-hour course is an introduction to the legal system covering case briefing, case synthesis, and statutory analysis, as well as the principles and practice of legal writing (the office memorandum and the client letter), client interviewing, client counseling, and legal research, both in books and on-line.

In Legal Practice I, students will:

  • Meet with and interview a mock client
  • Research the law related to the issues for which the client needs legal advice
  • Write an analysis of the law and facts in order to counsel the client about the best course of action

Legal Practice II

Legal Practice II, also a three-hour course, focuses on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and persuasive legal writing and oral argument. The ADR component introduces negotiation skills, mediation, and arbitration, as well as an overview of other processes such as settlement conferences, mini-trials, and summary jury trial. The persuasive advocacy component includes drafting a trial and/or appellate brief and presenting an oral argument.

In Legal Practice II, students will:

  • Represent a different client from Legal Practice I
  • New clients will have cases in litigation, so students must learn to write to a judge and file various papers with the court
  • Attempt to resolve the problems of their clients through negotiation and mediation
  • Represent their clients either at the trial level or on appeal to a higher court
  • Present the issue through writing and oral argument to one or more judges.