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Civil litigation involves representing parties in disputes in state and federal court, in administrative tribunals and, increasingly, in arbitration and mediation. A civil litigator may be an expert in a specialized area of the law like employment law, securities regulation, real estate law, or medical malpractice. This pathway lists courses that would be useful in a wide range of civil practice.

Civil Litigation Career Path Resources

Civil Litigation Faculty

Civil Litigation Path View

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  • Core Course

    Administrative Law

    3 Credit (Elective)

    This course is designed for students interested in regulatory law and those who seek additional coverage of pertinent constitutional law topics. Coverage includes the sources and nature of agency authority, agency rule making and adjudication, and judicial review of agency action. Constitutional issues addressed include the interplay of power among the three federal branches, procedural due process, and justiciability issues such as standing, ripeness, and mootness. Special emphasis is placed on the federal Administrative Procedure Act; state analogs may be studied as well. Attention also may be given to the internal functioning of typical administrative bodies and to the relationship between regulators and the regulated community.

  • Core Course

    Evidence

    3 Credit (Required)

    Surveys the law of evidence applied in the federal trial courts with some comparison with state courts of superior jurisdiction. Case law and code sources are considered with special emphasis placed on the Federal Rules of Evidence. Among the topics treated are the mechanics of presenting and objecting to evidence, relevance, competency and privilege, character evidence, impeachment, hearsay and the major exceptions thereto, expert testimony and scientific evidence, judicial notice, and the burdens of proof and presumptions.

  • Other Course

    Judging and the Judicial Process

    2 Credit (Elective)

    Judges are often imagined merely to apply the law to the facts of the case, or (in Chief Justice Roberts' famous words) simply call "balls and strikes." Not all cases, however, neatly fit this description. This seminar will consider the factors that influence judicial decision making in difficult cases. Among other things, we will examine the process of judicial selection, different theories of adjudication, limitations on judicial expression, the independence/accountability debate, judicial performance evaluation, legislative-judicial relations, and internal court dynamics. Grading will be based primarily on reaction papers throughout the semester and a paper at the end of the semester.

    This course may be offered every other year.

  • Core Course

    Law and Ethics of Lawyering

    3 Credit (Required)

    Examines the legal and ethical issues that practicing lawyers face regularly as they perform their unique, and often conflicting, responsibilities as representatives of clients, public citizens, and officers of the legal system. Particular attention is given to the laws regulating lawyer conduct, including common law standards, statutes, and formal rules of professional conduct. In addition, lawyers' legal duties are examined in light of concepts of ethical individual behavior, and the history, values, and goals of the legal profession. Ethics is scheduled as a required, second-year day course offered in the spring semester and as a required, third-year evening course offered in the fall semester.

  • Recommended Course

    Administrative Law Clinic

    2/3 Credit (Clinic)

    Placements inside agencies or in organizations or offices that work before agencies are within the broad scope of the clinic. Students in this clinical component spend 10 (2-credit) or 15 (3-credit) hours per week on fieldwork. Given the broad range of possible placements, students' experiences can range from acting as a law clerk to an administrative law judge or hearing officer to advocating before an agency. Students will submit weekly journals, describing and reflecting on their experiences in the field, and will meet in a series of seminars with the course instructor and/or the Clinical Director to explore the relationship between the principles covered in the substantive class and the students' fieldwork. NOTE: ELIGIBILITY FOR SOME PLACEMENTS IN THIS COURSE IS DEPENDENT ON SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF A BACKGROUND CHECK. This course satisfies the Experiential Education/Professional Skills Requirement.

  • Recommended Course

    Alternative Dispute Resolution

    2 Credit (Professional Skills)

    This course focuses on alternative methods of dispute resolution, including negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. In-class simulations of fact patterns are used as a means of illustrating certain resolution methods. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirements.

  • Recommended Course

    Conflict of Laws

    3 Credit (Elective)

    Surveys the entire field of conflict of laws, including choice of law, jurisdiction, and recognition of judgments. The course introduces students to choice of law theory and practice, but also reviews and reinforces some material covered in Civil Procedure. Conflicts problems arise when legal controversies involve persons, property, or events that have connections to more than one state or nation. What substantive law should apply? Where may the case be heard? Will a judgment issued be recognized and enforced elsewhere? May the parties stipulate in advance to these matters? In answering these questions, students analyze the different choice of law doctrines applied in the United States, study the law of recognition and enforcement of foreign (other states' or nations') judgments, and review jurisdiction concepts. The US constitutional requirements in these areas are an important part of the course.

  • Recommended Course

    Federal Courts

    3 Credit (Elective)

    Deals with the Article III courts, with special emphasis on the relationship among constitutional, statutory, and judicially imposed restrictions on the jurisdiction of federal courts. The relationship between state and federal courts is analyzed, as is the historical growth of federal judicial remedies for civil rights violations. The law-making authority of the federal courts and their relationship with the federal legislative and executive branches also are considered.

  • Recommended Course

    Honors Judicial Internship

    2-4 Credit (Professional Skills)

    Offers a small number of highly qualified students an opportunity to sharpen research and writing skills and to observe and work on the judicial side of the profession. Each student in the program works for a semester as a law intern for a state or federal judge. The number of credits earned depends on the placement and the number of hours spent working on the internship. Students ordinarily spend between 10 and 20 hours per week in the internship and, in addition, meet regularly with the faculty supervisor of the program. Each student engages in legal research and writing for the assigned judge and maintains a journal detailing the experience in the internship. Selection is very competitive. This course satisfies the Experiential Education/Professional Skills Requirement.

  • Recommended Course

    Lawyering Process

    6, 4, or 3 Credit (Clinic)

    This one-semester course serves as an introduction to civil litigation. Students attend a 2-hour weekly class and 16 hours per week (8 hours or 5 hours, respectively, for the 4- and 3-credit version open to part-time students only), working on civil cases through the Clinical Law Office or other legal services offices, such as Greater-Boston Legal Services. Students represent clients under Rule 3:03 of the Supreme Judicial Court, the student practice rule, and assume responsibility for all phases of each case they handle. Students meets on a weekly basis with their assigned supervisor to discuss progress and strategy on the student's cases, and are responsible for handling cases until the end of the examination period. The major objective of the course is to develop a conceptual framework within which students can understand and evaluate their own experience in practice, both during the course and in future practice. The skills studied include client interviewing, case planning, investigation/discovery, client counseling, negotiation, argument, and the presentation of evidence. In addition to providing the opportunity to develop skills, the course examines institutional and ethical problems that arise in the student's practice. Written work includes short papers and an examination. Prerequisites/corequisites include Evidence or Trial Practice. This course satisfies the Experiential Education/Professional Skills Requirement.

  • Recommended Course

    Modern Remedies

    3 Credit (Elective)

    Offers an integrated survey of the legal and equitable remedies available in contracts, property, and torts actions, with special attention given to temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, and the contempt power; the components of and adjustments to compensatory damages; the limitations on punitive damages; and restitution.

  • Other Course

    Government Lawyer Clinic

    4 Credit (Clinic)

    This clinical course gives students an opportunity to participate in and to analyze the work of a lawyer in a government setting. Participants will spend 12 hours per week working in the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office under the supervision of assistant attorneys general or another government agency. Students may assist with various aspects of litigation, such as research, investigation, pleadings, discovery, motions, trials, and appeals. Students must attend a weekly, two-hour class that will explore the skills required in representing the government as well as such policy issues as defining the "public interest" and the conflicts between representing the public and defending the government. NOTE: ELIGIBILITY FOR THIS COURSE IS DEPENDENT ON SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF A BACKGROUND CHECK. CONTACT PROFESSOR CARRIKER IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS (727-2200 Ext. 2118). Prerequisites/corequisites include Evidence or Trial Practice. This course satisfies the Experiential Education/Professional Skills Requirement.

  • Other Course

    Mediation

    3 Credit (Professional Skills)

    Students are introduced to the principles of conflict resolution through the mediation process and through evolving mediation hybrids, including learning about the legal, ethical, sociological, and procedural aspects of mediation through a series of simulated exercises. Students participate directly in simulations drawn from many areas involving conflict, such as family law, trusts and estates, land use and real estate, business, sports law, construction, entertainment, and employment. During the second half of the course, the focus is on the role of lawyers in the mediation process and the skills needed to be an effective and appropriate advocate in resolving disputes for clients. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirements.

  • Other Course

    Negotiation

    3 Credit (Professional Skills)

    Explores the theory and the art of resolving conflict through negotiation. Various styles are presented for comparison and analysis. Students are urged to evaluate their own intuitive style and to experience others. Practical experience is achieved through one-on-one and group negotiations exercises. The theory of conflict, strategic choice, ethical issues, and the negotiator's dilemma are presented in a variety of substantive contexts. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirement.

  • Recommended Course

    Massachusetts Practice and Procedure

    2 Credit (Elective)

    This course deals with both practice and procedure in the state courts. Primary emphasis is on the trial court level, with some discussion of appellate procedure. The course also presents an analysis of court structure; jurisdiction of the various courts; venue; commencement of an action; filing of required document; service of summonses, including writs of attachment of real and personal property; the amendment procedure; the filing of responsive pleadings; pleading practices; discovery tools and techniques; methods of termination of action before trial; judgments and postjudgment motions; motions for a new trial; and appeals. An overview of the "remand" practice, as well as a discussion of the various "alternative dispute resolution" mechanisms, also is presented, time permitting.

  • Recommended Course

    Trial Preparation

    3 Credit (Professional Skills)

    This course is designed to introduce and familiarize students with each step that a trial lawyer encounters once there has been a decision to enter into an attorney-client relationship-from the initial client intake, up through and including closing argument and the filing of a notice of appeal. During the semester, students are exposed to discovery techniques, both formal and informal, as well as the ethical obligations attendant to conducting and propounding discovery, including the significance of meta data, electronic discovery, and inadvertent disclosure. Students will be encouraged to think independently when presented with the challenge of making decisions in actual cases.

    The course exposes students to motion practice and preparation, as well as oral advocacy techniques, and incorporates a plan to provide students with a working understanding of rules of procedure and rules of court that are generally not covered as applied in other procedural or substantive courses. Preparation of jury instructions and trial briefs are covered in an effort to expose students to the importance of zealous representation. The ultimate goal of the course is to give students the confidence they need to participate zealously and effectively in the adversary system, along with a personal appreciation for the significance of being considered a trial lawyer and officer of the court.

    Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirement.

  • Recommended Course

    Clinical Evidence

    3 Credit (Professional Skills)

    Other Stage Three Options:

    Trial Practice

    This is an advanced course that emphasizes the practical application of principles and rules of evidence. It is founded on the premise that trial lawyers should know the rules of evidence and understand how to use them in the courtroom to their advantage and on the realization that the rules affect both tactical and substantive decisions about the presentation of a case. This course is for students who seek either a more thorough and practical foundation in the field of evidence or who plan to become trial advocates. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirements.

  • Recommended Course

    Trial Practice

    2 or 3 Credit (Professional Skills)

    Other Stage Three Options:

    Clinical Evidence

    This skills course is designed to prepare students for the trial phase of litigation. Although it presumes prior knowledge of the substantive areas of law covered during the first two years of law school, especially evidence, the course itself concentrates on trial procedure and the development of jury trial advocacy skills. Students conduct complete mock trials in which they participate as parties, witnesses, and counsel. Problems faced by students acting as counsel include jury selection, opening statements, closing arguments, examination of witnesses-including opinion testimony, offers of exhibits, objections to evidence, and impeachment of witnesses. Mock trial exercises are critiqued by the instructor and class members. Consideration also is given to client interviews, investigation, discovery, pleadings, pretrial motions, and the preservation of rights to appeal. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirement.

  • Other Course

    Law Practice Management

    2 Credit (Professional Skills)

    Law Practice Management teaches students how to set up and run a small law firm or a solo practice; however, the skills and lessons learned in the class are transferable to any law practice, large or small. The class focuses on what is needed to launch your practice, how to generate business, how to establish a fee structure, how to actually handle the substantive work, how to manage clients, how to deal with opposing counsel, and how to fire a client. The class also discusses law firm economics, which is critical to understand, whether you are hanging your own shingle or working for someone else. Ethical considerations and malpractice traps in the context of the day-to-day practice of law are weekly themes. Additional elements of a law practice that are examined include 1) forming a business plan; 2) incorporation/partnership, employment/independent contracts; 3) insurance; 4) tax liabilities, annual and other filings and deposits, IOLTA; 5) space; 6) equipment; 7) management; 8) rainmaking and networking; 9) computer software; 10) banking: client funds, trust accounts, operating accounts, conveyancing accounts, IOLTA requirements; and 11) marketing and advertising. Former and current practitioners are guest lecturers, and in the past, they have included a disbarred lawyer to speak of his ethical missteps, bar counsel from the Office of Bar Counsel, a panel of seasoned practitioners, representatives from LOMAP and LCL. The course also involves a "shadowing" program, where students are matched with local practitioners based upon substantive law and geography. Each student meets with a local practitioner to discuss his or her practice and start to build the student's network. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirement.

  • Other Course

    Massachusetts Evidence

    3 Credit (Professional Skills)

    This course will develop a student's ability to admit and exclude evidence under Massachusetts Evidence Law. Massachusetts Evidence Law is an amalgam of the common law, statutes, rules of procedure, and the federal and state constitution. There are sharp and significant differences between the Federal Rules of Evidence that students learn in a basic Evidence course and the law of evidence applied in the common law courts of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Students, therefore, are unprepared to try a case in Massachusetts only having learned evidence under the Federal Rules. This course will compare and contrast the law of evidence under the Federal Rules with the law in Massachusetts. Additionally, students will draft and argue motions in limine and perform mock exercises offering and objecting to evidence, arguing evidentiary matters to the court, and protecting the record for appeal. Each of these exercises will be directed toward an area of Massachusetts Evidence Law that differs from the law under the Federal Rules. Please check the most recent course registration information to determine if this course meets the Experiential Education/Professional Skills requirements.

    This course may be offered every other year.

  • Other Course

    Public Interest Law Seminar / Clinic

    3, 4, or 5 Credit (Clinic)

    This one-semester package includes both a clinical course and seminar. Students will spend 5 (1-credit), 10 (2-credit), or 15 (3-credit) hours per week in their fieldwork, depending on the number of credits for the clinical component portion. In addition, all students will attend a weekly, 2-hour seminar (2 credits). The total package will therefore be offered for 3, 4, or 5 credits, with the 3-credit package offered only to Evening and Special Part-Time Program students. For the clinical component, the core placements will include the New England Law Clinical Law Office and off-site placements, such as Greater-Boston Legal Services, where students will handle civil cases. Students will be practicing under Rule 3:03 of the Supreme Judicial Court, typically representing indigent clients. An explicit goal of this course is to provide our students with direct experience providing "legal services for the benefit of persons of limited means." See MASS. R PROF. CONDUCT R. 6.1. Placements in governmental agencies will not be the focus of this clinic, since the placements in other clinical courses are so heavily weighted toward the government sector (e.g. Government Lawyer, Tax Clinic, Administrative Law Clinic, Criminal Procedure II Clinic, Federal Courts Clinic). The seminar portion of the course will focus on public interest law and the public interest lawyer. Classes, or units of classes, will include issues such as: introduction to substantive areas of public interest law (e.g., family law, housing law, government benefits); ethics (e.g. issues affecting public interest lawyers, regulation of the profession and delivery of legal services); clients (unmet legal needs, and issues of poverty, race and gender); the courts (dispensing justice to persons of limited means); and legal education (the role of law schools in preparing lawyers for the practice). Issues from the students' fieldwork will be incorporated into the classes, to strengthen the connections between classroom and fieldwork, as well as theory and practice.

    Prerequisites/Corequisites: Evidence or Trial Practice.

    This course satisfies the Experiential Education/Professional Skills Requirement.