Our Legal Practice Program helps students gain the writing, oral communication, and professional skills they'll need to be great lawyers.
The Legal Practice Program is a required three-semester course of study.
Your legal education begins with Law Week, a multiday introduction to law school and the practice of law. You'll receive information about the Law School, meet your professors, get to know your classmates, and renew your inspiration about the profession you'll be joining. You'll start to learn how to read and analyze cases and attend the first of your doctrinal classes. And you'll hear about the Law School’s tradition of the citizen lawyer and about the importance of the community here at William & Mary.
In the first year of the program, you'll work in small Legal Writing classes with a full-time faculty member who specializes in legal writing. You'll develop your objective legal analysis and writing skills in the fall semester and your persuasive writing abilities in the spring semester. You'll learn techniques for effective communication through twice-weekly classes and in individual conferences designed for effective, targeted feedback that will help make you not only a better writer but also a better editor of your own work.
Our law librarians will provide separate sessions on finding legal authorities and other aspects of legal research. A 2L or 3L student with particular skill in legal writing is assigned to each section to teach the ins and outs of proper legal citation. And practicing attorneys in a variety of fields will teach your Lawyering Skills course, providing close guidance on how to interview a client, conduct a negotiation, and other skills necessary to the successful practice of law.
In your second year, you'll build on the skills developed in the first year of the program by choosing an Advanced Writing & Practice course in a particular field of practice: civil pretrial practice, criminal pretrial practice, appellate advocacy, or transactional practice. In this upper-level writing course, you’ll continue to improve your professional writing skills by drafting more advanced documents, learning strategies from a specialist in the field. You’ll receive not only careful feedback on your work but also advice on professionalism and practice tips.
Throughout the program, you'll gain the confidence you need as you enter the job market. And beyond the Legal Practice Program, you can continue to develop your writing and practice skills through electives, clinics, and externships.