UF Law: Preparing Our Students for Sophisticated Legal Practice
A Foundation of Critical Thinking, Legal Analysis, Substantive Law, and Lawyering Skills
UF Law prepares students to become highly skilled attorneys and leaders. This preparation involves more than just mere knowledge of the law. Students must also hone their critical thinking skills and develop new skills related to legal analysis, legal research, systems-thinking, and the types of oral and written communications expected by judges and clients. Students learn how to effectively solve problems, negotiate, interact with others, manage projects, work in teams, and receive feedback to improve their performance. Through coursework, co-curricular activities, and other opportunities for growth, we help students acquire the competencies they need to reach their professional and personal goals.
During the first year, students study foundational areas of the law and develop essential competencies to become highly skilled attorneys and leaders in the legal profession. As they learn legal doctrine, students deepen their critical thinking skills and learn how to engage in legal analysis. Students also learn the art of effective legal research and writing. In our Introduction to Lawyering course, students develop other skills related to problem solving, active listening, and interviewing, counseling, and negotiation. Students also engage in cross-curricular exercises designed to develop systems-thinking skills and deepen understandings of how different areas of the law interact in complex and nuanced ways.
Upper Level Specialty Areas
During the second and third years of law school, students may enroll in an array of upper level courses, co-curricular activities, clinical experiences, and field placements, all designed to help them learn specialized content and further develop the essential competencies introduced during the 1L year. Students also take a required course in legal drafting that broadens their understandings of transactional legal practice.
Other Upper Level Opportunities
Continuous Focus On Professional Identity, Ethics, and Leadership
To become successful attorneys and leaders, students must think deeply about the meaning of their own careers, cultivate a strong professional identity, and develop and adhere to a code of ethics. Although these are lifelong pursuits, UF Law helps students begin this important journey during 1L orientation and throughout their coursework. Outside of class, students develop their professional identities by participating in individualized sessions with members of UF Law’s Career and Professional Development Team and other programming offered by the Office of Career and Professional Development.
Structuring Transactions & Fostering Innovation
UF Law helps students understand complex legal agreements and develop the drafting and strategic skills need for sophisticated legal practice. Structuring transactions requires a focus on contractual design and the tax and regulatory frameworks in which clients operate. Deep understandings of clients’ goals are also crucial, as the best lawyers partner with their clients to solve problems and achieve objectives that go well beyond issues of legal compliance. We introduce students to a range of transactions – merger agreements, IP licenses, real estate purchase agreements, and many more – with a focus on how lawyers and clients collaborate to foster innovation and growth.
Dispute Resolution for the Future
UF Law helps students become problem solvers so they may ultimately resolve the conflicts of their clients in effective and creative ways. Dispute resolution has evolved to include arbitration, mediation, and negotiation in addition to litigation. Technology is also rapidly transforming all forms of dispute resolution. We offer a full range of courses related to every form and stage of dispute resolution, all of which focus on building “a theory of the case” and developing the skills needed in each forum. Students enrolled in our clinics put these skills to use as they represent clients under the supervision of licensed attorney. Students may also participate in an array of competition teams that focus on different forms of dispute resolution.
Social Justice and Public Interest Lawyering
UF Law takes pride in our many alums who use their law degrees to promote social justice and the public interest, and we provide multiple opportunities for our students to join in that pursuit. Our clinics and field placements provide real world practice experience locally and around the nation. Additionally, we provide funding for students who wish to work with government entities and public interest organizations during the summer. UF Law’s centers also explore the many ways in which the law both promotes and thwarts social justice and produce research and policy proposals designed to increase access to justice. Our pro bono service requirement encourages all students, even those whose career goals do not focus on issues of social justice and public interest, to make contributions to their community, and begin meeting the expectations of the profession.