By Dean Michael J. Yelnosky
Less than two years ago, RWU Law hosted a day-long symposium on the issue of mass incarceration, an event attended by approximately 350 judges, lawyers, law students, and others.  It was a...

Fast Facts

RWU Law provides students a broad range of marine resource and maritime courses taught by full professors as well as expert practitioners.  The curriculum includes courses in admiralty, fisheries, piracy, ocean and coastal law, ocean policy, and climate change.

Course Descriptions - %1

Course Number Descriptionsort icon Credits


This class provides an in-depth study of copyright law, which grants a limited monopoly to authors of creative works, and related state law doctrines such as unfair competition law.  The course will focus on the constitutional basis for copyright, the statutory requirements for copyright protection, the scope of rights granted to copyright owners, the elements of a copyright infringement action, related state law claims, and licensing issues related to copyright.  Discussion and readings will encompass topics of current interest in copyright law, including the impact of the internet, digital copying capabilities, new technologies, and the information-based economy.

2 Credit(s)

Corporate Counsel Externship & Corporate Counsel Seminar

Through our Corporate Counsel Clinical Externship Program, students earn academic credit while working two to three days per week in the in-house legal offices of prominent for-profit corporations in and around Rhode Island and southern New England.  Student externs will be exposed to the various ways in which law is practiced in-house and for corporate clients, gaining hands-on experience working side-by-side with some of the region’s leading corporate attorneys.  Students attend a two-hour weekly seminar to teach the professionalism and lawyering skills required in an in-house legal practice.

4-6 Credit(s)

Corporate Scandals & Business Ethics

This seminar looks at high-profile corporate scandals to understand how deep-rooted conflicts of interest can trigger crimes, and examines the role of scandals in prompting corporate reforms and government regulation intended to improve the practice of corporate governance.  We will explore how the response to scandal comprises both market (economic) and non-market (social, political, legal) components. Requires Honors enrollment.

1 Credit(s)

Criminal Defense Clinic

The Criminal Defense Clinic is a one semester program in which students represent indigent criminal defendants in the District Court and Traffic Tribunal of the State of Rhode Island. The caseload consists largely of misdemeanor and traffic offenses, including allegations of assault, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, drug possession, petty theft, drunk driving and breathalyser refusal. Students will handle every stage of representation in each of their cases, including motion practice, discovery and investigation, negotiation, pre-trial litigation and, when the case demands it, trial and appellate work.  Trial Advocacy is a prerequisite.

8 Credit(s)

Criminal Law

This course examines the general principles of substantive criminal law and concepts of mens rea, causation, parties, elements, criminal responsibility and capacity, justification, excuse and defenses.

3 Credit(s)

Criminal Litigation: Drafting & Advocacy

While less than ten percent of criminal cases go to trial, every criminal case involves reviewing and drafting critical documents.  This course will focus on pleadings, motions and related documents in the various stages of criminal cases – from the indictment through post conviction proceedings.  Students will learn how to review and draft such documents as indictments, motions to suppress, plea agreements, jury instructions, post-trial motions, applications for post conviction relief and governmental oppositions to such applications -- from both prosecutorial and defense perspectives.   The course is designed for prospective criminal attorneys, appellate attorneys, and judicial law clerks in state and federal courts.  Course assignments will include drafting of pleadings, motions, memoranda of law as well as class presentations.   Completion of, or concurrent enrollment in, Criminal Procedure is considered helpful.

2 Credit(s)

Criminal Procedure: Adjudication

This course is an analysis of selected and evolving criminal justice issues arising under the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  The course covers the criminal justice process from the prosecutor’s decision to charge the suspect to sentencing, including pre-trial proceedings and trial.  Within this context, emphasis is placed on the workings of the advocacy system, prosecution and defense functions.

3 Credit(s)

Criminal Procedure: Investigation

This course examines the procedural aspects of the criminal justice system with emphasis on the impact of the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments to the United States Constitution on state and federal prosecutions. Topics include the law of arrest, search and seizure, police interrogation and the privilege against self-incrimination.

3 Credit(s)

Critical Race Theory

This seminar will examine the ways in which race has played a role in the development of American law.  We will look at how race is defined in America and look at the experience of different racial minorities both historically and in the present day.   The ways in which race plays a role in particular areas of law, such as criminal law and housing law, will also be examined.  The course material for this seminar will be the work of scholars who have explored the historical and on-going subordination of racial minorities and provided critiques of legal regimes which have enforced racial subordination.      

2 Credit(s)

Current Issues in The Law Of Piracy

This course will consider various current legal issues in the law of piracy, including: the use of force by private vessel; insurance and the payment of ransom money; the extent of Congress' power to define piracy; the appropriate forum for piracy trials; the duty to suppress piracy and flags of convenience; and environmental activism as piracy.

1 Credit(s)