Our Pro Bono Collaborative mobilizes Rhode Island law firms, law students and community organizations to provide desperately needed legal assistance for the underserved residents of the state. The unique program includes 10 major law firms, over 20 community-based organizations and several dozen law students.
Course Descriptions - %1
Law Office Management
Law Office Management is a practical course to explore starting, running, and growing a law practice. Students will create a business plan and draft various documents essential to any law practice. A broad range of practice management topics will be discussed, including the choice of entity, practice specialization, business development, marketing, and various ethical issues.
Lawyering in an Evil System
The sad truth is that legal systems do not always comply with the law, whether measured by existing positive law or more general notions of natural rights. This course will consider the difficult issues facing lawyers and judges in such trying circumstances, over time and in different legal systems, and will challenge students to reflect upon how they would react if placed in similar situations. Among the topics will be lawyers practicing in racist legal systems in the United States, like Atticus Finch; lawyers under Apartheid in South Africa, like Nelson Mandela; lawyers in France and Germany during WWII; and lawyers representing “War on Terror” detainees at Guantanamo. Guest experts will be joining the conversations. Requires Honors enrollment.
This course introduces students to forms of practical legal writing not covered in Legal Practice I and II. The fundamentals of legal drafting are addressed, with an emphasis on the principles of good writing and editing. Assignments reflect the types of legal writing an attorney encounters in daily office practice - documents for litigation, as well as those designed to avoid litigation. Typical projects include correspondence, simple contracts, pleadings, discovery documents, motion papers, jury instructions, orders, and settlement papers. Students may be asked to write from the perspective of a judge or legislator, as well as a practitioner.
Legal Drafting & Advocacy: Environmental Law
This course introduces students to legal drafting and advocacy on behalf of clients facing environmental regulatory issues, both in the administrative and business planning contexts. The course will cover land/water use issues regarding residential, mixed use and industrial development and operational permitting and compliance under a myriad of Federal and State laws including the Clean Water Act; Clean Air Act: Rivers and Harbors Act, RCRA, CERCLA; CZMA and various selected state statutes and regulations. Students will learn about agency investigations, enforcement, and appeals and engage in document drafting and simulated agency proceedings. Students will also learn how to counsel clients about environmental risks in different kinds of business transactions to develop practical lawyering skills in this complex field. Prerequisite or contemporaneous enrollment in Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law or Coastal and Ocean Law. Students will be evaluated based upon drafting assignments and mock agency proceedings and client counseling simulations.
Legal Drafting: Commercial Transaction
The area of commercial law involves the application of practical skills introduced in payment systems, secured transactions and bankruptcy. This course will offer the student the opportunity to acquire ‘hands on’ experience in the drafting of ‘workout’ documents and pleadings arising from commercial loan transactions. Specifically, this drafting course will continue the topics presented in Legal Drafting: Commercial Loan Documents and take the student through the particulars of dealing with commercial lending transactions that go awry. Specifically, each student will be introduced to the ‘workout’ process and prepare and submit documents and/or pleadings in state or federal proceedings (including Bankruptcy Court) to protect the interests of each of the lender and the borrower.
Legal Drafting: Commercial Leasing
This class will focus on lease agreements between landlords and tenants of commercial real estate, including leases for office space, for retail stores, and for dustrial/manufacturing property. Almost every business will be a party to a commercial real estate lease agreement, either as landlord or tenant, at some point in the life of that business. Knowledge of commercial real estate leases is an essential skill for real estate lawyers, as well as corporate lawyers. Litigators will also need to know the fundamentals of commercial real estate leases because these agreements often result in disputes and lawsuits. This class will also explore some of the alternative uses for leases, such as leases being used as financing alternatives. Class sessions will be devoted to section-by-section analysis of leases followed by student exercises to draft and revision of these documents.
Legal Drafting: Commercial Real Estate Development & Finance Law
This course will focus on the development and finance components within commercial real estate transactions. We will review the land development process, including site acquisition, due diligence, permitting and construction of commercial retail properties and large scale condominiums projects. We will also analyze, from the perspective of both borrower and lender, the use of different finance mechanisms utilized in the development of real estate, such as term and revolving loans, bridge loans, construction loans and mezzanine financing.
Legal Drafting: Contracts
This course teaches students the fundamentals of drafting contracts. Students learn how to understand a client's business deal, and how to translate the deal into contract concepts, the building blocks of contracts. Students learn the process for drafting the contract concepts in clear and unambiguous provisions in a well-organized complete contract that reflects accurately the parties' deal. Students learn how to add value to a client's deal by drafting and recognizing nuances in language that change the deal and shift risk between the parties. Students learn how to analyze and comment on a contract that another lawyer has drafted. Students will learn the best drafting style and usage techniques necessary to enhance clarity and avoid ambiguity.
Legal Practice I
This skills course trains students in the traditional methods of case and statutory analysis, legal research and writing. The skills are developed through graded exercises, library research, and written work. Students prepare a client opinion letter and two office memoranda.
Legal Practice II
This skills course complements Legal Practice I. The emphasis is on the development of advocacy skills through problem analysis, legal research, the writing of an appellate brief and the presentation of oral argument. Students are trained in computer-aided legal research.