The method of instruction, curriculum and grading standards at the California School of Law have been designed to emulate those at residential law schools. The Law School provides 270 hours per year of synchronous, live "virtual classrooms."
The curriculum of the Law School is as follows.
First Year Courses
Legal Method is an Enrollment Pre-Requisite to attending the California School of Law. No tuition is charged for this pre-enrollment course.
Legal Method is an intensive 4 week practical learning experience designed to produce successful law students. Emphasis is placed on law school study skills such as briefing cases, preparing course outlines and legal exam writing. The course addresses the development of issue-spotting and issue-framing skills, as well as analogizing and distinguishing skills that comprise legal analysis. Students perform practical exercises to learn these skills, in order that they are prepared to begin their legal studies.
Contracts I & II
As an introduction to contract law, the course deals with how contracts are formed, including offer, acceptance and consideration, as well as contract formalities, including the Statute of Frauds, the parol evidence rule and implied obligations. The issues as to when a contract has been breached and the remedies for breach, including damages, specific performance and restitution are covered, plus contract interpretation, performance of contract and avoidance of contract, including the defenses of frustration of purpose, impracticability, impossibility, incapacity, duress, undue influence, mistake, misrepresentation and unconscionability. The subjects covered lay the foundation for advanced study in commercial transactions, corporations and securities. The course also is designed to introduce the student to the techniques of statutory interpretation, particularly in connection with the Uniform Commercial Code.
Torts I & II
This course is an introduction to the principles of tort liability for intentional and negligently caused injuries to persons and property. Subjects covered include assault, battery, false imprisonment, infliction of emotional distress and trespass, as well as defenses to intentional torts, including consent and assumption of risk. In the examination of negligence the subjects covered include standard of care, causation and limitations on duty. Defenses also are explored, such as contributory negligence, comparative negligence and statutes of limitation. Coverage also includes vicarious liability, wrongful death actions, negligent infliction of emotional distress, nuisance, misrepresentation, defamation, strict liability and products liability.
This course is an introduction to criminal law, with emphasis on principles of criminal liability and defenses. The course examines crimes against the person and property. Also examined are various specific areas of substantive criminal law, including: general principles applicable to all crimes, e.g., mens rea, attempt, mistake, causation, conspiracy, legal insanity, intoxication and justification. The purposes of criminal punishment and the role of the criminal justice system, including police and correctional agencies, also are explored.
Legal Writing and Analysis
This course involves the basics of legal reasoning, analysis and writing, such as preparation of case briefs, issue identification, identification of key facts, analogy, distinction, case synthesis and statutory construction. The course is designed to teach students the critical art of persuasive legal writing. This course includes the use of the legal memorandum as a format for analyzing and discussing legal issues.
The Final exam for LW&A is a simulated FYLSE it is 7 hours long, consisting of four one-hour essays in Torts, Contracts and Criminal Law and 100 MBE questions. The students’ exam answers will be reviewed and graded based on FYLSE standards. Only students receiving a passing score of 70+ on all four essays and 70+ on the MBE’s will pass LW&A and be certified by the California School of Law for the FYLSE.
Second Year Courses
This course is a two-month intensive review of the first year courses, designed to prepare students for the exam that the California State Bar requires be given after the completion of the first year of law study(FYLSE). Students are given MBE & essay practice questions to practice, as well as timed tests. Students have specific preparation Milestones they must satisfy. Professors also meet online with individual students to discuss test results and strategies. Specific assignments are given to individual students to help them focus on areas for which they may need improvement.
The final month of the FYLSE Review course involves extensive simulated testing with focused feedback. Students work on areas needing reinforcement and continue to sharpen their skills before taking the FYLSE.
Civil Procedure I & II
This course covers all phases of the litigation process in civil actions. Specific subjects include the bases for jurisdiction over persons and property, e.g., subject matter jurisdiction, diversity cases, venue, joinder of claims and parties, counterclaims, cross-claims and third-party claims. Other issues covered are class actions, discovery, voluntary and involuntary dismissal, default judgments, summary judgment, burden of proof in civil litigation, directed verdict, motions to vacate, appeals and res judicata.
Property I & II
This course begins with a study of the creation of the recorded property system in feudal England. The course then explores the methods by which property interests are held, used, and transferred in modern times, as well as the question of how members of society should allocate land use. Topics include present and future estates, ownership, limitations on the rights of landowners to exclude others, co-ownership, adverse possession, landlord-tenant law, nuisance, water rights, control of air space, easements and covenants, zoning, eminent domain and conveyances.
This course emphasizes the legal aspects of parent-child relationships, including issues concerning familial privacy, state intervention for endangered children, foster care, termination of parental rights, adoption, emancipation of minors, child support and child custody, and marriage dissolution.
Third Year Courses
Constitutional Law I & II
This course introduces the student to fundamental cases in Constitutional Law. There is an historical component to the course, demonstrating how the Constitution has acquired its meaning over time. Major issues examined are: the justification for judicial review, standards for the exercise of judicial power, the scope of Federal powers, regulation of interstate commerce, the executive powers of the President, separation of powers, allocation of power between Federal and State governments, equal protection, freedom of press, assembly and religion, substantive and procedural due process and Congressional enforcement powers.
Business Organizations and Associations
This course introduces the legal principles governing the relations among investors, managers, creditors and employees in business enterprises, that are common to closely-held and publicly traded corporations, e.g., limited liability, fiduciary and controlling party duties, shareholder rights, securities fraud, voting and control arrangements, executive compensation and corporate reorganizations, including tender offers, mergers and acquisitions.
This course covers the laws regulating law enforcement conduct during criminal investigations, examining particularly the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Subjects covered include the initial police investigation of a crime, apprehension of a suspect, arrests, searches and seizures, identification procedures, indictments, interrogation of suspects and witnesses, right to bail, preliminary hearings, the right to trial by jury, guilty pleas, confessions, right to an attorney and double jeopardy.
Wills and Trusts
This course examines the substantive law of Wills and Trusts and the final disposition of property. Topics covered include the law of intestate succession, the execution, revocation and construction of wills and trusts and marital property rights, problems arising from changes after execution, problems of will substitutes, essential elements of a trust from creation to termination, beneficiary interests, charitable trusts and problems of trust administration.
This course focuses on the rules of evidence and the procedural regulation of evidence at trial. The rules covered include those relating to the competence of witnesses, relevance, impeachment, character evidence, hearsay, expert testimony, the best evidence rule, opinion and privileges. Particular attention is paid to the Federal Rules of Evidence.
Fourth Year Courses
This course examines the laws relating to California community and separate property law and the division of marital assets upon divorce and death. Subject matters covered include determination of the community, marital agreements, commingling of funds, spousal liability for community and separate debts, education expenses, spousal rights to pension, disability income, life insurance proceeds, the property rights of unmarried couples, rights of creditors and conflict of law issues regarding change of marital domicile.
This course is a general examination of equitable and legal remedies that are available to civil litigants. The course considers the measure and scope of monetary damage awards in tort and contract actions, as well as restitution, equitable remedies including preliminary injunctions and permanent injunctions, temporary restraining orders, specific performance, contempt, punitive damages, equitable defenses and declaratory relief.
Professional Responsibility and Legal Ethics
This course examines the ethics imposed by law and conscience on members of the legal profession to clients, witnesses, opposing parties, tribunals and the public. The focus is on the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and on the California State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct. The course examines the various professional relationships created: attorney and client, attorney and public, attorney and other attorneys and attorney and judiciary. The objective of the course is to give students a working knowledge of the law governing lawyers and an appreciation for the ethical challenges they will face.
The hypothetical case utilized for the Moot Court Competition involves an appeal to the United States Supreme Court of a Constitutional issue, with written briefs and oral arguments based upon legal research by the students. The competition is conducted as a tournament; students compete as two-person teams, who advance through a series of elimination rounds, with two teams advancing to the final round. Students are judged on the quality of both oral and written argument. The competition is limited to forth-year students.
Participation in such competition requires the student to conduct extensive legal research and write a brief on the issues researched, with only minimal guidance from the team's faculty advisor and /or outside coach. Following the completion of the brief, students prepare for and conduct the oral argument component of the competition.
The California School of Law Bar review course covers all of the subjects tested on the Bar Exam; Business Associations, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Remedies, Civil Procedure, Evidence, Torts, Community Property, Professional Responsibility, Trusts, Constitutional Law, Real Property, Wills and Succession. The Bar Review course also addresses approaches for essay writing, the performance test and MBE’s. Students are given times writing assignments, timed performance tests and times MBE exams.
Advanced Lawyering Skills
Focuses on appellant writing.