Texas Tech University

Course Descriptions

Course 1: Argumentation and Debate

Course Number & Title: COMS 3314: Argumentation and Debate

Course Structure: 3 credits will be earned for the successful completion of this course.

Course Faculty: Catherine L. Langford, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Communication Studies

Textbook / Readings: A course reading packet will be utilized in this course.

Course Description: The relationship between rhetoric and law extends back more than two thousand years ago to the beginning of democracy. In ancient Greece, advocates would represent their position before the courts. The roots of that system are maintained today, in the adversarial political and legal system of the United States. This course examines the judicial system and the relationship between rhetoric and law. Students will begin by considering classical concepts of rhetoric, including argumentation/reasoning, the use of proofs as evidentiary support, and fallacies in argumentation. Next, they will investigate the ways in which the law is rhetorical, which includes how one understands or interprets the United States Constitution. Finally, students will consider different areas of law and the ways in which the argument used to support or to oppose legal outcomes are rhetorical. Law serves a constitutive function in American society; it provides a vision for how people believe community should be and how people should interact with one another. The purpose is to help students develop civic literacy and skills to become critical consumers of information. By the end of this course students should understand their fundamental rights, as well as certain strategies to help them advocate for those rights.

Course 2: Lawyering Skills: Legal Analysis & Advocacy

Course Number & Title: PLAW 4301, Lawyering Skills: Legal Analysis & Advocacy

Course Structure: 3 credits will be earned for the successful completion of this course.

Course Faculty: Wendy Adele Humphrey, J.D., M.Ed. Associate Professor of Law

Textbook / Readings: A course reading packet will be utilized in this course.

Course Description: This course will introduce students to fundamental concepts related to the legal system, including the court structure and the types of legal authority. It will also introduce them to legal analysis and the format for legal writing and citation. Students will write an objective, legal memorandum, and this will help them improve their critical thinking and writing skills. In addition, students will learn how to give a persuasive oral argument and will then demonstrate their advocacy skills in a moot court advocacy competition.

Specific knowledge to be acquired in the segment includes:

  • Understanding the branches of government and the legal authority associated with each one;
  • Understanding the court system, the types/hierarchy of authority, and the weight of precedent;
  • Reading, analyzing, and understanding cases and statutes;
  • Understanding legal tests, developing a rule of law, and rule synthesis;
  • Understanding the parts of an objective legal memorandum;
  • Understanding how to organize a legal analysis and applying the CREAC paradigm in writing;
  • Expressing rules accurately and describing case law accurately;
  • Expressing legal analysis of facts by using analogy and distinction;
  • Writing with proper tone for legal analysis;
  • Understanding basic citation rules; and,
  • Understanding the structure for a persuasive oral argument.

Course 3: Seminar in the Legal Profession

Course Number & Title: PLAW 3101, Seminar in the Legal Profession

Course Structure: One credit will be earned for the successful completion of this course.

Course Faculty: Wendy Adele Humphrey, J.D., M.Ed. Associate Professor of Law

This seminar will include three segments: (1) People in the Legal Profession, (2) Learning from Lawyers, and (3) Getting into Law School.

Segment I: People in the Legal Profession

In this segment, students will participate in roundtable discussions with law students, lawyers, and law faculty. They will also hear speakers discussing a particular area of legal practice and have the opportunity to ask questions. Topics may include overviews of law school activities (including advocacy programs and journals), specific subject-matter practice areas, work-life balance in the legal profession, public service work, in-house counsel legal jobs, judicial system employment, and non-traditional jobs in the legal field.

The following knowledge, skills, and values will be developed during this segment:

  • Gaining greater understanding of the types of law practice;
  • Gaining greater understanding of lawyers' lives;
  • Gaining a greater understanding of the law school experience; and,
  • Developing a personal, pre-professional identity through interactions with law students and lawyers.

Segment II: Learning from Lawyers

This segment will expose students to different practice areas and will include "field trips" in the legal profession. For example, students may hear from a criminal defense lawyer or a prosecutor and then tour the Lubbock County Jail.

Segment III: Getting into Law School

The goal of this segment is to introduce students to information about getting admitted to law school, preparing for and taking the LSAT, and developing study skills to ensure success as an undergraduate and as a law school student. Each student will prepare a "law school portfolio" that includes a draft of his or her personal statement, sample letters of recommendations, etc. The following topics will be addressed in this segment:

  • Applying to law school in general;
  • Writing a personal statement;
  • Choosing the right law school;
  • Understanding U.S. News and World Report Law School Rankings;
  • Preparing for the LSAT/LSAT prep courses;
  • The cost of law school;
  • Choosing undergraduate course in preparation for law school; and,
  • Developing strong study skills, including test preparation, outlining, note-taking, and listening skills.

As part of this segment, students will take a practice LSAT and learn about their strengths and weaknesses.

Optional Internship:

Students who successfully complete the Academy may participate in an internship in the legal profession. The internship will be during the second summer session, and students may earn from one to three credits. The internship may be outside of the Lubbock area. Participation is at the discretion of the Directors of the Academy.