While mastery of legal doctrine is essential for a successful legal practice, lawyers are far more than encyclopedias of rules. The practice of law requires both knowledge and skill. Lawyers must not only know the law but also excel as clear writers, persuasive advocates, diplomatic negotiators, interpreters of text, thorough researchers, and careful drafters.

Legal skills are nurtured throughout your law school career. All first-year students take four credits of legal skills, focusing on writing, research, and oral advocacy. In addition, several first-year doctrinal courses engage in skills development such as drafting contracts and pleadings, and interpreting statutes. After the first year, all students must take two writing courses and six credits of experiential learning (some of which may count as writing credit).

Experiential learning – a form of skills development – can involve hands-on learning through clinics and externships as well as in courses designed to simulate different experiences of legal practice. Clinics are supervised by faculty on site and provide students an opportunity to work directly with clients, and sometimes appear in court, on a variety of legal matters including immigration, taxation, family law, and criminal defense and prosecution law. Externships are offsite legal placements for academic credit in law firms, government agencies, courthouses, Congress and state legislatures, and public interest groups. Other skills courses focus on writing, advocacy, negotiation, interpretation, and the like.

Although there is no one formula, in addition to core competencies in legal analysis, writing, research, and interpretation, students more inclined toward litigation should consider courses in negotiation, mediation, and advocacy. Students leaning to a transactional practice should consider skills courses in legal drafting and negotiation. In addition, numerous co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities exist for skills development, as well as being fun and collegial experiences. These include Moot Court Association, National Trial Team, and Law Journals (for which some academic credit may be awarded).


Columbus Community Legal Services (CCLS) offers several clinics each year, supervised by faculty. Follow this link for additional information about clinical education. https://www.law.edu/academics/legal-externships-and-clinics/index.html


Catholic Law has a substantial network of externship placements in government, on Capitol Hill, with nonprofits, and at law firms. A prerequisite for taking externships for credit is the Becoming a Lawyer class. Follow this link for additional information about externships. https://www.law.edu/academics/legal-externships-and-clinics/index.html

Pro Bono Program

Catholic Law has a robust Pro Bono Program, which entails law-related public service/public interest activities supervised by an attorney and performed not for compensation or academic credit. Follow this link for additional information about pro bono opportunities: https://www.law.edu/students/probono/index.html


  • Interviewing, Counseling, and Negotiating Skills
  • Mediation and Arbitration Skills

General Writing

  • Advanced Legal Research and Writing
  • Legal Drafting: Contracts
  • Legal Drafting: General Drafting
  • Legal Drafting: Legislation
  • Legal Drafting: Litigation Drafting


  • Appellate Advocacy
  • Trial Practice
  • Trial Skills: A Criminal Case
  • Professional Speaking in Legal Settings

Interpretation of Legal Documents


  • Directed Research
  • Qualifying Paper courses

Law Journals

  • Catholic University Law Review
  • Journal of Law and Technology

Other Skills-Related Courses

  • Compliance, Investigations, and Corporate Responsibility Program (CICR)
  • In-House Counsel

Co-curricular & Extracurricular Opportunities

  • Moot Court Appellate National Teams
  • Moot Court Association
  • National Mock Trial Team
  • Street Law