Syllabus Examples

I’ve taught a number of doctrinal, writing, clinical, and skills courses. Here are a few examples of learning outcomes I’ve used in recent course syllabi. I don’t offer these as models but instead examples of how I flesh out outcomes in a variety of course types. I include below commentary for particular objectives. 

Doctrinal Course: Criminal Law

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • understand and apply the theories of punishment;
  • present and summarize cases in an effective and targeted manner;  (This is a particular goal that I work on with students early in the semester. I teach them how to present cases in a manner that cuts to the heart of the issue.)
  • articulate basic principles of substantive criminal law as well as specific offenses and defenses;
  • spot issues and solve complex criminal law problems under New York law, the common law, and the Model Penal Code;
  • craft arguments in support of and in opposition to criminal liability;
  • interview police officers, witnesses, and clients to determine appropriate criminal charges; (Even thought this is a doctrinal course, I include skills exercises through flipped-classroom exercises.) and
  • work with codes (e.g., New York Penal Law) effectively.

Doctrinal Course: Criminal Procedure

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • understand the rules that govern arraignment through sentencing in a criminal case
  • appreciate and articulate the rationales governing basic rules of “bail to jail” criminal procedure and the Supreme Court precedents in this area
  • identify the various pitfalls for unwary prosecutors and defense counsel and know how to avoid them
  • argue persuasively at a pretrial release hearing and other proceedings  (I use a class meeting to conduct mock bail hearings.)
  • appreciate the ethical obligations of prosecutors and defense attorneys  (In retrospect, “appreciate” is perhaps not a good word choice. It’s too fuzzy. “Understand” might be better.)

Writing Course: Appellate Advocacy for Moot Court

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • work effectively in a team; (Because this class is specific for students in our Moot Court Honor Society, I want them to learn how to work together in groups. We talk in class about how to do so.)
  • understand and apply standard of review;
  • understand and comply with rules of procedure for appellate courts and moot court competitions;  (The course focuses on both real world appellate procedure and moot court competitions.)
  • research effectively online and in print publications;
  • organize an appellate brief involving a sophisticated and complex legal or mixed legal/factual issue;
  • compose a brief that is centered around a cohesive and persuasive theme;
  • draft effective point headings;
  • write effective arguments using effective, concise arguments;
  • summarize facts in a persuasive manner;
  • write in a clear, legalese-free, and plain manner; and
  • conduct an oral argument that is persuasive, conversational, and effective.  (This course is ambitious, but students earn 3 credits.)

Writing Course: 1L Legal Writing (Spring Semester)

By the end of this semester, you should be able to:

  • research in secondary authorities, statutes, cases, administrative materials, and legislative history, in both state and federal systems;
  • conduct research in both print and electronic form;
  • articulate the structural and rhetorical differences between objective and persuasive writing;
  • craft legal arguments using a variety of persuasive devices;
  • cite authorities in Bluebook form;
  • write each of the components of an appellate brief;
  • present oral argument to a court; and
  • continue to spot and analyze basic issues of professional responsibility.