In May 2014, Hofstra Law adopted a policy regarding learning outcomes, and has since updated that policy in October 2019. The policy was adopted for a number of reasons, including (1) a desire to help ensure that the Law School was offering courses strategically designed to meet the needs of our students and (2) a desire to help students make more informed choices in selecting their courses, thereby enabling them to locate those courses in the curriculum that best suit their particular needs.
Certainly no one course can expect to address each and every learning outcome identified by the Law School. Rather, the hope and expectation is that by the time a student graduates, having fulfilled 87 credits worth of coursework at the Law School, each and every one of these learning outcomes will have been achieved in some form along the way.
As of fall 2014, course syllabi include a section identifying the learning outcomes for their courses. These are modeled upon the outcomes adopted by the Law School, and customized as appropriate.
Please note that instructors are encouraged, but not required, to include this information in their syllabi. As such, some course syllabi might lack a learning outcomes section.
Also as of fall 2014, the Law School maintains a bank of current and past course syllabi organized by instructor and course name.
Although syllabi are subject to change, it is unlikely that the learning outcomes for a given course taught by a particular instructor will change dramatically from one year to the next.
For that reason, the Law School encourages its students to consult the syllabus bank as they go about selecting their courses for an upcoming semester. Students should attempt to take courses that list as outcomes those objectives that the student has yet to meet, or that address areas in which the student would prefer to develop even greater proficiency.
Each faculty member is encouraged, but not required, to include a list of “learning outcomes” as part of the course description in the online Curriculum Guide and in the course syllabus distributed to students.
The list of learning outcomes may include one or more of the outcomes from the Law School’s adopted list, as well as any additional learning outcomes identified by the faculty member for the particular course.
Students should be able to use these goals statements to help make course selections and in framing their expectations for the course in conjunction with the Law School’s system of course selection advisement.
For those faculty members who choose to identify learning outcomes, the Dean’s Office will, at the faculty member’s option, add a question to the course evaluation asking students whether they think the learning outcomes as stated by the faculty member have been addressed.
Hofstra Law’s Plan for Student Compliance with the New Skills Competency Requirement for Admission in New York
The Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University will ensure that our graduates will have ample opportunity to comply with the new Skills Competency requirement, Section 520.18, for admission to practice law in New York. The description of our plan for J.D. students, which was unanimously approved by our faculty in March 2016, is set forth below.
Our school will ensure that all of our J.D. students are able to comply with the new Skills Competency requirement via Pathway #1. We recently adopted a plan that identifies how we have incorporated into our curriculum the skills and professional values that, in the school's judgment, are required for our graduates' basic competence and ethical participation in the legal profession. The faculty used our list of approved learning outcomes as a guideline for making that determination. Specifically, we identified those courses in our curriculum that provide students with proficiency in the learning outcomes that we have already identified as teaching the professional skills and values needed for an entry-level lawyer.
The chart below indicates that two of our required first-year courses and two of our upper-level required courses provide instruction in a range of professional skills and values identified in our list of learning outcomes:
|Legal Analysis, Writing & Research I and II
|5 credits total
|[From Category 4] Students learn:
(a) how to write analytically and persuasively;
(b) draft legal documents
[From Category 5] Students learn how to:
(a) extract rules and policy from cases, statutes, and administrative regulations and analyzing, interpreting and arguing differing interpretations of rules and statutes;
(b) identifying legal issues in facts and
applying rules and policy to facts;
(c) constructing arguments and identifying flaws in an argument;
(d) performing comprehensive legal research;
(e) presenting analysis orally and arguing orally
|Foundational Lawyering Skills
|[From Category 6] Students learn:
(a) strategic planning: developing a plan to accomplish a goal;
(b) problem solving in light of a client’s objectives: anticipating consequences and assessing risks;
(d) negotiating in both dispute and transactional contexts;
(e) counseling clients;
(g) performing basic trial tasks;
(h) using procedural tools such as motions and discovery;
(i) working collaboratively;
(k) learning from experience through self-critique;
(m) presenting orally outside of litigation;
|Lawyers’ Ethics (or other courses that meet the professional responsibility graduation requirement)
|[From Category 6] Students learn:
(c) recognizing the most common ethical and professional liability dilemmas and resolving them with high professional standards;
[From Category 7] Students learn how to:
(b) conduct him or herself in accordance with standards of professional conduct;
(c) fulfill a lawyer’s commitment to competence, integrity, accountability, and social responsibility;
(d) apply the principles and policies reflected in the law governing lawyers, including a lawyer’s duty of loyalty to clients, fiduciary duties, and obligation of zealous representation
Given the comprehensive instruction that each of our J.D. students receive in the areas of professional skills and values by taking these required courses, coupled with the requirement that they must take 3 additional credits of experiential elective courses, we adopted a plan for our students that would permit us to certify our students as having achieved competency under Pathway 1 by successfully passing all of the above required courses (in all of which our students receive letter grades), in addition to successful completion of 3 additional elective credits in experiential courses.
Of course, all students who participate in our Pro Bono Scholars Program will also comply with the rule pursuant to Pathway #3.