Designed by Washington University School of Law faculty, the Master of Legal Studies (MLS) curriculum prepares students with fundamental knowledge of the U.S. legal system. Classes are taught using the interactive and discussion-based Socratic method, the most common and preferred method of instruction in U.S. law schools.
The program is 24 units and can be completed in as little as one year.
This course is designed to introduce students to U.S. contracts. Contracts are vitally important in understanding U.S. law as they are the foundation of corporate law and cover areas such as employment, loans and credit. In addition to learning principles behind U.S. theories of contractual obligation, the course is intended to provide instruction in "how to succeed" in a U.S. law school class.
Fundamentals of U.S. Law II: Civil Procedure | 3 units
This course is designed to introduce students to the process of U.S. civil litigation, focusing on topics such as procedural posture, the sequence of events in pre-trial and trial practice, and standards of appellate review. The course is intended to provide students with the skills necessary to read and analyze judicial decisions.
Introduction To U.S. Law & Methods I: U.S. Legal System | 3 units
The goal is to learn how law is found, made and changed in the U.S., rather than to focus on any particular area of law. The objective is to learn largely through assuming the role of a lawyer resolving a practical client problem with U.S. legal sources, methods and institutions. The course is organized by various sources of law: common law; statutes and regulations; constitutional law and case law; and interpreting and applied enacted law. In addition, the jury trial and the importance of procedure are covered. In each subject, the class formulates what appears to be distinctive in the U.S. system.
Introduction To U.S. Law & Methods II: Legal Writing | 1 unit
This skills course introduces students to effective formats and style for written communication with U.S. lawyers. In written comments and personal conferences as well as in class, professors emphasize prediction of probable court holdings through the analysis and synthesis of judicial decisions and statutes as well as the use of fact argument and analogy.
Professional Responsibility | 3 units
The goal of this course is to help prepare students for the ethical dilemmas they will face in legal settings. The course will examine the nature and types of lawyer regulation, client-attorney relationships, confidentiality rules, conflicts of interest, duties to courts, adversaries and third parties, client solicitation and billing, and access to legal services. The course addresses the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, the California Rules of Professional Conduct, relevant sections of the California Business and Professions Code and also considers ethical duties arising under common law and other sources of authority.
Business Associations | 3 units
This course is a survey of the law of business associations, emphasizing corporations and issues and problems relating to corporate governance. The course covers publicly and closely held corporations, the organization of business associations, the distribution of power and control between management and shareholders, with a focus on the fiduciary duties of directors and officers. In this regard, students explore the developing notions of fiduciary duties to shareholders and other stakeholders. The course explores the rapidly evolving nationalization of corporate governance standards and its implications. The course further focuses on practical application of the material by applying the fundamentals of corporate organization through collaborative class exercises.
Intellectual Property | 3 units
This course combines an overview of patents, trademarks and copyrights with a focus on early-stage issue recognition, planning and response. Specific topics include patent searches, patentability opinions, business name selection, business product/service/domain name selection and copyright registration.
Negotiation | 3 units
Students in this course learn the skills of negotiation through simulations, lectures and exercises in which they negotiate and observe their classmates and experts negotiate. Class members conduct at least three negotiations during the course — a sales contract, a retainer agreement between an attorney and a client, and a complex multiparty dispute. In addition to the simulations and discussion of the readings, there is instruction on drafting agreements and individualized advice about further steps to improve negotiation skills.
International Business Transactions | 2 units
Cross-border business transactions are the mainstay of the modern global economy, and very few transactions can be negotiated or performed without due consideration of implications that may arise in such an international environment. Accordingly, understanding of the legal aspects of private transactions carried out across national borders can be indispensable to the modern legal practice. This course provides a survey of such issues, including transnational sales, cross-border operations (including branch offices and subsidiaries), international business combinations (including mergers and joint ventures), and the role of international law (including treaties and international organizations such as the WTO and IMF). A series of problems will be used to explore the dynamics of planning, negotiating, creating and executing cross-border transactions.
Property | 3 units
An examination of real and personal property, the estate concept, some of the problems of landlord and tenant law, future interests, easements and legal principles of property law as they apply to the use of property in our society.
Constitutional Law | 3 units
This course will examine federalism issues under the Constitution, including judicial review, the commerce clause, separation of powers, and intergovernmental immunity. We will address fundamental questions such as the nature of a constitution, the foundations of judicial power, the forms of judicial review, the role of courts in different types of political systems, the institutional design of constitutional courts, and the evolution of constitutionalism on a global scale. We will pay particular attention to the development of the Fourteenth Amendment's liberty and equality guarantees, and discuss the appropriate roles of text, structure, history, and prudence in constitutional interpretation. In discussing these questions, we will examine how political and social change has influenced the resolution of constitutional disputes and how non-judicial actors, as well as courts, have constructed constitutional meanings.
Trial Advocacy | 1 unit
Trial Advocacy is a one-credit skills based course. Using a trial as our framework, students will learn such skills as client interviewing and counseling, direct examination, cross-examination, opening and closing arguments, and basic objections. Students will be graded on a variety of skills-based exercises throughout the session, as well as the final project which requires the students to give a closing argument.
Corporate Compliance | 3 units
What causes companies to break the law? How do we incentivize them not to? Who should we blame when they do? These are the core questions of corporate compliance and the focus of this class. Rather than reading several court decisions, this class will work primarily from case studies of recent compliance failures. Our goal will be to study what went wrong at the company level and whether the relevant laws are effectively designed to prevent the misconduct. We will also cover theories of regulatory enforcement and punishment. This course will be interesting for those considering compliance positions as well as those interested in regulatory agency and corporate defense practice.
Employment Law | 3 units
This course is designed to introduce students to U.S. employment law including laws, rules and regulations related to types of employment, hiring and firing practices, prohibited discriminatory practices, employee wages, hours and benefits requirements, and various governmental processes and procedures. This course is an experiential course in which students will have multiple opportunities to apply legal theory to practical, real-life settings.
Torts | 1 unit
This course will be an exploration of the law of torts. We will analyze arguments for and against holding persons liable for intentional acts, negligent acts, injuries to the person, and injuries to property. We will critically examine the theories of intentional torts, negligence, strict liability, vicarious liability, and other doctrines, studying the rules and principles that govern these areas of the law.
1 Course offerings and schedule are subject to change.↑
2Immersion/Weekend Intensive Course Electives: There are 1 credit Weekend Intensive courses offered during on-campus Immersions held every spring and fall semester. Additional Weekend Intensive Courses can be taken outside of the scheduled Immersions at a student’s convenience. Schedule and offerings vary by term. Students can take up to three Immersion or Weekend Intensive course electives for credit toward their degree.↑
Graduates of the online MLS program are ineligible to transfer to the residential JD program. Completion of the @WashULaw MLS degree program does not provide students with a qualifying credential to sit for a state bar exam in any of the fifty (50) United States of America or in the District of Columbia. The Washington University School of Law makes no warranty, express or implied, that completion of the @WashULaw MLS degree program qualifies a student to sit for a state bar exam in any of the fifty (50) United States of America or in the District of Columbia.