Saint Louis University

Course Descriptions

The following is a list of courses offered through the Office of Pre-Health & Pre-Law Studies. The courses are subject to change and may not be offered in both the fall and spring semesters. Please refer to the pages describing the secondary major in legal studies, minor in legal studies, and the Pre-law Scholars Program for the exact list of required classes for each of those programs. Students get broad exposure to legal principles in these courses which helps prepare students for the academic challenge of law school.

PLS 1000: Introduction to Law 
This course provides students with an introduction to the law and legal principles. The structure of the court system, civil litigation and methods of alternative dispute resolution will be examined. Elements of the following areas of substantive law will be examined: torts, contracts, property, trusts and estates, corporations, family law, and criminal law and procedure.

PLS 1050: Introduction to Legal Careers 
Students who are not able to take the pre-law section of U101 should consider this course. Students will explore the different areas of practice in law from Admiralty law to Trusts and Estates. Students will explore where these specialty areas lawyers work, who their clients are, the type of cases they handle, the daily activities this lawyer engages in, and what does the specialty lawyer find rewarding about their practice. Students will explore how people enter a particular specialty field, what skills sets are necessary for success and what classes and law school experience do these specialty lawyers recommend.

PLS 2000: Introduction to Legal Research and Writing 
This course has two main objectives: (1) to introduce legal research and (2) to introduce students to the fundamentals of legal reasoning and analysis. Students will be required complete a series of research and writing exercises and a final legal analysis paper.

PLS 2200: Law: A Service Learning Experience 
In this course, students will engage in a service learning experience that will involve a teaching opportunity at a local inner city high school.  Students will learn about public policy and how to use the law to achieve that policy.

PLS 2500: The Anatomy of a Lawsuit 
Students will study the fundamental principles of a civil jury trial from its inception through the trial and post-trial phases by following one case. The course will teach basic civil practice procedure as well as the relationship between the judicial system, attorneys and parties in a civil cause of action. Students will develop a basic understanding of trial advocacy and its place in the American system of justice.

PLS 3000: Alternative Dispute Resolution 
In this course, students will study the nature of conflict and explore dispute resolution techniques that provide alternatives to litigation. The course will explore specific dispute resolution techniques including negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and other forms of dispute resolution.

PLS 3100: Introduction to Trial Advocacy 
This course teaches students how to prepare a legal case for a jury trial. Students learn the basic building blocks of a jury trial, the development of trial strategy, and the use of evidence at trial. The course focuses on advocacy techniques and the application of those techniques to the court setting. In conjunction with this course, students are required to simultaneously enroll in PLS 3200: Introduction to Trial Advocacy Lab where students will employ the techniques in a practical setting as members of the undergraduate mock trial team.

PLS 3200: Introduction to Trial Advocacy Lab
This course is taken in conjunction with PLS 3100. In the lab portion of the class, students will participate in mock trials, and put to practice the theories discussed in lecture.

PLS 3400: Trial Advocacy Practicum Lab 
Students explore trial advocacy at an advanced level by participating in mock trial competitions sponsored by the American Mock Trial Association as both witnesses and attorneys. Students enrolling in this course must first complete PLS 3100: Introduction to Trial Advocacy and PLS 3200: Introduction to Trial Advocacy Lab or otherwise receive instructor permission.

PLS 3500: Environmental Law 
This course will provide an overview of environmental laws. The course will address the following environmental laws:  National Environment Policy Act; the Clean Air Act; The Water Pollution Act; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; and common law environmental remedies. Students will be taught the factual situations which trigger the application, requirements, and restrictions of the laws.

PLS 3930: Special Topics in Law 
This is a rotating course that will address various areas of law. Possible courses include health law, business law, constitutional law, etc.

PLS 3900: Introduction to Appellate Advocacy 
This course introduces students to the role of appellate courts in the judicial system. Students learn and apply the basic elements of appellate argument, including writing briefs and giving oral arguments. Students use a case problem to explore written and oral advocacy techniques in the court of appeals. Students prepare and present an oral argument at the end of the semester based upon the case problem. More information about this course can be found here

PLS 4960:
Comparative Legal Systems
Students will study various legal systems: religious, civil, common law, and international. They will examine issues and compare and contrast different legal treatments of these issues. Students will be required to write a 15-20 page paper in the course. 

PLS 4965: Foundations of Law 
This course is open to Pre-Law Scholars. Pre-Law students who have a GPA of 3.6 or higher can petition the course instructor for inclusion in the course. This seminar is designed to provide pre-law students an opportunity to critically examine public perceptions and expectations concerning the legal profession, basic concepts of justice, the rule of law, the judicial process, and the nature of contemporary law study. Through readings, discussion topics, media reports, and guest speakers, we will explore the manner in which lawyers serve--and struggle to serve--values important in a democratic society governed by the rule of law. 

PLS 4910: Legal Internship 
Interns work in private legal service agencies or federal, local, and state judicial systems. In selecting an internship, students are directed by the Pre-Law program and the political science department. Ideal for students interested in a legal career. You can find more information on securing a legal internship here.

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