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Vanderbilt Law School faculty created and designed the online Master of Legal Studies curriculum from the ground-up for engaging online learning. The program offers a mixture of core courses and electives, allowing you to take foundational classes with the same cohort of students, while tailoring your advanced classes to your specific interests. The core courses are based on the first year curriculum for JD students with a focus on the structure of U.S. Law, corporations, contracts, torts, and legal research, among others.

You can expect approximately 16 hours of work per week, which may include lecture videos, reading, discussions, and assessments. In addition, there will be recorded synchronous class sessions. If you are unable to attend these sessions, you will be able to watch the recordings when it best fits your schedule.

You will have the option in your second year to come to campus for a short course, which takes place primarily over a weekend and includes the chance to meet with a faculty member and fellow students.


Courses

Core Courses

Course No. Course Title Credits
6000 Introduction to U.S. Law 3
6010 Corporations and Business Entities 3
6020 Contracts 3
6030 Regulatory State and Compliance 3
6040 Legal Research 3
6110 Torts 3
6120 Property 1.5
6130 Constitutional Law (Rights) 3
6140 Criminal Law 3
25.5

Electives

Course No. Course Title Credits
6510 Intellectual Property Survey 1.5
6520 Employment Law 3
6530 Tax 1.5
6540 Negotiation 1.5

Course Descriptions

Core Courses

This class introduces the structure of the American legal system, to the forms of legal reasoning, and to the sources and nature of law and legal advice. It also introduces students to the tools for identifying, referencing, and evaluating legal texts.

Experiential learning activities:

Case studies, policy debates, role-playing exercises, and “virtual field trips” using Vanderbilt campus services.

Learning objectives:

  • Develop a knowledge of the foundational structures and rules necessary for legal studies
  • Distinguish between structures of the legal system as well as federal and state governments
  • Identify sources of legal rules
  • Analyze the rationales for legal rules
  • Evaluate sources of legal risk
  • Identify the stages of the litigation process and the roles of the participants

A study of the modern business corporation, both publicly held and closely held enterprises, including the organization and financial structuring of corporations; the allocation of control among shareholders, directors, and officers; the responsibilities of management and controlling shareholders; and the issuance of corporate securities.

This course explores the general law of contracts. In addition to studying the definition of a contract and how it differs from other promises, this course explores the common components, interpretation, and enforceability mechanisms of contracts, as well as what happens when contracts are violated.

Experiential learning activities:

Case studies, self-reflective questions, research, quizzes, discussions

Learning Objectives:

  • Distinguish a contract from other types of promises
  • Define the key components of a contract
  • Describe situations where agreements are not enforceable
  • Identify ways that contracts allocate risk
  • Explain the basic principles that guide contract interpretation
  • Determine the consequences of a breach of contract
  • Explain the meaning and importance of common boilerplate contractual provisions

This course provides an overview of the ways in which administrative agencies operate in our legal system. It will provide an overview of the most important forms of agency actions – rulemakings, adjudications, and guidance – as well as an introduction to how to contest, interpret, and advocate before agencies.

Experiential learning activities:

Case studies, polling activities, debating policy directions

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the various ways regulations impact individuals and businesses
  • Interpret regulations and identify sources for interpreting regulations
  • Understand how agencies conduct investigations and adjudications
  • Recognize which aspects of regulatory framework are likely to be subject to change
  • Develop a strategic sensibility of how to advocate before an agency

This class introduces students to the basic tools of legal research. It teaches students to use specialized electronic databases for legal research and develops legal research skills more broadly.

Experiential learning activities:

Scenario-based case study, legal research practice, role play.

Learning Objectives:

  • Independently identify and locate appropriate resources to answer common legal research questions.
  • Understand that for most legal questions, secondary sources describing the law governing an issue provide an ideal starting point for research.
  • Use different types of legal primary resources, and understand how and where they are published.

This course focuses on liability for intentional harm to person or property and for similar harm caused by negligent conduct.

This course emphasizes fundamental concepts in American property law. It explores the role of property in the American legal system, identifies legal tools that facilitate property transactions, and introduces technical vocabulary that lawyers use when discussing property, and examines the interaction between private property and public power.

Experiential learning activities:

Case studies, policy debates, observational activities that ask students to draw from and apply their professional experiences

Learning objectives:

  • Identify how property law fits into the legal system
  • Identify core property concepts and doctrines including original acquisition, chain of title, concurrent interests, leaseholds, trespass, nuisance, easements, and covenants
  • Apply core property concepts and doctrines including original acquisition, chain of title, concurrent interests, leaseholds, trespass, nuisance, easements, and covenants

An introductory study of due process and equal protection as general constitutional restrictions on all government actions that affect individuals and an introduction to the structural role of the Supreme Court in enforcing those constitutional restrictions against the other units of state and federal government.

This course will explore fundamental concepts in American criminal law and American criminal procedure.

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the vocabulary lawyers and judges use in processing criminal cases, the ways in which the criminal legal system effectuates society’s goals, and the central controversies associated with that system.

Experiential learning activities:

Plea-bargaining exercise, case studies, policy debates, role-playing exercise, cooperative-learning jigsaw activities

Learning objectives:

  • Read and understand the elements of a typical criminal statute
  • Identify the primary components of criminal law defenses
  • Identify the stages of the criminal process and the roles of the participants
  • Analyze the risks and benefits of punishing given conduct

Electives

This course explores fundamental concepts in American intellectual property law, more particularly copyright, trademark, patent, and trade secret law. Topics covered in this course include how rights are created and the registration process, as well as the scope of protections and applicable exceptions. It also briefly explores international aspects.

Experiential learning activities:

Case study, self-reflective questions, research, quizzes, discussion, and polling

Learning objectives:

  • Identify what types of objects or information can be protected by copyright, trademark, patent, and trade secret law
  • Identify cases when applying for or registering intellectual property rights is necessary or useful, and where and how to do so
  • Apply basic principles of intellectual property law to common simple situations in various types of industry or business
  • Understand the basic elements of the international protection of copyright, patents, and trademarks

This course outlines the basic concepts, principles, and statutes that define employment law in the United States. After exploring what distinguishes an employment relationship from other types of workplace relationships, this course considers how the employment relationship affects the legal responsibilities that businesses and workers have towards each other and towards third parties.

Experiential learning activities:

Case study, self-reflective questions, research, quizzes, discussion, assignment, and online resource reading

Learning objectives:

  • Distinguish and employer and employee from other types of workplace relationships
  • Describe the implications of an employment relationship, as opposed to other types of workplace relationships
  • Define the default rule of employment at will
  • Identify common methods of contracting around the default rule
  • Recognize the limited privacy rights available to employees in the workplace
  • Identify the duties that employers have towards their employees, particularly with respect to wage and hour rights
  • Identify the duties that employees have towards their employers

This is a basic course on federal income taxation that studies the operation of the federal tax system and its application to various types of taxpayers. Emphasis on such concepts as gross income, exclusion, deductions, assignment of income, capital gains and losses, and tax accounting problems as well as tax problems arising in business activities, family arrangements, property transfers, and the tax planning relevant to dealing with them.

Experiential learning activities:

Assignment, discussion, calculation, and research

Learning objectives:

  • Examine federal income tax
  • Outline the policy goals that underlie the federal income tax
  • Analyze some of the inefficiencies in the federal income tax

This intensive short course will focus on the theory and practice of negotiation. Course topics will include conflict style, adversarial negotiation, and problem-solving negotiation.


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