CharlotteLaw Edge: Innovative curriculum grounded in real-world learning experiences

Charlotte School of Law is challenging the traditional model of legal education by focusing on the practical skills required for success in the legal field. Charlotte School of Law is leading legal education in an exciting new direction by placing a strong emphasis on experiential learning, starting on the first day of classes. CharlotteLaw Edge is a curriculum approach for all incoming students that is grounded in real-world learning experiences, award-winning community service, and demonstrated success in preparing students for the evolving and emerging market realities that today’s graduates must navigate.

Our new curriculum is designed to facilitate bar examination success and readiness to step directly into law practice or law-related careers. In addition to legal theory, our new curriculum emphasizes practical training in the skills and knowledge required to practice law, run a law practice, communicate with clients and manage cases and transactions.  The Charlotte School of Law faculty is composed of individuals with rich practice backgrounds and are thus uniquely qualified to deliver a program that will make a difference in students’ professional readiness.

CharlotteLaw Edge also ensures that all students have at least one intensive and reflective practice-based learning experience during law school. In addition to an extensive  cooperative education and externship program, Charlotte School of Law currently has eight (8) client clinic programs including Criminal Justice, Immigration Law, Family Advocacy, Community Economic Development, Civil Rights, Entrepreneurship, Tax Controversy  and Domestic Violence. These direct representation clinics enable students to take what they learned in the classroom and apply that knowledge in helping people with real legal problems. Students develop not only an understanding of substantive law, but also an appreciation for what it means to have a real client and to advocate effectively for that client.

Access to Justice Requirement under CharlotteLaw Edge

All incoming Charlotte School of Law students are required to perform 50 hours of qualifying public service over the course of their law school career.  While all 50 hours may be done pro bono, up to 30 hours may be completed through qualifying experiences in any course (i.e., clinic, externship, clinical lab, practicum); public interest job; or pro bono project.

Advantages of CharlotteLaw Edge

  • Provides students with support needed to successfully graduate,
    pass the bar, and start a career.
  • More assessments and feedback to ensure academic success.
  • “Problems in Practice”: Small-section courses designed specifically to teach practice ready skills.
  • Teaches a broader range of competencies than a traditional legal education.
  • Is a supportive, sequential journey that helps students build confidence in their abilities.
  • Ensures every student acquires real world knowledge by providing a “live practice experience” for all students prior to graduation.

CharlotteLaw Edge First Year Course Descriptions

A two-week intensive course that begins the law school experience at Charlotte School of Law, Introduction to the Study of Law is designed to bridge the transition from college and other graduate studies to the study of law. The course recognizes that every student begins law school with different backgrounds, different skills and talents, and different exposure to the legal system, so the course is designed to provide all students with a baseline understanding of the requirements of legal study and practice. The primary focus of the course will be to instill the ethics, values, and professionalism of our profession from the very first entry into the profession, to introduce students to the justice system and sources of law, to prepare students for the study of law, and to introduce students to legal discourse.

CIVIL PROCEDURE (4 credits):
This course introduces students to the basics of civil litigation practice, including the rules governing the conduct of the lawsuit from filing a complaint through judgment, the principles controlling access to and jurisdiction of courts, and the ethical implications of civil litigation practice. The Civil Procedure course specifically includes a discussion of pleading, sanctions, notice, service of process, joinder, summary judgment, subject matter and personal jurisdiction, venue, choice of law, and preclusion.

CRIMINAL LAW (3 Credits)
This course looks at the purpose, effectiveness and methodology of the regulation of human conduct by the infliction or threat of infliction of criminal sanctions. The definitional elements of primary crimes, principles of responsibility, rules of justification, and accessory liability are examined.

TORTS (4 credits):
A comprehensive survey of civil liability for harm to person or property including intentional torts (battery, assault, false imprisonment, trespass to land, trespass to chattel, and defenses), negligence (duty, breach, causation, damages, and defenses), strict liability, vicarious liability, dignitary torts, and economic torts.

This course provides instruction in legal research, analysis and writing. Students learn to use various sources of law and learn the analytical and organizational skills needed to produce objective legal memoranda.

An experiential course designed to introduce students to basic practice skills and writing required in civil litigation. This course is also designed to enhance and enrich the concepts learned in Civil Procedure and Torts by framing these concepts in a real world, practice-oriented perspective. In the course, students will gather facts from a client or witness interview, draft pleadings and motions, and presenting legal findings orally.

LEGAL RESEARCH (1 credit):
This intensive, one-week course helps students understand that effective and efficient legal research is a process. Students will learn how to develop research plans to help identify key search terms and the most relevant secondary and primary resources to find the law on a topic. Research tools and techniques introduced during Lawyering Process I will give way to more advanced research strategies, with an emphasis on the cost-effective use of free and subscription online databases and other specialized resources. Students will gain experience researching legislative history, and will be introduced to practice guides and topical resources to help advance their clinical and externship experiences.

Prerequisite: Lawyering Process I

PROPERTY (4 credits):
In Property, students will examine the practice and theory of modern property rights and responsibilities. Within a historical context, this course is intended to prepare students to deal effectively with a wide range of issues regarding both real and personal property. Generally, this course will cover, but is not limited to, the following topics: adverse possession; ownership, including co-ownership and present and future interests; landlord tenant; servitudes, including easements and covenants; the title system including transfers by deed, estoppels by deed, and the recording system.

CONTRACTS (4 credits):
Through this course, it is expected that students will know the following: the rules that govern contract formation; the elements of a valid contract; defenses to contract formation and enforcement; the parol evidence rule; rules for contract interpretation and implied terms; the creation, effect, occurrence and discharge of express and constructive conditions; post-formation events that may excuse performance; rights of third party
beneficiaries; assignment and delegation; and the remedies for breach of contract.

In this course, students focus upon written and oral advocacy, legal history and philosophy, and personal qualities that are critical to success and effective interaction. The course builds upon the skills students learned in Lawyering Process I by teaching students how research, analysis, organization and writing are used to persuade.
The course also includes an oral argument component designed to train students how to argue substantively and persuasively on behalf of a client.

Prerequisite: Lawyering Process I

An experiential course designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of the transactional practice of law, including deal drafting, client counseling, and negotiation. In the course students will complete a series of practice-ready assignments as junior associates of a fictional law firm using fact patterns that incorporate aspects of traditional contracts and real property doctrine to demonstrate how doctrine translates into the practice of law. This course is also designed to build upon foundational legal research skills learned in the first semester of law school to help students begin to learn how to use research findings to draft deal documents and counsel clients.

The First Year of CharlotteLaw Edge

The First Semester

First year students will begin their legal education with an intensive introduction to the law and law school. This immersion session provides students with a strong foundation in the structure of the American legal system, case law, and the fundamentals of legal writing.

The remainder of the first semester is focused on the civil litigation system, with substantive classes in Civil Procedure and Torts, in addition to intensive instruction in legal writing. Interwoven throughout this semester, students will complete their first practical skills course. This “Problems in Practice” class will translate the legal concepts studied into simulated litigation. This class will meet during planned breaks in the semester, allowing students to focus exclusively on applying what they have learned in their substantive classes to a real world situation. Students will draft pleadings, engage in discovery, and argue motions. Students who begin their
studies in August take the following courses in their first semester:


  • Introduction to the Study of Law (2 credits)

Fall Semester:

  • Civil Procedure (4 credits)
  • Torts (4 credits)* Part-time students will not take it this semester
  • Problems in Practice: Civil Wrongdoing (1 credit)
  • Lawyering Process I (3 credits)
  • Introduction to Professional Responsibility(1 credit)

The Second Semester

The second semester begins with an intensive immersion focused on honing students’ legal research skills.

The remainder of the second semester focuses primarily on the transactional side of the law, with substantive classes in Property and Contracts, while continuing intensive instruction in legal writing. The second semester practical skills course is focused on application of the substantive concepts studied, with students negotiating and drafting commercial agreements. Students also take Criminal Law this semester. Students who begin their studies in August take the following courses in their second semester:


  • Legal Research (1 credit)

Fall Semester:

  • Property (4 credits)
  • Contracts (4 credits)
  • Problems in Practice: Commercial Agreements (1 credit)
  • Criminal Law (3 credits)
  • Lawyering Process II (3 credits)

The Second Year of CharlotteLaw Edge

In their second year, students will build on both the substantive knowledge and practical skills developed in their first year. One semester of the second year will focus on litigation courses, while the other will focus on transactional courses.

The Litigation Semester

The Litigation Semester begins with an intensive litigation immersion program focusing on legal knowledge management, professionalism and ethics in the litigation context. After the immersion week, students study Evidence and Criminal Procedure. Second-year students will also complete a more sophisticated and detailed litigation skills course, taking a simulated litigation matter from the pleadings through discovery to trial.

The Transactional Semester

The transactional semester begins with an intensive transactional immersion course focused on legal project management, professionalism and ethics. For the remainder of the semester, students will study Business Associations, Secured Transactions and Decedents’ Estates and participate in a sophisticated transactional simulation course.

The Third Year of CharlotteLaw Edge

The third year is the culmination of the Charlotte School of Law experience and is focused on hands-on learning and doing what lawyers do. Students also have the opportunity to focus on specialized areas of the law.

Real World Placements

Each third-year student will complete a full-time or part-time real world placement. Among other things, these placements will include Charlotte School of Law’s live-client clinics; externships with organizations such as legal aid, prosecutor’s offices, public defender’s offices and judges; and cooperative education programs with corporate legal departments and law firms.

Practice Simulations

Additionally, each student will take at least one intensive, practice-simulation course. These courses will require students to perform the same type of substantive work as a first or second year associate in a law firm. Each practice-simulation course will focus on a particular area of the law and require the students to quickly develop
a sophisticated understanding of the law and to apply the law to complex, real world scenarios.

Both the real world placements and the practice simulations will be demanding. Students will have to hone their legal reasoning, judgment and communications skills. They will learn to prioritize and organize multiple projects and deadlines. Students will refine the skills that will enable them to hit the ground running in practice.