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All VLS Courses

Course Name

GPP I - Domestic Relations

General PracticeFamily

This course is an introduction to the substantive law of domestic relations, including divorce, domestic violence, parental rights and responsibilities, child support, spousal maintenance, property settlements, tax consequences, and ethical considerations. Students in this course will also learn to: conduct an initial and follow-up interview of a client; draft a complaint and related documents; prepare and maintain a client file; counsel a client regarding one or more aspects of a divorce; negotiate the economic aspects of a divorce; draft a stipulation; and research and draft a short memorandum to the court. This course is required for all GPP certificate students.

GPP II - Commercial Transactions

General PracticeBusiness

Advice to clients respecting commercial transactions, that is, as to binding agreements between parties of all sorts involving the transfer of goods and services, lies at the core of the private practice of law. This course is an introduction to the negotiation, drafting, performance and enforcement of such agreements in a "real world" context, with a particular emphasis on the interpretation and understanding of Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code, with at least a nod to U.C.C. Articles 9 (secured transactions) and 3 (negotiable instruments) as they impact on these transactions. In the context of a law firm's actual practice, students will prepare to interview and advise clients on proposed transactions, identify and resolve legal and ethical issues, negotiate the terms of commercial contracts, draft such contracts and analyze and advise clients on issues of performance and breach.

GPP II - Employment Law/Pre-Trial Litigation

General Practice

Disputes between employers and their employees have given rise to a specialized area of law. This course explores the anatomy of a lawsuit by challenging students to learn substantive employment principles and apply those principles to a highly charged dispute. Students learn pretrial strategies by representing either the employer or the employee from the initial client contact until the eve of trial. They will conduct the interview of a difficult client, draft a complaint, answer, and demand letter, conduct a negotiation and draft a pretrial brief in the course of their representation.

GPP II - Environmental Issues In Business Transactions

General PracticeEnvironmental

An exploration of the types of environmental risks and issues that are commonly confronted in a variety of business-related transactions such as the acquisition of all a company’s stock, asset purchases, real estate deals, leases and financings. Special focus on how the environmental issues in transactions are identified and managed in the course of a deal. The unique environmental issues associated with the purchase and redevelopment of contaminated properties or so-called “Brownfield sites” are also covered.

GPP III - Criminal Law

General Practice

This segment of the GPP is taught through the life cycle of a criminal case from the offense and investigation through sentencing. Classes focus on substantive law as related to the case study fact patterns presented. Students act as prosecutors and defense attorneys. Students will present bail hearings and sentencing hearings, and will have two written assignments based on their case files. Most classes will also include discussions of practical ethical issues that arise in criminal cases. Students may expect to develop a solid understanding of how a typical criminal case proceeds. Final grades are based on the two hearings, two written assignments, and class participation.

GPP III - International Intellectual Property

General Practice

In today's economy, the transfer of intellectual property rights plays an important role in domestic and international trade, particularly in the software and entertainment industries. This course will introduce students to the legal and ethical issues involved in the production of creative and artistic works across national boundaries. Students will develop a strong understanding of the primary sources of international copyright law, and the influence of culture on country practices involving protection of intellectual property. Students will advise their client on a particular transaction involving the creation of an artistic work, research and resolve legal and ethical issues, and negotiate and draft select documents. Satisfies perspective requirement.

GPP III - Representing Entrepreneurial Business

General Practice

This course will explore the basic stages of setting up an entrepreneurial business, raising finance for it, and selling it as a going concern. Issues addressed will include understanding the basic concerns of business planning from the client’s perspective, choosing the form of entity, dealing with the regulatory requirements for raising capital, and questions relating to the attorney-client relationship. Projects will include the drafting of documents for a number of simulated business transactions. Skills emphasized include interviewing, drafting instruments and agreements, research on legal and business topics, and business planning fundamentals. Ethical issues are raised and resolved.

GPP IV - Estate Planning/Personal Injury

General Practice
Eric Janson
Martha Smyrski

This course combines two courses: Estate Planning is an introduction to estate planning and probate including the law of wills, testamentary and intervivos trusts, basic probate of wills, basic income and estate tax considerations, powers of attorney, and ethical and malpractice issues. Students in this segment will learn to draft a simple will and simple trust for surviving spouse and minor children, conduct a client intake interview, probate a basic estate, and prepare a durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney, and living will. In Personal Injury, students will represent either the plaintiff or the defendant in a personal injury claim. And will focus on the collection and assessment of evidence that takes place during the early stages of civil litigation. Students will learn about the discovery mechanisms available in civil litigation generally, and, more specifically, about the information sharing process between the lawyer, the client, the medical experts and the insurance companies in a personal injury case. Students will draft interrogatories and other discovery documents, conduct a deposition, and manage medical documents and evidence. At the end of the process, students will analyze the available information in order to assess the likelihood of success of the claim at trial, and to make a recommendation regarding settlement. Ethical and professional responsibility issues will be discussed throughout the segment.

GPP IV - Municipal Law

General Practice

Representing a client at the municipal level is a challenge like no other in the law. A good attorney must be prepared for everything in forums that occasionally rely more on group sentiment and politics than procedure and rigor. Yet, municipal work is often the most rewarding as the work here as immediate and profound impacts on the community. This course is an introduction to the various issues faced by lawyers representing local government entities. Students will become familiar with the procedures for challenging or defending actions taken by municipalities. Assignments will challenge students to navigate between charter, statutory, bylaw and constitutional obligations. They will draft legal opinions for municipal staff, attend a municipal meeting, and conduct a mock selectboard meeting on a contested issue as well as drafting supporting memoranda on that issue.