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    May 18, 2024  
2018-2019 Law School Student Handbook 
2018-2019 Law School Student Handbook [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Special Programs

The special programs described below provide opportunities for students to earn credit through experiential learning, writing and publishing, clinics and externship programs.

Law Review

Law Review membership is among the highest honors that a student can earn during law school. First year membership provides students with opportunities to develop their skills in legal research, writing, and analysis, while second year membership provides valuable experience working on the editing process.

Each year, under the supervision of faculty advisers, selected students publish the Golden Gate University Law Review, which is included in the databases on Westlaw, LexisNexis, and HeinOnline.

Law Review is staffed by full-time and part-time students in their second, third, or fourth year of law school. Membership on Law Review is determined by grades or through a writing competition. Interested students should contact the Editor-in-Chief ( with any questions regarding eligibility.

Membership on Law Review is a two year commitment; members earn a total of six academic credits, with two units awarded during fall semester and one unit awarded during spring semester for both years of membership. Members are eligible to serve on the Editorial Board in their second year on Law Review. Some board positions earn an additional academic credit. The Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor are both eligible to receive 4 units of credit, while the Executive Articles Editor, Executive Comments Editor, Ninth Circuit Survey Executive Editor, Executive Research Editor, and Executive Online Editor are eligible to receive 3 units of credit.

Informational sessions are held prior to the spring write-on competition. Dates and times of these sessions will be published in Law School News. Students with questions about law review should contact the Editor-in-Chief at

Environmental Law Journal

The Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal (ELJ) is a student-run publication dedicated to exploring contemporary and emerging issues in environmental law and policy. The ELJ not only showcases creativity and scholarship in the area of environmental law, but also provides an opportunity for Golden Gate University Law School students to be published alongside esteemed faculty and environmental law professionals.

The ELJ publishes one or two issues annually:

The “Symposium Edition” is published in the fall and contains lead articles written by academics and professionals, as well as student notes, comments and/or summaries. Its publication is coordinated with the Environmental Law Symposium that is held by Golden Gate University. The “Pacific Region Edition” contains lead articles written by academics and professionals, as well as student notes, comments and/or summaries focusing on environmental law and policy issues in the Pacific Region (including, but not  limited to, the North American Pacific Coast and the Asian Pacific Rim and Basin). The inaugural issues of Volume I of the Golden Gate Environmental Law Journal were published during the 2007-2008 school year.

To be eligible for the ELJ, applicants must be JD or LLM students in good academic standing, have a minimum required course GPA of 2.5, and have completed 30 units or the equivalent of the first year required courses for their program. The application processes for writers and editors are both held in the spring, but the requirements are slightly different for editorial positions. Membership for writers is determined by grades or through a writing competition, while membership for editors is determined after the submission of a resume, cover letter, and writing sample.

The ELJ is a one-year commitment, and members earn three academic credits. Two units are awarded for the first semester and one unit for the second semester. Members who choose to continue on the ELJ for a second year become Associate Editors. Second year members are eligible to run for the Editorial Board. The Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor can earn four academic credits, while the Pacific Region Edition Editor, Symposium Edition Editor, and Research Editors can earn three academic credits.

Annual Survey of Comparative & International Law

The Annual Survey of International and Comparative Law provides a forum for the scholarly publication of articles written by academics, practitioners and other professionals working in the areas of international and comparative law and related fields. The Annual Survey encourages research based on empirical observations and experience, as well as theoretical and multi-disciplinary approaches.

Students who have been selected by the Production Editor to work on the Annual Survey will edit articles submitted by outside and selected student authors. Student articles are selected through a writing competition. JD students who have completed 30 units of first year required courses by the end of the spring semester (full-time first year or part-time second year students), are eligible to apply to work on the Survey in a mentee capacity. Membership requires a one semester commitment in the spring, and students may participate for more than one spring semester with the approval of the Production Editor. Information about this program is available from Professor Chris Okeke (

The Production Editor receives 2 academic credits for working on the journal. All other second and third year student editors receive 1 academic credit for their editorial work on the journal.

Academic Development & Bar Services Department

  1. Academic Development Program (ADP)
    The Academic Development Program is part of the Center for Student Success. It is committed to the academic success of each law student. Starting with the first year, ADP provides a wide range of academic support services throughout a student’s time at GGU, including administration of the first-year Practice Intensive Courses, one-on-one academic support, and academic skills-related workshops and courses. ADP also works individually with students on Academic Supervision and Academic Probation to improve their academic standing.

    Skills covered by ADP programming include the following:
    • Legal Literacy: The ability to think and communicate like a lawyer. This includes the ability to read and listen closely, note relevant details, and understand the key points or legal significance in readings and discussion.
    • Synthesis: The ability to take a large amount of information consisting of reading material, class notes, and other course-related material, and distill it down to an analytical framework or exam-targeted outline of reasonable length.
    • Self-Reliance/Self-Monitoring: The ability, with initial guidance and support from instructors, to assess one’s own preparation and performance and identify areas for improvement.
    • Analysis through Practice: The ability to perform thorough legal analysis (i.e. applying facts to law while examining alternative arguments) with the use of IRAC through repetition and practice.

ADP also administers two intensive skills courses designed to help students improve their performance: Legal Analysis and Legal Methods. For first year students, enrollment in Legal Analysis in the spring semester is determined by students’ academic performance during the fall semester. For second year students, enrollment in Legal Methods is determined by students’ academic performance during their first year. Students who wish to opt-in to either course may do so upon obtaining approval from Student Affairs, Law School.

  1. Bar Services Department
    Starting in their final year of law school, all students are encouraged to work with Bar Services. Bar Services administers two courses in the final year of law school. Practical Legal Writing (PLW) and Early Bar Preparation (EBP) are designed to prepare students with the framework and skills necessary to be successful on the Bar Exam.

    During the bar exam study period, Bar Services staff are available to help transition students from law school study to the bar exam.

Clinics and Externships

The School of Law offers students opportunities to participate in a variety of clinical experiences. Students who are interested in enrolling in a clinic or externship should review the Course Descriptions  this inhandbook and the Clinical Legal Education Program Student Handbook. Students may be paid for credit-bearing externships provided they meet certain requirements. Students interested in earning both pay and credit for the same externship should review the Pilot Program Allowing Paid Credit-bearing Externships and apply at least one month before the start of the summer session.

Students may not take more than 13 units in externship and other clinical courses. Generally, these units are earned over the course of multiple semesters. Students may be required to seek the Director of Externships’ approval before enrolling in more than 4 units per semester. Courses that count toward the 13-unit limitation include all clinics and externships, regardless of whether they appear on the list below. Occasionally, the School of Law partners with other organizations or universities to provide additional, clinical opportunities.

In rare circumstances and with consent of the Associate Dean or Director for Law Student Support, a student may be approved for more than 13 units. A student may not enroll in more than one of these courses per term, unless permission is granted by the Associate Dean or Director for Law Student Support. Permission will depend in part on whether the student can verify that there is no conflict of interest between the student’s two clinical placements. In no case may a student enroll in more than one of these courses per term when one of the courses is for a judicial externship.

  1. On-Site Clinics
    Environmental Law & Justice Clinic
    Pro Bono Tax Clinic
    Women’s Employment Rights Clinic
    Veterans Legal Advocacy Center

  2. Externships
    Civil Field Placement 
    Consumer Rights 
    Criminal Litigation 
    Family Law 
    Homeless Advocacy 
    Judicial Externship**

*Students must receive approval from the Director of Externship Programs to enroll in this clinic.

**To be eligible for a judicial externship, students must have completed Evidence and meet other GPA requirements. With the approval of the Director of Externships, students may enroll in a judicial externship with Evidence as a co-requisite.

Students who have completed 28 units of law school and are in good academic standing are eligible to enroll in any of the externship courses except as noted above. Students on Academic Probation are not eligible to apply to any clinic without permission from the Associate Dean or Director for Student Affairs, Law School.

Honors Lawyering Program (HLP)

The Honors Lawyering Program is a rigorous academic and practice-focused program. In HLP, students attend a regular first-year curriculum, with the exception of one elective course in the spring, and then participate in an intensive skills-focused summer session featuring actual client representation. Following the completion of the HLP summer curriculum, students spend the fall of their second year working in full-time apprenticeships in a wide variety of settings, including law firms, corporations, judicial chambers, public interest organizations, government agencies, public defenders’ offices, and district attorneys’ offices. During their last year, students complete a second apprenticeship. More information is available in the “Honors Lawyering Program” section of this handbook.

Joint Degree Programs

Joint degree programs allow students to reduce the number of units necessary to earn both a JD and a graduate degree in another specialty area. They particularly are beneficial to students who have undergraduate degrees and/or previous work experience in a given field and who want to pursue careers that combine that experience and training with legal work. Students enrolled in joint degree programs are able to fulfill 12 units of electives needed for their JD degrees from specified courses completed toward earning the other degree.

The JD/MBA program is offered in collaboration with Golden Gate University’s Ageno School of Business. Students may apply to participate in this program after the completion of two semesters of law school, for full-time students, and after three terms for part-time students. Students’ LSAT scores will be accepted in lieu of the GMAT and writing proficiency requirement in order to gain admission to the MBA program.

Interested students should submit an Application for Joint JD/MBA Program to Student Affairs, Law School for approval. Students pay the same tuition for business courses as other MBA students. Students in the JD/MBA program must complete all requirements for both degrees before either degree will be conferred. JD students wishing to withdraw from the joint degree program must submit a Petition for Change of JD Academic Program form.

Certificates of Specialization

The School of Law offers certificates in the following areas of specialization:

  • Business Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Family Law
  • Intellectual Property Law Litigation
  • Public Interest Law

A list of specific courses and requirements for the certificates can be found online on the Specialization Certificates webpage. The JD Specialization Certificate Application is available online on the Registrar’s Office forms webpage.

Students must submit an application for a specialization certificate to the Registrar’s Office during their last semester: by May 1 for May graduation candidates, July 1 for July graduation candidates, and by December 1 for December graduation candidates. Specialization certificates are mailed shortly after the student’s degree is conferred. Any specialization certificates earned will be noted on graduates’ transcripts.

Summer Trial & Evidence Program (1st STEP)

1st S.T.E.P. - Summer Trial Evidence Program: (11 units)
Train as a litigator the summer after your first year of law school.

1st STEP is an nine-week, comprehensive summer program immersing students in the study of trial advocacy, presentation, motions drafting, and evidence.  This innovative litigation program is designed to teach mastery of evidentiary rules and their effective application when solving practical trial problems.  The program utilizes case study exercises, motions argument, and hands-on trial practice. Each component of the course enhances student learning by sharpening basic skills until they become second nature.  1st STEP features rigorous skills training tailored to hone students’ courtroom technique and provide an early advantage in today’s competitive job market.  Following 1st STEP, students are prepared to spend the fall of their second year working in law firms, government internships, legal clinics, and other litigation settings.

Week 1: Immersion Trial Training Week

Students are immersed in an intense, full-time week of trial advocacy training.  This demanding hands-on training course introduces all key aspects of conducting a full trial.  Students expand and perfect their litigation competencies as they are guided through lectures, demonstrations, and skills workshops. 

Instructors include GGU faculty, judges, mock trial coaches, and seasoned practitioners who lecture, demonstrate, and provide individual critique.  A unique aspect of 1st STEP includes assessment and feedback by a performance coach during weekly workshop sessions.  The extensive coverage of witness examination, motions practice, use of exhibits, case analysis, opening statements, closing arguments, impeachment, and over-all trial strategy boosts student skill and confidence in the courtroom.  At the conclusion of the first week, every student conducts a full-length trial, and enters the second half of the program with increasing effectiveness.

Week 2-8: Evidence, Trial Advocacy, Motions Practice and Evidence in the Courtroom

With a stronger foundation and understanding of the components of trial, students launch into the next seven weeks, focused on fine tuning skills and discovering new strategies and nuances in the courtroom.  Students concentrate on mastering advanced evidentiary principles and rules, using their new knowledge to handle more and more difficult trial problems.

Week two through eight continues with lectures and workshops, and adds in highly specialized guest speakers sharing tips and tricks on various litigation topics.  Students also visit State and District Court hearing calendars.  Trial lawyers inevitably claim that they truly only learn evidence once they understand how it is utilized throughout trial preparation, watching and doing cements this understanding.  Our 1st STEP students complete the course with their second full trial.  They graduate 1st STEP with the necessary skills to comfortably draft and argue motions, enter evidence into the record, and conduct witness examinations while integrating the Rules of Evidence seamlessly into practice. 

Our honors litigation skills programs and innovative teaching techniques also prepare our students for success at local and national mock trial and moot court competitions.  Participating students experience the opportunity to compete on a regional and national stage, providing them with first-hand experience arguing cutting edge cases and championing the latest legal and procedural issues. 

Our litigation students enjoy access to performance coaching and mentoring from world-class litigators, promoting their development into effective and persuasive legal advocates.  Our Litigation Center programs are effective and empowering, designed to transform students into persuasive litigators.

Admission-  1st STEP Application Process

Entering Students

Students may apply to 1st STEP as part of the regular JD application process by checking the Summer Honors Litigation Program box on their admissions application, and submitting a letter of intent to the director of the litigation program.If you have been pre-admitted to 1st STEP, please understand that you must maintain the required law school GPA during your first and second semesters. These rules are in the Student Handbook. 

Students with a qualifying GPA and perceived interest in litigation may be pre-selected for 1st STEP upon admission to GGU. Part of the pre-admission process and to know your interest and enthusiasm for advocacy training, please submit a resume and statement of interest to the Litigation Center, attn: Your statement should address whether advocacy, litigation, or trial practice factored into your decision to attend law school.  Describe an experience in which you welcomed critique and feedback, incorporated the feedback, and turned the process into a positive result.  Understanding that advocacy, litigation, and trial training are available throughout your career at GGU Law, why is it important to you to gain this training in your first summer? How do you plan to use 1st STEP training during your 2L and 3L years of law school?

Spring Admission & Application Deadline (January of 1L year)

All students may apply for rolling admission into the summer program in January after receiving their grades from the fall semester.Full-time 1L students are eligible to apply for admission into 1st STEP during the summer after their first year of law school. 1L students and transfer students may apply for rolling admission by January 30th, after receiving fall semester grades.Evening students may apply in January of their 2L year to participate in 1st STEP during their second summer term.

First-year students may also apply to join 1st STEP at the beginning of the spring semester. Details regarding the application process will be posted throughout the semester on the Litigation Center Website, and in Law School News. Students interested in applying are encouraged to meet with the Baxter Fellow in Litigation to inquire about the course and application process. The Committee evaluates each applicant’s fall semester grades, applications, references, and letter of intent. The number of post-fall admittees to the program will depend upon the number of students already enrolled and the quality of applications. All eligible students are encouraged to apply.

Part-Time Students Application Deadline (January of 2L year)

Part-time students are eligible for enrollment in 1st STEP during the summer after their 2L year.

Admission Criteria

Criteria considered for admission to the program include demonstrated success in law school, interest in and enthusiasm for a career in litigation, participation in GGU litigation activities, desire for advanced advocacy training, and the ability to perform successfully in a professional setting.1st STEP is limited to 24 students each summer. Admission to this innovative 11-week summer program is selective, but all eligible students are encouraged to apply.All students must maintain the required GPA to participate in 1st STEP.


Students who decide to withdraw from 1st STEP must meet with the Baxter Fellow and complete a Petition for Change of JD Academic Program form which requires the signatures of the STEP Director and either the Associate Dean or Director of Student Affairs, Law School.

Registration and Requried Courses 

First-year STEP students must sign and submit a summer program commitment form. The registrar will assign each student to STEP. Students must register for all of their section’s STEP courses and may not register for any other courses during the summer term. STEP students are subject to the same rules as non-HLP JD students, including those regarding tuition, tuition credit, refunds, and withdrawals.

While it may become necessary to adjust the specifics of the 1st STEP curriculum for pedagogical or administrative reasons, the following curriculum represents the basic structure of the Summer Honors Litigation Program:

Summer Semester - The 1st STEP students take (11 units) during their first summer,

  1. Immersion Week
  2. LAW 804T Trial Evidence and Advocacy (5 units) 
  3. LAW 804M Effective Brief Writing & Motion Advocacy (2 units) 
  4. LAW 804 Evidence (4 units) 

The summer session usually begins in late May and ends in late July. Classes generally are held Monday through Friday between 10:00 am and 8:30 pm. Final class schedules will be published as soon as they are determined. Because of the intense course schedule, STEP students are well advised not to make any plans which would interfere with daily attendance. STEP students are prohibited from being employed during the summer curriculum.


All STEP courses must be taken for a letter grade.

Certificate Programs

STEP students may earn the litigation certificate of specialization offered at GGU. See the “Special Programs” section of this Handbook. Students should contact the certificate advisor and the Dean or Director for Student Affairs for assistance in planning their academic schedules.

Financial Aid

The Financial Aid Office works closely with STEP students. STEP students pay the same tuition and are entitled to the same scholarship opportunities as non-STEP JD students. STEP staff and faculty do not have access to a student’s financial aid records. For any questions regarding financial aid, please contact the Financial Aid Office.


STEP students receive a notation in the School of Law commencement program indicating that they are graduates of the Summer Honors Litigation Program. Each year, the STEP Committee selects an Outstanding Student from among the graduating STEP students, with the award acknowledged in the School of Law commencement program.