Law 470 - American Law in a Global Context

Cynthia A. Merrill

Cynthia A. Merrill

Lecturer in Law
Coordinator of the LL.M. Legal Research and Writing Program
B.A. Colorado College
M.A. University of Washington
Ph.D. University of Washington
J.D. Yale Law School
Course Description:

This course is designed to prepare the foreign lawyer for American legal study.  It is required for any LL.M. student who has not previously earned a law degree in the U.S.  The course provides information on the workings of the U.S. legal system, discusses the common law method, and covers introductory constitutional principles.  Students will learn what to anticipate in the law school classroom, including how to brief a case and otherwise prepare for class.

Students will also receive instruction on library research skills needed in the practice of law.  Emphasis will be placed on appropriate and effective research strategies and evaluation of sources, both print and electronic.

Most of the class sessions are held prior to the start of the fall semester.  Sessions on analytic writing and exam preparation will be held in September.

Course Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify key differences between civil and common law legal traditions.
  • Identify major sources of United States law, including federal and state constitutions, statutes, and judicial decisions.
  • Describe the major features of federal and state court systems and the civil litigation process.
  • Identify, analyze, and brief the facts, procedural history, holdings, and reasoning in a court decision.
  • Locate primary and secondary legal authority.
  • Prepare effectively for exams and analytic writing.   
Course Information:
​Faculty Term Course Section ​Schedule ​Units Requisite Satisfies SAW
Cynthia Merrill 20F 470 LEC 1 Unscheduled 2.0 No No
  Limited to foreign LLM students. Enrollment processed through the Graduate Studies Office.