Practice Areas

This Practice Area section outlines primary practice areas that are commonly recognized by bar associations and other professional organizations. By exploring these areas, students can better understand how the legal profession informally organizes itself and can do some “window shopping” to identify areas of interest. Faculty and practitioners have listed foundational and enrichment courses for each practice area, and relevant clinics and field placement opportunities have also been listed. Students who want to build a concentration in one or more practice areas can use these curriculum guides to chart their path.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to methods used to help disagreeing parties reach an agreement. Courts are increasingly requiring some parties to utilize ADR of some type, most often mediation, before permitting the parties’ cases to be heard. There are generally four categories of ADR:

  • Negotiation is a discussion between two or more people solving disagreements, deciding what to do, or making a bargain. Negotiation may involve advocates or representatives.
  • Mediation is a method for discussing problems and exploring solutions with the help of a trained “neutral” (someone capable of providing an unbiased opinion who acts as a facilitator). Mediators help people communicate clearly and negotiate effectively. Mediators do not take sides, give legal advice, make decisions about resolutions or impose solutions. Mediation is private and voluntary. Research shows that mediation frequently results in agreements that are voluntarily followed because they are created by the people directly involved.
  • Arbitration is a formal proceeding that uses one or more neutrals to listen to evidence and render a decision. The decision may be binding or non-binding.
  • Collaborative law is a voluntary, contractually based alternative dispute resolution process whereby parties are represented by lawyers (“collaborative lawyers”) during negotiations. Collaborative lawyers do not represent the party in court, but only for the purpose of negotiating agreements. The parties agree in advance that their lawyers are disqualified from further representing parties by appearing before a tribunal if the collaborative law process ends without complete agreement.

Benefits of ADR over litigation include:

  • Suitability for multi-party disputes
  • Flexibility of procedure - the process is determined and controlled by the parties
  • Lower costs
  • Less complexity (“less is more”)
  • Parties choice of neutral third party (and therefore expertise in area of dispute) to direct negotiations/adjudicate
  • Likelihood and speed of settlements
  • Practical solutions tailored to parties’ interests and needs (not rights and wants, as they may perceive them)
  • Durability of agreements
  • Confidentiality
  • Preservation of relationships and reputations

Because of these advantages over litigation, ADR is increasingly used alongside (or integrated formally) into legal systems internationally.

ADR has many practice settings:

Government. Many federal, state and local governmental agencies have laws or ordinances mandating or encouraging the use of mediation. Many also hire mediators into salaried positions. 

Ombudspeople. Many college campuses, hospitals and large corporations hire ombudspeople to handle conflict that arises within their organization. These positions are essentially mediators who are employed by the company to settle disputes.

Business. Corporations often see the value added by having a mediator assist in situations such as mergers and acquisitions, management and culture change programs, retention programs, and facilitating management and board level meetings.

Law firms. Law firms are increasingly setting up ADR departments and looking for an attorney to lead them in their pursuit of being ADR leaders in their local community. Litigators are also increasingly hiring “settlement counsel” to assist with mediation advocacy in larger cases, advising trial counsel and clients on settlement strategy throughout the course of a mediation.

Courts. Many courts are now hiring ADR attorneys, both as staff mediators and as ADR administrators.

Although many states recommend qualifications, no state has requirements for the practice of alternative dispute resolution. Rather, states have chosen to create lists of neutrals meeting criteria for certain areas of practice.

For information on becoming a registered neutral in Georgia, visit the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution’s website at https://georgiacourts.gov/godr/.

Skills:

  • Active listening
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Ability to isolate issues
  • Problem-solving

Faculty

  • Michael Broyde

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Negotiations

Enrichment

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Survey
  • Advanced International Negotiations (Seminar)
  • Doing Deals: Negotiations Team
  • International Commercial Arbitration
  • Landlord-Tenant Mediation Practicum I & II
  • Mediation Advocacy
  • Remedies

Banking lawyers provide legal services to the financial services industry, representing often separate interests of lenders, participants, agents, and borrowers in financial transactions. The work can be highly complex, and it can include multistate or international interests. Lawyers must abide by stringent regulatory requirements of the diverse institutions doing business in this sector.

Services include:

  • Financing
  • Refinancing
  • Leveraged (debt-based) acquisitions
  • Recapitalization financings
  • Tender offer financings (offers for the purchase of company stock to acquire control)
  • Workouts restructuring troubled financings
  • Planning bankruptcy buyouts
  • Assisting either the debtor or lender with troubled acquisitions of financial transactions
  • Securitizations offers of packages of mortgages or other debt obligations in a private or public securities offering 

Lawyers spend much of their time communicating by phone and email, negotiating, counseling clients, and helping clients structure transactions. The work is highly collaborative, with limited time spans for most transactions and cases. Banking & Financial Institutions attorneys have multiple practice options and can be found in:

  • Law firms of all sizes
  • Government agencies (federal, state, and local)
  • In house at banks, financial institutions, and other large corporations

All transactional lawyers must understand their clients’ businesses to be effective. This is particularly critical for attorneys who specialize in banking and commercial finance law. Understanding the statutes and regulations applicable to banking and how to apply them to a given situation is necessary. However, a lawyer who can accomplish those tasks, but who cannot apply that knowledge in the context of the bank’s business, is of limited use to the client. Students should concentrate on classes involving economics, finance, and accounting. They should take courses with business-related content, such as secured transactions, commercial transactions, bankruptcy, debtor/creditor rights, real estate, corporations, securities, negotiations, and the Uniform Commercial Code.

Training should also include:

  • Summer associate or semester clerkship positions in firms that have a corporate law department with banks or financial institutions as their clients
  • Clinical work, which will help develop skills in working with clients
  • Engagement in leadership activities
  • Knowledge of developments in banking and finance (reading The Wall Street Journal and The Economist)

Skills

  • Knowledge of the business of banking
  • Negotiation skills
  • Ability to work with details
  • Legal drafting skills
  • Relationship-building skills
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Good business sense

Faculty

  • Tom Arthur
  • Jim Elliott
  • Rafael Pardo

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Administrative Law
  • Banking Law
  • Business Associations
  • Contracts
  • Corporate Finance
  • Doing Deals: Accounting in Action
  • Legislation & Regulation
  • Property

Enrichment

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Analytical Methods of Lawyers
  • Doing Deals: Deal Skills
  • Doing Deals: Commercial Lending Transactions
  • Doing Deals: Private Equity
  • Doing Deals: Venture Capital
  • Federal Courts
  • Financial Compliance
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Negotiations
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Securities Regulation
  • Secured Transactions
Debtor and creditor law governs debtors in financial difficulty. Bankruptcy is the last resort for individuals or organizations who cannot meet their monetary obligations. Debtor and Creditor law is governed by state law. The U. S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 8) granted Congress the power to establish a uniform bankruptcy law throughout the United States. That law is set forth in the complex federal statutes of the U. S. Bankruptcy Code (Title 11), and cases are processed through the U. S. Bankruptcy Court, part of the federal court system. Cases are appealed to the U. S. District Courts and U.S. Courts of Appeals. Most of the work in this field is now in the federal courts under federal law.

Bankruptcy lawyers representing debtors guide their clients through the statutory framework that provides relief from the financial obligations owed to their lenders. Bankruptcy lawyers representing creditors attempt to protect their clients' interests by securing the maximum recovery possible from a debtor, whether an individual or a business. The bankruptcy process flows through negotiations between debtors and creditors, the reorganization of debts under Chapters 11 and 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, and the liquidation of debts and assets under Chapter 7, with resolution possible at each stage. In some cases, state debtor and creditor law can also play a central role.

Bankruptcy lawyers can work in private law firms, in financial institutions or corporations, or with the government.

In the private sector, there are large or mid-sized firms with bankruptcy departments or small bankruptcy "boutiques" with all members specializing in bankruptcy. These lawyers represent individual and corporate debtors, creditors, creditors' committees, and bankruptcy trustees. The government agencies include the Internal Revenue Service, Securities and Exchange Commission, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and state and municipal tax authorities. There is also a thriving practice in state debtor and creditor law, focusing on pre-bankruptcy law or other cases outside the federal system.

Bankruptcy attorneys engage in a wide range of daily activities, blending transactional work and litigation. The flow of work varies from periods filled with court hearings to time spent in business meetings, negotiations, and general office work.

 

All transactional lawyers must understand their client's businesses to be effective. This is particularly critical for attorneys who specialize in banking and commercial finance law. Understanding the statutes and regulations applicable to banking and how to apply them to a given situation is necessary. However, a lawyer who can accomplish those tasks, but who cannot apply that knowledge in the context of the bank's business, is of limited use to the client. Students should concentrate on classes involving economics, finance, and accounting. They should take courses with business-related content, such as secured transactions, commercial transactions, bankruptcy, debtor/creditor rights, real estate, corporations, securities, negotiations, and the Uniform Commercial Code.

Training should also include:

  • Summer associate or semester clerkship positions in firms that have a corporate law department with banks or financial institutions as their clients
  • Clinical work, which will help develop skills in working with clients
  • Engagement in leadership activities
  • Knowledge of developments in banking and finance (reading the Wall Street Journal and The Economist)

Skills

  • Knowledge of the business of banking
  • Negotiation skills
  • Ability to work with details
  • Legal drafting skills
  • Relationship-building skills
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Good business sense

Faculty

  • Michael Broyde
  • Rafael Pardo

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Bankruptcy
  • Business Associations
  • Contracts
  • Property

Enrichment

  • Corporate Finance
  • Doing Deals: Accounting in Action
  • Doing Deals: Commercial Lending Transactions
  • Doing Deals: Complex Restructurings and Distressed Acquisitions in Chapter 11
  • Doing Deals: Venture Capital
  • Federal Courts
  • Secured Transactions

The work of specialists in child, family and elder law is as diverse as the populations they serve. The evolving cultural and social landscape of the family demands greater versatility and skills than ever before. While many specialize in family law, focusing on divorce and custody, others specialize in child law, representing families, children and the state in proceedings in which the state is a party.

Most child, family and elder law attorneys work in small firms or on their own. The field appeals to lawyers who are entrepreneurial and want to work independently. Some large firms have family law departments to handle high-stakes divorce cases, trusts and estates matters, and premarital agreements for their clients. The government employs child law attorneys in child protection and juvenile justice cases. Courts can appoint private attorneys to work on guardianship and parental rights cases as well. Attorneys divide their time among client counseling, court appearances, and legal work related to their caseload (drafting contracts, pleadings and briefs, taking depositions, preparing expert witnesses and handling phone calls).  

Child, family and elder law attorneys may enter private practice (either with a firm or in solo practice), work for the government, or work with a public interest group. 

Matters include:

  • Divorces, which include division of property, child support, spousal support, custody and visitation, post-decree modification and enforcement
  • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
  • Guardianships for minors, the elderly, the infirm, and the mentally disabled who cannot care for themselves
  • Domestic and foreign adoptions and surrogacy
  • Establishment or termination of parental rights
  • Preparing wills
  • Representing minors in the delinquency and education systems
  • Representing parties involved in domestic violence or neglect cases
  • Family and child law classes
  • Accounting and tax law classes
  • Moot court
  • Trial practice
  • Classes in psychology and human development
  • Clinical experience
  • Practical experience working as a law clerk for a family law lawyer
  • Practical experience working as an extern in family court
  • Development of relationships with the community of family lawyers

Skills

  • Ability to empathize with the problems of others
  • Ability to remain objective
  • Interviewing and counseling skills
  • Patience
  • Negotiation skills
  • Writing skills
  • Ability to think on his or her feet

Faculty

  • Michael Broyde
  • Melissa Carter
  • Deborah Dinner
  • Martha Grace Duncan
  • Martha Fineman
  • Kay Levine
  • Randee Waldman
  • John Witte
  • Barbara Woodhouse

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Child Welfare Law & Policy
  • Family Law I
  • Kids in Conflict with the Law

Enrichment

  • Administrative Law
  • Advanced Civil Trial Practice
  • Barton Appeal for Youth Clinic
  • Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic
  • Child Protection & International Human Rights
  • Children’s Rights (Seminar)
  • Civil Trial Practice: Family Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Education Law
  • Estate Planning
  • Family Law II
  • Fundamentals of Income Tax
  • Health Law
  • Juvenile Defender Clinic
  • Trusts & Estates
  • Veterans Benefits
  • Volunteer Clinic for Veterans

As advocates for their client, civil litigation attorneys (litigators) develop the best legal theories possible, gather the facts to support those theories, and achieve the best result at trial or in a favorable settlement without a trial. Over 90% of cases are settled before the trial begins.

Litigators can be generalists who work in diverse areas of the law or specialists in particular practice areas (such as Tax, Patent, Antitrust, Labor and Employment, or Torts). Their work is multifaceted and involves:

  • Drafting - Preparation, official filing, and service of a complaint (the statement of the plaintiff’s claims and request for relief)
  • Investigation and Discovery - Written discovery (drafting and responding to interrogatories and preparing and responding to written discovery requests); oral discovery (placing witnesses under oath and obtaining their testimony by deposition)
  • Motions practice - Drafting documents and arguing pretrial matters before the court to resolve certain issues or narrow the issues for trial
  • Trials - Litigators must be familiar with Federal Rules of Evidence, state and local rules regarding evidence and testimony, and judges' rules concerning behavior in their courtrooms
  • Appeals - Contingent upon developing a complete record during the trial phase

Most litigators work in law firms (all sizes), though some are employed by boutique firms specializing in a particular type of litigation (e.g., employment, patent, or business litigation). Some government attorneys work as civil litigators for federal government offices such as the U. S. Attorneys’ offices, the civil division of a county prosecutor’s office, or a municipality. Litigators representing business entities may provide advice on corporate law, lead representation in actions filed by stockholders, or in cases where the business is named as a defendant in a civil case.

Corporate litigation is a diverse practice area, so there is no typical workday. Taking depositions, making oral arguments, and preparing for trial can all happen at the same time for different cases. Some litigators specialize in one facet of civil law, such as the discovery process. Less experienced lawyers handle legal research and brief writing, gaining critical expertise before advancing to other phases of litigation. 

  • Wide range of undergraduate liberal arts classes
  • Civil Procedure and Evidence classes
  • Classes related to the substantive areas of litigation in which you are interested
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution courses
  • Accounting classes (monetary damages are a hotly contested issue)
  • Writing classes
  • Participation in a journal or a writing competition
  • Trial advocacy classes
  • Moot Court or Mock Trial
  • Participation in clinical programs
  • Summer associate positions at law firms specializing in litigation or firms with a litigation department
  • Judicial internships or clerkships
  • Development of contacts within the litigation field
  • Inn of Court participation
Skills
  • Writing skills
  • Oral advocacy skills
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Detail-oriented

Faculty

  • Tom Arthur
  • Morgan Cloud
  • Rich Freer
  • Timothy Holbrook
  • Jonathan Nash
  • David Partlett
  • Robert Schapiro
  • Julie Seaman
  • George Shepherd
  • Fred Smith
  • Tim Terrell
  • Frank Vandall

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Business Associations
  • Civil Procedure
  • Complex Litigation
  • Evidence
  • Torts
  • Trial Techniques

Enrichment

  • Administrative Law
  • Advanced Civil Trial Practice
  • Advanced Legal Writing
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Business Associations
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Litigation
  • Courtroom Persuasion & Drama
  • Cross-Examination Techniques
  • E-discovery & Litigation Technology
  • Employment Discrimination
  • Employment Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Expert Witness Examination
  • Family Law
  • Federal Courts
  • Federal Prosecution
  • Immigration Law
  • Intellectual Property Litigation
  • Negotiations
  • Products Liability
  • Trial Practice Workshop

Civil rights are the fundamental rights guaranteed to every U. S. citizen regardless of race, religion, sex, age, or disability. They derive from the Bill of Rights and the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the U. S. Constitution as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and specific state and federal laws. Attorneys who are drawn to the practice of civil rights law have a passion for defending the Constitution and ensuring their clients’ rights are protected.

Settings may include:

  • Mid-sized to large firms with a department specializing in civil rights
  • Small “boutique” firms whose attorneys work in civil rights issues
  • Solo practice
  • Government agencies engaged in civil rights litigation
  • Nonprofit organizations whose focus is one or more areas of civil rights
  • In-house counsel for corporations and organizations
  • Nonprofit organizations that represent clients on a pro bono basis
  • Constitutional law classes
  • Moot court
  • Speech and writing classes
  • Law clerk or summer associate positions for firms that focus on civil rights law
  • Wide range of law classes to prepare to assist a diverse group of clients
  • Courses that focus on the areas relevant to your interests
  • Public interest and/or civil rights law internships
  • Clinical programs
  • Membership and active participation public interest and civil rights organizations
  • Volunteer work in community service organizations
  • Networking

Skills

  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Strong organizational and time management skills
  • Sincere interest in civil rights law and a commitment to becoming an outstanding litigator

Faculty

  • Kathleen Cleaver
  • Mary Dudziak
  • Martha Fineman
  • Kay Levine
  • Polly Price
  • Fred Smith

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Constitutional Law
  • Constitutional Litigation
  • Torts
  • Trial Techniques

Enrichment

  • Access to Justice Practicum
  • Advanced Civil Trial Practice
  • Advanced Legal Writing
  • Child Welfare Law & Policy
  • Children’s Rights (Seminar)
  • Critical Race (Seminar)
  • Equality (Seminar)
  • Family Law
  • Federal Courts
  • First Amendment
  • Human Rights
  • Human Rights Advocacy
  • Immigration Law
  • International Human Rights
  • Sentencing Practice

Broadly speaking, communications/media law encompasses all aspects of legal practice relating to broadcast media (radio, television, and cable), print media, and internet and electronic communications. Some lawyers who practice communications and media law work for federal agencies that regulate the telecommunications industry (primarily the FCC). Other lawyers work in private practice advising clients on issues such as contracts, mergers and acquisitions, advertising, privacy, copyright, and regulatory compliance. They may also be involved in litigation involving these and other issues. Media lawyers may work with a diverse range of clients, from international multimedia corporations to one-station radio broadcasters, single-system cable operators, and rural telephone cooperatives. Clients also include program producers, computer manufacturers, computer service providers, and entrepreneurs.

While there are opportunities to practice communications/media law in the Atlanta area and throughout the country, many lawyers practice in the Washington, DC area due to the important role the federal government plays in the regulation of telecommunications. Media law practitioners work in a variety of settings, including large and mid-sized law firms with telecommunications departments, smaller “boutique” firms in which all attorneys specialize in communications and media law, federal and state regulatory agencies, and in-house legal departments of communications and media companies. 

There are several foundational courses that students interested in this area should take, including:

  • Constitutional law
  • First Amendment
  • Intellectual Property
  • Copyright
  • Trademark

Additional training opportunities include:

  • Externships with relevant Atlanta-area organizations
  • Summer associate positions or semester internships with law firms practicing media/communications law
  • Involvement in the Communications/Media Law Society
  • Membership in the local bar association and relevant subsection(s) and/or the Federal Communications Bar Association
  • Participation in a journal or other writing competition(s)

Skills

  • Strong writing skills
  • Interest in regulatory work
  • Ability to quickly analyze and interpret statutes
  • Understanding of business principles
  • Negotiation skills

Faculty

  • Timothy Holbrook
  • David Partlett
  • Julie Seaman

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Copyright Law
  • First Amendment
  • Intellectual Property
  • Legislation & Regulation
  • Torts
  • Trademark Law

Enrichment

  • Advanced Legal Writing
  • Administrative Law
  • Business Associations
  • Entertainment Law
  • First Amendment (Seminar)
  • Internet Law
  • Media Law
  • Privacy Law

Corporate lawyers advise businesses on their legal rights, responsibilities, and obligations. General corporate practice covers a wide range of legal issues. Corporate lawyers working in law firms counsel clients on corporate governance and operations issues, such as rights and responsibilities of corporate directors and officers. Corporate lawyers also handle business transactions including negotiations, and they draft and review contracts and other agreements such as mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, licensing and divestitures. Corporate lawyers employed directly by corporations as in-house counsel act as internal advisors in business and legal issues, including labor and employment, intellectual property, contracts, and liability.

There are different areas of specialization for corporate lawyers:

  • Publicly held companies provide advice for public companies that are held to strict standards regarding disclosure of information, including financing transactions involving both loans and stock issues
  • Privately held businesses provide advice for closely held companies with multiple legal needs
  • Business start-ups and joint ventures work closely with investment bankers and venture capitalists
  • Mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures assist clients with appropriate financing for mergers and acquisitions, advise on contracts, and participate in “due diligence” checks concerning the company to be acquired in the transaction
  • Joint ventures and licensing advise clients, often in collaboration with other specialists such as intellectual property attorneys, and negotiate deal terms of long-term commercial relationships
  • In-house corporate counsel advise companies on a wide range of legal and business issues (large corporations often have full departments of in-house lawyers who generally work in law firms or for the government for several years before joining in-house corporate legal departments)

Most corporate lawyers work in law firms, often in large or mid-size firms with corporate law departments. Some attorneys specialize in specific issues, including mergers and acquisitions or venture capital work. A limited number of corporate lawyers work for the government in securities work, most often for agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission.

  • Undergraduate or graduate business classes
  • Business-related law school classes
  • Classes that help develop strong writing skills
  • Participation in law review or law journal
  • Participation in writing competitions
  • Experience as a Summer Associate at a law firm with a corporate practice or as an intern for a corporation with a corporate law department or a government office that handles corporate law issues
  • Involvement in bar association activities
  • Development of an understanding of contract drafting issues and skills
  • Knowledge of the latest developments in business (from reading The Wall Street Journal, trade publications, Business Week, and Internet coverage of latest business trends)

Skills

  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Listening skills
  • Writing skills - first in legal writing and second in business writing
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Comfort in working in a team setting and with non-lawyers
  • Creativity

Faculty

  • Tom Arthur
  • Rich Freer
  • Rafael Pardo
  • Sue Payne
  • Teemu Ruskola
  • George Shepherd
  • Alexander Volokh
  • Liza Vertinsky

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

* Any student seeking a Transactional Law Certificate should review those requirements separately.*

Foundational

  • Business Associations
  • Contracts
  • Corporate Finance
  • Doing Deals: Accounting in Action
  • Doing Deals: Contract Drafting
  • Doing Deals: Deal Skills
  • Federal Income Taxation: Corporations OR Federal Income Taxation: Partnerships
  • Franchise Law
  • Fundamentals of Income Tax
  • Securities Regulation 

Enrichment

  • Analytical Methods of Lawyers
  • Antitrust Law
  • Bankruptcy Law
  • Doing Deals: Commercial Real Estate Transactions Workshop
  • Doing Deals: Commercial Lending Transactions
  • Doing Deals: Complex Restructurings and Distressed Acquisitions in Chapter 11
  • Doing Deals: Corporate Practice
  • Doing Deals: General Counsel
  • Doing Deals: Mergers & Acquisitions Workshop
  • Doing Deals: Negotiating Corporate Transactions
  • Doing Deals: Private Equity
  • Doing Deals: Venture Capital
  • Employment Law
  • Financial Compliance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Law and Economics
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Secured Transactions
  • Securities Enforcement
  • White Collar Crimes

Working as a criminal lawyer is a life in motion, moving from crisis to crisis, from negotiation to investigation, and sometimes from courtroom to courtroom. To keep pace, criminal lawyers command a substantial set of skills beyond being good trial lawyers. Criminal lawyers must be good negotiators, investigators, time managers, counselors, and even social workers. They often deal with all the stressful aspects of a defendant's or victim's life, not just the crime itself. Both public defenders and prosecutors process numerous cases with limited budgets and through an overburdened criminal justice system. Their passion is justice, engaging in high-stakes negotiations that determine the fate of the defendant. In most U.S. jurisdictions, well over 90% of all criminal matters are resolved through plea bargains without trial.

Prosecutors work for the state or federal government and enforce federal and state statutes as well as city ordinances that define the criminal code. They are given tremendous discretion in determining how to proceed against a particular defendant. Criminal defense lawyers represent individuals charged with crimes. Since the Constitution provides that anyone accused of a crime, irrespective of wealth, has the right to an attorney, states, municipalities, and the federal government maintain public defenders’ offices. Other defense attorneys maintain private practices, some in small firms or on their own and some in association with mid-size and large firms. Private defense attorneys often gain experience in criminal litigation by working first as public defenders or prosecutors. 

To pursue a career in criminal law, students should take criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence classes (for students interested in a white collar/financial crimes practice, business-related courses are a necessary addition). Students should also seek out and excel in trial advocacy classes, as well as participate in mock trial or moot court. Lastly, students should take an upper level writing course to hone their written advocacy skills.

However, to what criminal practice is really like, coursework alone is not enough; students should seek out opportunities for field placements or summer internships in county district attorney’s offices, US Attorneys’ offices, or state or federal public defender’s offices. Students should also consider the Juvenile Defender Clinic to get hands-on experience in a clinical setting. Lastly, working as a judicial intern or law clerk will provide exposure to the courtroom component of criminal practice. 

Skills

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to multitask
  • Active listening
  • Ability to read and analyze vast quantities of information
  • Ability to make a decision and stick with it
  • Sophisticated negotiation skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Ability to build relationships
  • Time management skills
  • Empathy for others –whether victims or criminal defendants
  • Counseling and social work skills
  • Common sense and good judgment
  • Street smarts
  • Sincere commitment to their work
  • Good sense of humor
  • Knowledge of relevant law
  • Superior command of evidence laws
  • Willingness to not back down from a fight

Faculty

  • Morgan Cloud
  • Martha Grace Duncan
  • Kay Levine

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure: Adjudication
  • Constitutional Criminal Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Trial Techniques

Enrichment

  • Advanced Criminal Trial Advocacy
  • Capital Defender Workshop
  • Courtroom Persuasion & Drama
  • Criminal Law Defense
  • Criminal Litigation
  • Criminal Pretrial Motions
  • Cross-Examination Techniques
  • Immigration Law
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Humanitarian Law Clinic
  • Kids in Conflict with the Law
  • Law & the Unconscious Mind
  • Mental Health Issues in the Criminal Justice System
  • Sentencing Practice
  • White Collar Crime*
  • White Collar Crime Workshop

*For students interested in white collar criminal law, the following additional courses might be considered for enrichment:

  • Business Associations
  • Corporate Finance
  • Doing Deals: Accounting in Action
  • Federal Income Taxation: Corporations
  • Fundamentals of Income Tax
  • Securities Regulation 

Environmental laws seek to protect human health and welfare, the environment, and also nonhuman forms of life. Much of environmental law involves governmental regulation of pollution, but this pervasive body of regulation is now often of critical importance to corporate transactions and land use. Starting in the early 1970s, the federal government enacted numerous environmental laws, with many subsequent amendments since that time. Implementation of those laws involves the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and several other federal agencies, resulting in thousands of pages of regulation and regular litigation before agencies and courts. State and local governments play roles under those federal laws and also have their own bodies of environmental laws.

Environmental lawyers work with and against governments, advise and negotiate for clients in fields as diverse as real estate, manufacturing, construction, banking, and healthcare, and work with public interest and charitable organizations in enforcing and amending these laws. Environmental lawyers need to develop facility with this dense body of law, with administrative law concepts and statutory interpretation, and with complex regulatory advocacy and litigation. For all types of environmental lawyers, strong negotiation and transactional skills are often essential.

Whether negotiating permits, allocating environmental liabilities, or seeking to settle litigation over missed regulatory deadlines, environmental law students and practitioners need a broad legal toolset.

Environmental lawyers work in many different settings. Many are employed by federal, state and local governments, in both legislative and executive agencies, as well as in leadership roles in the executive branches of all levels of government. Government lawyers are centrally involved in the creation, implementation and enforcement of the law. Environmental lawyers within law firms and in-house corporate departments can represent corporations and industries subject to environmental regulations, but also often are involved in battles between corporations over environmental liabilities and obligations. Private sector lawyers do substantial work in influencing how environmental laws are drafted, implemented and enforced. Compliance counseling is a common function. Private firms also represent individuals injured by pollution or exposure to toxic substances. Environmental law issues are a frequent element in land use development and real estate transactions. Many environmental lawyers work for public interest and advocacy organizations. Public interest environmental lawyers sometimes enforce laws and regulations directly, but also devote substantial resources to influencing government action and using the courts to compel governments to take actions required but delayed.

Regardless of their sector of work, environmental lawyers thus need to divide their time among legal analysis, advocacy for legislatures, agencies, courts and private counterparts in transactions, with the usual mix of meetings, telephone conferences, and legal drafting. In all settings, well-honed advocacy skills are essential. Public interest attorneys may also have fundraising responsibilities. Environmental lawyers tend to share interest in and passion for environmental policy and environmental protection, regardless of their role and client.

Many environmental lawyers enter the field out of a long-term interest in environmental issues, while others may correctly see it as a complex body of law that is of pervasive importance to all areas of legal practice, especially in transactional settings. Training for this practice area may include:

  • Private sector environmental counseling, perhaps through an externship
  • Judicial internships/externships
  • Clinical and/or externship experience with a law firm or organization that does environmental work
  • Work for a governmental office or agency dealing with environmental issues
  • Work with industrial associations or regulatory think-tanks seeking to influence environmental policy
  • Work on land use transactions and planning, with their frequent environmental overlay
  • Volunteer work related to environmental issues
  • Work with student groups dedicated to environmental issues
  • Membership and participation in environmental law sections of national, state, and local bar associations
  • Involvement with national environmental organizations such as the National Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, as well as regional, state and local groups such as the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, and GreenLaw.

Skills

  • Creative problem-solving skills
  • Legislative drafting and interpretation
  • Administrative law facility
  • Writing skills
  • Interest in and understanding of science
  • Willingness to learn new things
  • Negotiation skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Ability to communicate with and relate to different sectors of society and government

Faculty

  • Mindy Goldstein
  • Jonathan Nash

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information. 

Foundational

  • Administrative Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Legislation & Regulation
  • Torts
  • Property

Enrichment

  • Advanced Legal Writing
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • Complex Litigation
  • Energy Law
  • Environmental Advocacy Workshop
  • Federal Courts
  • International Environmental Law (Seminar)
  • Land Use
  • National Resources
  • Turner Environmental Law Clinic

The health care industry is highly regulated, and health care providers and organizations must carefully monitor legislation affecting their operations. Health care lawyers work on a myriad of issues ranging from Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse, to HMO and other insurance regulation, to health care reform and bioethical issues surrounding assisted reproduction and end of life decision-making. Health care lawyers may also assist hospitals and health care organizations with litigation, such as the defense of medical malpractice cases, disputes related to the business of those organizations, breach of contract disputes, intellectual property cases, real estate issues, and labor disputes. Clients can also include physicians involved in professional groups that form corporations, partnerships, or joint ventures with hospitals.

Health care lawyers work for:

  • Law firms, often large or mid-sized firms with departments specializing in health care law, but also smaller boutique firms that focus solely on health care law
  • Hospitals
  • Medical corporations
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Companies that develop and manufacture medical equipment
  • Insurance companies
  • Social services and government agencies, including municipal health organizations and federal or state health and human services
  • Trade associations such as the American Hospital Association or the American Dental Association
  • Non-profit organizations and think tanks that focus on health care issues
  • Creative problem-solving skills
  • Legislative drafting and interpretation
  • Administrative law facility
  • Writing skills
  • Interest in and understanding of science
  • Willingness to learn new things
  • Negotiation skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Ability to communicate with and relate to different sectors of society and government

Skills

  • Writing skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Ability to think on your feet and act with good judgment
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Administrative skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Enjoying working in a team with non-lawyers
  • Comfort working in a field that is constantly changing

Faculty

  • Mary Anne Bobinski
  • Melissa Carter
  • Martha Fineman
  • Ani Satz
  • Liza Vertinsky

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Administrative Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Health Law
  • Law and Economics
  • Public Health Law
  • Legislation & Regulation
  • Torts

Enrichment

  • Business Associations
  • Food & Drug Law
  • Global Public Health Law
  • Health Law Ethics Workshop
  • Health Law Research
  • Mental Health Issues in the Criminal Justice System

Immigration (leaving one country to live in another) and naturalization (becoming a citizen) are subject to the authority of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). On March 1, 2003, DHS absorbed the Immigration and Naturalization Service and assumed its duties. In doing so, it divided the enforcement and services functions into two separate and new agencies: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Citizenship and Immigration Services. Additionally, the border enforcement functions of the INS, the U.S. Customs Service, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service were consolidated into a new agency under DHS: U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Along with the Department of State, DHS administers and enforces immigration and naturalization laws, processes visas and applications for naturalization, investigates fraud related to immigration and naturalization, arrests those who violate immigration laws, and enforces deportation when appropriate. Noncitizens ("aliens") involved in criminal activity have their cases heard in federal district court.

The Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) adjudicates immigration cases by fairly, expeditiously, and uniformly interpreting and administering the Nation's immigration laws. Under delegated authority from the Attorney General, EOIR conducts immigration court proceedings, appellate reviews, and administrative hearings. 

Attorneys who practice business immigration generally have corporate clients. Public interest attorneys specializing in immigration provide services to noncitizens who cannot afford private attorneys. Much of their workday is spent counseling clients, often by phone. Other tasks include writing petitions, applications, and motions, client intake interviews, and assessments.

Immigration lawyers work in several different practice settings:

  • Private law firms assisting domestic and international corporations in transferring noncitizen employees from foreign offices to the United States and hiring noncitizens as employees for U. S. corporate offices
  • Mid-size or large firms with business immigration departments
  • Smaller law firms assisting individuals with personal or family immigration issues
  • Public interest law practices specializing in immigration, including with indigent clients
  • Immigration clinics related to law schools or public interest organizations
  • U.S. Department of Justice or other government agencies in enforcement or administrative roles
  • Immigration law course
  • Administrative Law/Legislation and Regulation courses
  • Volunteer for a public interest organization
  • Participate in community organizations that do work related to immigration
  • Work for a government agency or law firm while in law school
  • Become part of the network of immigration lawyers
  • Conduct informational interviews with attorneys practicing in the immigration field
  • Focus on developing good advocacy and counseling skills

Skills

  • Reading and understanding statutes and regulations
  • Attention to detail
  • Calm and composed under pressure
  • Foreign language skills
  • Sensitivity to the complex emotional issues involved in immigration cases
  • Ability to build strong relationships
  • Strong writing and communication skills

Faculty

  • Polly Price

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Civil Procedure
  • Criminal Law
  • Evidence
  • Immigration Law
  • International Law
  • Legislation & Regulation
  • Trial Techniques

Enrichment

  • Administrative Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Critical Race (Seminar)
  • Federal Courts
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Human Rights Law

The U.S. Constitution empowers Congress to create laws to promote science and the useful arts (Article II, Section VIII). Intellectual property (IP) law protects inventions and various forms of artistic and scientific expressions. Congress has also used its power to regulate commerce to protect the use of symbols that demonstrate the origin of goods and services. The range of protectable intellectual property is remarkably broad, from an artist's rights in a commissioned work by a municipality to a corporation's rights in its name, logo, and colors. As technology has become more important in the global economy, the practice of intellectual property law has broadened even further, covering several areas of substantive law:

  • Patents - prosecute patent applications before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as well as foreign countries' patent offices; litigate to defend patent rights belonging to individual inventors or corporate entities and to protect an inventor's interest in a technical development; and license the invention to parties able to commercialize it
  • Copyrights - counsel creators of works in the entertainment, publishing, and fine arts industries, including playwrights, authors, artists, and composers; negotiate contracts; and represent clients in lawsuits enforcing their rights
  • Trademarks - work with clients on choosing a mark, clearing it for use, and registering it with the USPTO, state registries, and potential foreign countries; monitor the marketplace for unauthorized use of the trademark; litigate against potential infringement of the mark; and defend clients accused of infringement
  • Unfair competition - monitor activities in the market to ensure they comport with legal norms established by federal and state law
  • Trade secrets - advise clients wishing to keep trade secrets confidential; litigate on behalf of clients when trade secrets have been improperly acquired; and license the transfer of trade secrets
  • Computer law - negotiate software licenses and hardware purchase agreements
  • International law - obtain and enforce patents and licenses abroad; follow developments at various international organizations, such as the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization, for their impact on U.S. clients; track enforcement levels and opportunities in various countries, particularly emerging markets such as China and Brazil
  • Corporate law - manage mergers and acquisitions involving high technology companies; assess value of intellectual property assets and potential tax consequences from these assets

 

Attorneys specializing in patent, trademark, and copyright law often work in large general practice law firms with intellectual property departments or in small to medium-sized boutique firms specializing in intellectual property law. Intellectual property attorneys also work as in-house legal counsel in corporations or for the federal government in the USPTO or various federal agencies that seek patent protection.

Intellectual property attorneys spend a considerable amount of time counseling clients, taking and defending depositions, and drafting correspondence, pleadings, briefs, patent applications, opinion letters, and discovery. Patent and copyright issues are generally litigated in federal court, so attorneys may travel to depositions, hearings, or trials out of state or even abroad. Trademark disputes can take place in state or federal courts and can involve complex issues of product markets and consumer perceptions.

A technical background leads some law students to careers in IP law. Other students are inspired by the broad range of projects and the opportunity to work closely with clients. Importantly, only the prosecution of patent applications before the USPTO requires a technical or scientific degree. This practice requires that individuals pass the Patent Bar in addition to the state bar exam. All other aspects of IP practice are open to lawyers without technical backgrounds. While some firms, particularly patent boutiques, may use technical background as a screen for hiring, general practice firms routinely involve non-technically trained lawyers in their practice, particularly for transactional work. Copyright, trademark, and other forms of IP law do not require any sort of technical background.

  • Law review or journal
  • Experience writing for other journals or entering writing competitions sponsored by law school or bar associations
  • Judicial clerkships - clerking at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles appeals concerning patent cases, the U.S. District Courts, which hear large numbers of IP cases, and the Court of Federal Claims, from which the Federal Circuit hears appeals
  • Judicial externship programs
  • IP classes, particularly in the core disciplines of patent, trademark, and copyright
  • Practical experience in the field of intellectual property by working as a summer associate, law clerk, or field placement intern with organizations such as the Center for Disease Control, Coca-Cola, or other Atlanta-based corporations
  • Knowledge about the field and development of important contacts by joining a student organization or bar association section related to intellectual property issues (e.g., American Intellectual Property Law Association, IP sections of the American Bar Association, IP sections of the Georgia and Atlanta Bar Associations)

Skills

  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Technical writing skills to translate scientific information into “basic” English
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Interest in a broad spectrum of technology
  • Understanding of business and economics
  • Understanding of international issues
  • Awareness of social and consumer issues
  • Willingness to engage in and understand technology

Faculty

  • Margo Bagley
  • Timothy Holbrook
  • Nicole Morris
  • Liza Vertinsky

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Business Associations
  • Copyright
  • Intellectual Property
  • Patent Law
  • Trademark Law

Enrichment

  • Administrative Law
  • Antitrust
  • Doing Deals (IP-related courses)
  • Federal Courts
  • International Intellectual Property
  • International Patent Law (Seminar)
  • Internet Law
  • Patent Litigation
  • Trade Secrets

Good lawyers are leaders in whatever they do, whether in business, politics, public service or government, at home or abroad. Good leaders of the 21st century cannot afford to be parochial in their attitudes or provincial in their skills and competence. Good leading lawyers of the future need to think globally when acting locally and think locally when acting globally. Therefore, good lawyers need strong grounding in international and comparative law. Public international law is the legal framework for daily business, trade, and communication everywhere. It helps lawyers understand the workings of state protection and responsibility, jurisdiction and arbitration, and the law of the sea. Every specialized topic of legal or business practice that deals with someone or something across an international border, whether Canada, China or The Philippines, requires knowledge of international law, and often comparative law as well.

The international expansion of U. S. law firms has been driven by clients who want seamless representation throughout the world as their financial transactions and acquisition activities are no longer restricted to a single country or continent. U. S.-based attorneys who once dealt only with domestic laws regarding taxes, securities, labor, intellectual property, and other issues now must understand the equivalent laws in other countries. As a result of the increase in international corporate mergers and acquisitions and the reliance of businesses on international capital markets for financial needs, attorneys now must work closely with colleagues in other countries to provide their clients with the necessary advice to complete projects and transactions.

International lawyers work in a range of practices, generally representing corporate clients with counseling, communications via telephone and email, developing strategies, advice on U. S. laws and regulations, administrative hearings, and court.

  • Law firms with departments specializing in international trade or international finance (usually in large cities)
  • Corporations with international interests
  • Accounting and consulting firms
  • Financial institutions
  • Government agencies such as the Department of Commerce or the International Trade Commission
  • Business-related law school courses
  • Classes in international law
  • Writing courses
  • Moot court and appellate advocacy classes
  • Undergraduate or graduate business courses
  • Foreign language skills
  • Summer associate positions at firms with international law departments or summer internships with corporations or government offices working on international issues
  • Communication with international lawyers
  • Professional associations
  • Clinical offerings
  • Relevant field placements

Skills

  • Writing skills both business writing and legal writing
  • Creative problem-solving skills
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Interest in and ability to work with people from other cultures
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills
  • High level of commitment to the practice

Faculty

  • Abduh An-Na’im
  • Laurie Blank
  • Mary Dudziak
  • Teemu Ruskola
  • Johan van der Vyver
  • Barbara Woodhouse

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Conflicts of Law
  • International Law

Enrichment

  • Advanced International Negotiations (Seminar)
  • Chinese Law
  • Comparative Law
  • European Union Law I & II
  • Implementation of International Law (Seminar)
  • International Commercial Arbitration
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Environmental Law (Seminar)
  • International Legal Research
  • International Patent Law (Seminar)
  • International Tax

Traditional labor law deals with the relations between workers and their employers. Attorneys play an important role in labor relations by providing assistance to both labor and management. They counsel their clients regarding unfair labor practice charges under the National Labor Relations Act and collective bargaining negotiations. Attorneys also advise management and labor unions regarding union organization, representation elections, and related campaigns.

Employment law, including employment discrimination law, includes prosecution and defense of clients' interests in cases involving the violation of individual employee claims, most frequently under a variety of state and federal statutes. Employment law, especially on the employer or management side, often involves not only handling trial and appellate matters, but also planning, training, counseling, and negotiating to prevent claims from arising and leading to court actions.

Labor and employment attorneys represent clients in state and federal courts as well as in appeals. They may also represent employers and employees before federal and state administrative agencies.

Attorneys typically specialize in either defense or plaintiff work, representing either corporations or individual employees in actions against their employers. They confer with clients, draft legal documents, communicate by telephone and email, negotiate contracts, and represent clients in court.

  • Large and mid-size law firms with departments devoted to labor and employment law
  • Small and mid-size law firms with specialized boutique practices in labor and employment issues
  • Solo practitioners or very small law firms
  • Corporate and nonprofit organization in-house counsel
  • Labor Unions
  • State and federal government agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, state civil rights commissions, and others
  • Advocacy organizations dealing with the rights of minorities, women, the elderly, and the disabled
  • Labor and employment classes
  • Trial advocacy classes
  • Moot court
  • Undergraduate courses in speech and communications
  • Law review, law journals, or outside writing competitions
  • Practical experience by working or volunteering in the field
  • Practical experience by working as a judicial law clerk or judicial extern
  • Development of contacts in labor and employment law through bar association activities
  • Participation in student groups related to labor and employment law
  • Knowledge of  latest issues and cases (reading the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, etc.)
  • Demonstration of your commitment to the labor and employment field

Skills

  • Legal writing skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Comfort in working with difficult people
  • Oral advocacy skills
  • Tenacity

Faculty

  • Deborah Dinner

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Civil Procedure
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Employment Discrimination Law
  • Employment Law
  • Evidence
  • Legislation & Regulation
  • Labor Law
  • Trial Techniques

Enrichment

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Civil Trial Practice
  • Complex Litigation
  • Employment Discrimination Lab
  • Federal Courts
  • Immigration Law
  • Negotiations
  • Pretrial Litigation

National security is a term covering both national defense and U.S. foreign relations. It refers to the protection of a nation from attack or other danger by holding adequate armed forces and guarding state secrets. The term national security encompasses economic security, monetary security, energy security, environmental security, military security, political security, and security of energy and natural resources. Specifically, national security means a circumstance that exists as a result of a military or defense advantage over any foreign nation or group of nations, a friendly foreign relations position, or a defense position capable of successfully protesting hostile or destructive action.

In 2010, President Barack Obama included an all-encompassing world-view in his definition of America's national security interests as:

  • The security of the United States, its citizens, and U.S. allies and partners;
  • A strong, innovative, and growing U.S. economy in an open international economic system that promotes opportunity and prosperity;
  • Respect for universal values at home and around the world; and
  • An international order advanced by U.S. leadership that promotes peace, security, and opportunity through stronger cooperation to meet global challenges.

What does all of this mean for a law student or young lawyer seeking a career in national security? There is a wide array of possible opportunities, which include positions with government agencies or private sector firms, or the less apparent career paths such as employment with non-governmental organizations and national security publications, and those national security law careers yet to be defined.

Military lawyers work simultaneously as military officers and as practicing attorneys. Each branch of the U. S. armed forces has its own Judge Advocate General's Corps or Department, where attorneys (called judge advocates) work under the command of a Judge Advocate General. JAG attorneys work in both the civil and military court systems, and their clients are the government and members of the armed forces and their families. Upon accepting a commission to join the JAG Corps, officers are obligated to serve for a period of three years or more, depending on the branch of service.

A commonly held perception that national security happens in Washington, D.C. is accurate to some extent. Many of the relevant government agencies are in D.C., along with prominent think tanks and research institutes, non-governmental organizations, and some private law and consulting firms. Washington, D.C. is the center of policymaking. It is the logical location for those interested in national security, and the vast opportunities attract young people from around the country interested in various aspects of national security, homeland security, and homeland defense.  Types of employers include: 

  • Federal Government:The U.S. government provides diverse opportunities for a career in national security law. These include Congressional positions as well as positions with agencies like the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, and the Intelligence Community(IC). Other governmental agencies such as the Department of State, the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, and the Law Library of Congress also offer national security careers for young lawyers. Geography and the issue of security clearance are important considerations for many government agency positions. 
  • Judicial Clerkships: Some clerkship positions may not offer clearly defined or directly related “national security” legal experience; others will. Some national security lawyers suggest any legal experience in this arena is valuable legal experience. Other organizations offer related opportunities, including the Federal Judicial Center and the United States Sentencing Commission. 
  • Intelligence Community: The U.S. Intelligence Community is a coalition of 17 agencies and organizations within the executive branch that work both independently and collaboratively to gather the intelligence necessary to conduct foreign relations and national security activities. These organizations collect and convey essential information to the President and members of the policymaking, law enforcement, and military communities. For a list of the agencies see http://www.intelligence.gov/.

For students interested in military law, JAG Corps attorneys work at military facilities in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. New JAG officers have broad responsibilities shortly after finishing the training program, and they have the opportunity to practice in at least two areas of law during their first three- or four-year tour:

  • Criminal law – acting as prosecutors in military trials by courts-martial
  • Claims and tort litigation – representing the government when sued by a plaintiff claiming personal injury or property damage
  • Legal assistance – providing legal advice on a wide range of matters to service members, their families, and military retirees
  • Environmental law - providing advice to military officials on environmental law issues and representing the military before government regulatory agencies
  • Civil law issues – advising military officials on a host of issues such as ethics, conflicts of interest, constitutional rights, and the Freedom of Information Act
  • Labor law – representing the military in employment discrimination lawsuits and civil service labor disputes
  • Operational law – providing legal advice to military leaders on lawfulness of targets, proper treatment of prisoners of war, and legal assistance to service members deployed to the area of conflict
  • Contract law – providing counsel on contracts related to the multibillion-dollar development of new emerging technology and procurement of high-tech weapons systems

 

To prepare for a national security and military law career while in law school, the following are suggested:

  • Wide range of law classes
  • Trial advocacy classes
  • Moot Court or Mock Trial
  • Clinical programs
  • Public speaking experience
  • Clerkships with judges hearing national security cases (e.g., FISA judges)
  • Summer clerkships or semester internships with law firms specializing in national security law
  • Meeting and networking with JAG attorneys
  • Learning all you can about the military

Note: Upon becoming officers, JAG Corps attorneys attend a training program that covers courtroom skills, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, litigation, negotiation, research, and client counseling skills.

Skills

  • Strong writing skills
  • Persuasive speaking skills
  • Advocacy skills
  • Being a team player
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Resourcefulness
  • Commitment to your role as a military officer

Faculty

  • Laurie Blank
  • Robert Schapiro

 Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law
  • Evidence
  • Federal Courts
  • National Security Law

Enrichment

  • Advanced International Negotiations (Seminar)
  • Constitutional Litigation
  • Jurisprudence
  • Immigration Law
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Humanitarian Law
  • International Law
  • Law, Sustainability, and Development
  • National Security Law Research
  • Transitional Justice
  • Veterans Benefits
  • Volunteer Clinic for Veterans

Public interest lawyers have a passion for using their legal skills in the spirit of public service. Some lawyers devote all their time to a particular cause or agenda, some serve individuals and causes that are not generally served by the for-profit bar, and some do both. Some organizations have a primary goal of providing legal services to a particular population. As such, these organizations may involve a practice similar to a law firm practice with plenty of direct client contact and representation; however, perhaps unlike a law firm, they may also involve advocacy for the benefit of that population. Other organizations select specific cases or projects that will advance their cause, which may or may not involve direct client representation. Both types of organizations are often involved in advocating policy and legislative reform to a much greater extent than is typical in a for-profit practice.

Under the overarching umbrella of “public interest,” lawyers in this field typically specialize in one or more substantive areas or types of practice that particularly motivate them, including (but not limited to):

  • Legal services to the poor or other disadvantaged groups
  • Civil rights
  • Children’s rights
  • Women’s rights
  • Prisoners’ rights
  • Disability and mental health issues
  • Health law and access to health care issues
  • Environmental protection
  • Education issues
  • LGBT issues
  • Elder rights
  • Homelessness and poverty
  • International human rights
  • Reform of the political process (e.g., Common Cause)
  • Native American rights
  • Immigration
  • Capital punishment

Lawyers generally enter a public interest practice because they want to use their legal skills to have a concrete, positive effect on an issue or population that they care about, beyond just the effect on their direct client. Thus, when public interest organizations hire, they look for a demonstrated commitment to working for the benefit of the public, especially in the organization's area of specialty. This may be interpreted broadly to include non-legal jobs, regular volunteer work, and other experiences that show an interest in serving the public good. However, because public interest organizations do not hire "classes" like law firms do, they also rely particularly heavily on positive recommendations from within their own organization or from other public interest organizations with which they are familiar. Thus, field placements, summer internships, and general networking with the public interest bar are also important.

Public interest lawyers work in a wide variety of employment settings, including:

  • Government agencies (federal, state and local)
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Private law firms
  • Coursework related to the specific areas of interest (or across multiple areas if unsure of specific interests)
  • Internships and field placements with organizations that do work in specific areas of interest (or across multiple areas if unsure of specific interests)
  • Judicial clerkships at the state and federal court levels or summer judicial internships
  • Volunteer work (both legal and non-legal)

Skills

  • Commitment to public service
  • Writing skills
  • Advocacy skills
  • Interest in current events
  • Interpersonal skills

Faculty

  • Melissa Carter
  • Martha Fineman
  • Mindy Goldstein
  • Kay Levine
  • Ani Satz
  • Robert Schapiro
  • Sarah Shalf
  • Randee Waldman

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Administrative Law
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution OR Negotiations
  • Constitutional Law
  • Legislation & Regulation
As explained in the “Profile” section, Public Interest lawyers typically specialize in a particular practice area within the law. To the extent you are considering a career as a public interest lawyer in a field that overlaps with another practice area, it is recommended that you consult the course offerings for that area. You might also consider a wider range of potentially relevant enrichment courses, including the following: 

Enrichment

  • Advanced Civil Trial Practice
  • Advanced Legal Writing
  • Antitrust Law
  • Bankruptcy Law
  • Child Welfare Law & Policy
  • Constitutional Criminal Procedure
  • Constitutional Litigation
  • Criminal Procedure: Adjudication
  • Education Law
  • Employment Discrimination Law
  • Employment Law
  • Energy Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Family Law
  • Federal Courts
  • Federal Indian Law
  • First Amendment
  • Food and Drug Law
  • Global Public Health Law
  • Health Law
  • Human Rights Advocacy
  • Human Trafficking
  • Immigration Law
  • International Law
  • International Human Rights
  • International Humanitarian Law Clinic
  • Juvenile Law
  • Kids in Conflict with the Law
  • Labor Law
  • Land Use
  • Landlord-Tenant Mediation Practicum I & II
  • Mental Health Issues in the Criminal Justice System
  • Products Liability
  • Public Health Law
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Secured Transactions
  • Trusts & Estates
  • White Collar Crimes

Real estate law concerns every aspect of commercial, industrial, and residential transactions and investments, including purchase and sale of property, financing and development, construction contracts, securitized real estate investments, property management and leasing, environmental compliance, and litigation related to these areas. Attorneys with a focus in real estate may assist clients in navigating through a myriad of governmental zoning restrictions and land use regulations. They may be called upon to represent clients before state and county commissions, city councils, community organizations, or in state or federal courts.

The practice of real estate transactions can be one of the most satisfying and rewarding forms of the practice of law. The majority of American families make the largest purchase they will ever make when they purchase their first home. No city can be built – or rebuilt – without intricate and complex commercial and retail development. No utility can be formed and no industry brought on line without real estate.

From the routine closing of a single-family home purchase to the financing and development of major hotels and commercial space, real estate attorneys are key players in a broad range of transactions. They work in the largest private law firms in the country, and they work as sole practitioners. They may be specialists in the secondary mortgage markets with large financial institutions or experts in zoning and land use planning. They are found in the full range of public sector positions in local, state, and federal governments, as well as the full range of private sector corporations and partnerships.

Attorneys with a focus on real estate are essentially transactional attorneys. Though they are strong advocates for their clients, the practice of real estate law is not first and foremost adversarial in nature. Instead, the goal is to find a solution in which the client and the other parties share in a common endeavor. Real estate attorneys are the architects of a transaction.

Attorneys choose real estate law because they are interested in transactional work. The following are opportunities for training in the real estate field:

  • Classes in real estate
  • Classes in corporations, negotiations, legal drafting, environmental law, and secured transactions
  • Summer associate or law clerk positions in firms with active real estate practices
  • Legal clinics that involve direct client representation and honing of negotiation skills
  • Attending local zoning and planning board meetings
  • Becoming an active part of the community of real estate lawyers by becoming active in bar associations

Skills

  • Detail oriented
  • Strong negotiation skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Interpersonal communication skills

Faculty

  • Deborah Dinner
  • Jim Elliott
  • Jim Hughes
  • Jonathan Nash

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Contracts
  • Land Use
  • Property
  • Real Estate Finance

Enrichment

  • Banking Law
  • Bankruptcy Law
  • Doing Deals: Commercial Real Estate Transactions Workshop
  • Environmental Law
  • Federal Income Taxation: Corporations
  • Federal Income Taxation: Partnerships
  • Fundamentals of Income Tax

The field of entertainment and sports law covers a broad range of substantive areas that touch the professional (and sometimes personal) lives of entertainers, athletes, producers, writers, and other participants in the entertainment and sports industries. Legal work in this field often includes contracts, labor matters, corporate finance, intellectual property issues, and antitrust matters. Sports and entertainment lawyers are specialists because of their knowledge of their clients’ fields of endeavor and of how the relevant legal issues intersect with their clients’ interests. Attorneys negotiate performance contracts, which requiring a firm grasp of standard performance contract requirements, collective bargaining agreements or union requirements, estate planning, employee benefits, and tax law. Attorneys involved in the corporate finance, distribution, and marketing areas work with event planners, studios, filmmakers, producers, banks, and other financial organizations to put together complex financial deals to support the development of a project.

Attorneys who practice sports and entertainment law work in a wide range of environments

  • Private law firms, representing individual performers and athletes, athletic teams, filmmakers and producers, studios, opera companies, dance companies, bands, and symphonies
  • Large firms with entertainment and sports law departments
  • Smaller "boutique" firms specializing in sports and/or entertainment law
  • Athletic teams, music companies, film companies, and other organizations with in-house lawyers

Most attorneys practicing sports and entertainment law do not start out in that field, but rather transition into it after developing expertise in commercial or corporate law.

  • Core curriculum of business-oriented law classes
  • Development of contacts in the industry
  • Foreign language classes
  • Liberal arts undergraduate classes
  • Field Placements with Georgia Lawyers for the Arts, Atlanta Spirit, and other relevant employers
  • Deal Skills courses
  • Active networking with lawyers in the field
  • Active involvement in the Sports & Entertainment Law Society

Skills

  • Understanding of corporate and financial issues
  • Interest in and understanding of the entertainment and/or sports industry as a business
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Outstanding relationship-building skills
  • Strong negotiation skills
  • Flexible and creative problem-solving skills

Faculty

  • Timothy Holbrook

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Foundational

  • Contracts
  • Doing Deals: Contract Drafting
  • Entertainment Law
  • Fundamentals of Income Tax
  • Intellectual Property
  • Negotiations
  • Property

Enrichment

  • Antitrust Law
  • Business Associations
  • Copyright Law
  • Employment Law
  • Federal Income Taxation: Corporations
  • Federal Income Taxation: Partnerships
  • Labor Law
  • Privacy Law
  • Trademark Law
  • Trusts & Estates

The single most important tax in the United States is the federal income tax imposed on individuals, corporations, trusts, and estates, with a special set of rules for transactions that cross-national boundaries. Most states also impose an income tax, as do some municipalities. The federal government imposes a set of transfer taxes on the transmission of wealth at death and during life, and most states impose an inheritance tax on some recipients of devises and bequests. There are special labor laws and income tax rules applicable to retirement benefits of employees and the self-employed. Finally, the federal regulation of charitable organizations has been assigned to the Internal Revenue Service by Congress.

Discrete areas within the tax arena include:

  • Business planning for individuals and corporations
  • U.S. taxation of international transactions
  • Tax controversy work before the IRS and the federal courts
  • Employee benefits
  • Estate planning
  • Tax planning for charitable organizations
  • State and local taxation

Tax attorneys work in law firms, corporations, large accounting firms, and government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service. Large law firms may have departments specializing in tax issues, estate planning, and employee benefits. Small and mid-sized firms may have several attorneys that specialize in tax practice. Many tax lawyers do both transactional and litigation work, though litigation work is generally limited to lawyers working in law firms or for the IRS. Relatively little tax work outside of estate planning is done by very small firms.

Most tax attorneys work with corporate clients by structuring business transactions to minimize tax costs. Such tax lawyers work closely with business lawyers and accountants, and many tax lawyers have significant expertise in these areas. Employee benefits, estate planning, charitable organization work, and state and local taxation planning are generally done by specialists in these areas.

Law students considering taxation as a career should anticipate spending an additional year on their education, obtaining both a JD and an LLM in taxation. Students should complete an introductory tax course as part of their JD program as well as a sufficient number of advanced tax courses to ensure they will succeed in the full-time practice of tax law both in terms of ability and inclination. Students who do not have an accounting background should be certain to take an accounting class while in law school. Most tax lawyers are comfortable with spreadsheets and understand and can apply present value computations.

Skills

  • Creative problem-solving skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Legal and factual research skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Sincere interest in business and in clients' businesses
  • Ability to earn the confidence of fellow attorneys and clients

Faculty

  • Dorothy Brown
  • Jeffrey Pennell

Please note that courses are offered on a rotating basis, therefore, not all courses are available each semester/year. See the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Courses: Business Tax

Foundational

  • Doing Deals: Accounting in Action
  • Federal Income Taxation: Corporations
  • Federal Income Taxation: Partnerships
  • Fundamentals of Income Tax
  • International Tax
  • Legislation & Regulation

Enrichment

  • Bankruptcy Law
  • Business Associations
  • Corporate Finance
  • Real Estate Finance
  • White Collar Crimes

Courses: State & Local Tax

Foundational

  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Law
  • Federal Income Taxation: Corporations
  • Fundamentals of Income Tax
  • Legislation & Regulation

Enrichment

  • Business Associations
  • Doing Deals: Accounting in Action
  • Federal Income Taxation: Partnerships