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Legal Methods Lab




Admissions requirements

Completion of at least one of the 100-level courses in the International Justice Major.


When reading any contract, statute, treaty, or other legal document, it becomes evident that lawyers, judges, and legal scholars have a unique way of writing and making arguments marked by a particular style and framed by a range of specific conventions. With a view to familiarizing students with legal methods, this course focusses on legal research, reasoning, writing, presentation, and contestation. The course in divided in two parts, each of which serves as a laboratory for developing different sets of related skills. In the first part, students learn to locate, select, and properly cite legal sources in accordance with the most widely used styles. This will be done in an interactive way (“learning by doing”), including group exercises. In the second part, students will hone their skills in reading and analysing legal sources, and in using them to write and present compelling legal arguments in mini-moot court settings. Assignments will be carried out individually as well as in small groups, putting an equal emphasis on written work and oral presentation. The course uses materials from different legal traditions (common law and civil law), different levels of governance (national, European, and international), as well as the most common types of sources (constitutions, statutes, treaties, case law, and secondary literature).

Course objectives

After successful completion of the course, students are able to, in terms of skills:

  • Conduct legal research, including the location, selection, and classification of primary and secondary sources;

  • Properly cite and format legal sources, both secondary and primary;

  • Interpret, compare, and analyze legal sources;

  • Present, defend, and comment on legal arguments.

After successful completion of the course, students are able to, in terms of knowledge:

  • Define core legal concepts and terms;

  • Use legal sources and formulate well-written legal arguments supported by appropriate sources.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course operates as a “legal methods lab” and uses a range of modes of instruction, including (interactive) lecturing, methodological (group) exercises, feedback sessions, student presentations, and discussion.


  • General participation, ongoing (10%)

  • Take home assignment (in small groups), week 3 (15%)

  • Written test with closed/short questions (individual), week 4 (15%)

  • Case presentation (in small groups), weeks 5-7 (15%)

  • Mini-moot court (in small groups), weeks 5-7 (15%)

  • Case note (30%), including Outline (individual), week 6 and Full note (individual), week 8


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

General recommended readings:

  • Peter Butt, Modern Legal Drafting: A Guide to Using Clearer Language, 3rd edn (OUP, 2013)

  • J. Myron Jacobstein, Donald J. Dunn, Roy M. Mersky, Fundamentals of Legal Research, 7th edn (West Group Publishing, 1998)

  • Bryan Garner, The Elements of Legal Style, 2nd edn (OUP, 2002)

  • Jaap Hage and Bram Akkermans (eds), Introduction to Law (Springer, 2014)

  • James Holland and Julian Webb, Learning Legal Rules: A Students’ Guide to Legal Method and Reasoning, 9th edn (OUP, 2016)

  • Paul Rylance, Writing and Drafting in Legal Practice (OUP, 2012)

  • Lisa Webley, Legal Writing, 3rd edn (Routledge, 2013)


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Joris Larik


This course is particularly relevant for students who have International Justice as their major or minor, as well as those pursuing the double degree program in law. It is highly recommended that students take this course early on, as the skills they acquire here will be of use for any law or law-related course which they subsequently take.