Educational Goals & Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes (ABA Standard 302)

Graduates of Notre Dame Law School will possess the following knowledge, skills, and professional values at a level sufficient to commence the practice of law:

  1. Knowledge.  Graduates will know and understand substantive and procedural law.
  2. Skills.  Graduates will be able to:
    1. discern a client’s objectives,
    2. ascertain relevant facts,
    3. conduct legal research,
    4. analyze and apply relevant legal principles,
    5. create and execute appropriate solutions to legal problems, and
    6. communicate legal concepts clearly and effectively, both orally and in writing.
  3. Professional Formation.  Graduates will be able to integrate professional values and exercise ethically responsible judgment in their legal practice and their work within the legal system.

(Adopted April 27, 2016)

Educational Goals

On May 1, 2013, the faculty approved the following statement of Formation Goals and Competencies, which, taken together, describe the purpose of a Notre Dame Law School education. 


Professional Qualities: To prepare our students to practice law with professional excellence and commitment to fairness, justice, compassion, and the highest ethical standards.
Careers: To develop in our students the knowledge and competencies that will enable them to discern among and to succeed in a range of careers.
Service: To prepare our students to serve the community, especially the underprivileged, with dedication to human dignity and the common good.
Leadership: To prepare our students for leadership in the bar, the bench, the academy, and the public and private sectors.
Faith: To encourage our students to consider the Catholic intellectual tradition and the role of faith in leading integrated and fulfilling personal and professional lives.
Global Awareness and Diversity: To prepare our students to live, learn, and work in a diverse, multicultural and globalized environment.
Interdisciplinarity: To foster in our students an appreciation of the interactions between the law and other disciplines and professions.


The following list includes both “core” and “valuable” competencies. Core competencies are those we believe are important for all our graduates, regardless of the fields of law or kinds of practice in which they may engage. Valuable competencies are important in many fields of law, but are not essential in all kinds of practice. Some of the competencies are accompanied by bullets listing illustrative sub-competencies which students “may” develop.

We strive to ensure that all Notre Dame Law students have the opportunity to take courses that will assist them to develop core competencies. We also offer a broad array of courses relating to valuable competencies. However, given limited resources, not all courses related to all competencies are offered every year, and others may be available through cross registration in other departments of the University. Moreover, some competencies may be developed mainly through co-curricular and non- curricular programs, including law journals, moot court programs, mock trial programs, competitions, panel discussions, presentations, religious programs, mentoring, and discussion in courses on doctrinal subjects.

The following list further classifies competencies according to two kinds: first, competencies relating to knowledge of the law and the legal profession, and, second, competencies relating to professional skills.


Core Competencies: An understanding of:

  • Core substantive and procedural areas of law
  • Principal sources of law (e.g., administrative law, common law, constitutional law, international law, natural law, statutory law)
  • Major schools of interpretation and jurisprudence
  • Methods of dispute resolution
  • Moral and ethical responsibilities of lawyers to clients, the profession, and the community
  • Structure of the legal profession and its role in society

Valuable Competencies: An understanding of:

  • Comparative law
  • History of law
  • Basic knowledge of other disciplines relevant to the law (e.g., political science, statistics)
  • In-depth knowledge of particular legal area(s)

Core Competencies:

  • Legal analysis (“thinking like a lawyer”), such as the ability to:
    • anticipate and identify legal problems
    • identify relevant and decisive facts
    • recognize and articulate relevant legal principles, rules, and exceptions, and apply them to the facts in light of underlying policies
    • anticipate and assess countervailing arguments
    • analyze issues with rigor, logic, and appropriate precision
  • Legal communication, such as the ability to:
    • speak clearly, concisely, and persuasively on legal matters
    • write clearly, concisely, and persuasively on legal matters
    • communicate in forms and styles appropriate for a range of decision-making bodies and audiences
  • Legal and personal ethics, such as the ability to:
    • recognize and resolve legal and other ethical issues
    • appreciate how moral principles, faith, and values can be integrated with a lawyer’s professional responsibilities
  • Legal research skills, such as the ability to:
    • locate appropriate legal authority
    • understand the relevant weight of authority
    • distinguish primary and secondary legal authority
    • verify the current accuracy of authority
  • Factual research, such as the ability to:
    • interview (e.g., clients, witnesses, and victims)
    • gather facts by formal and informal means
  • Client relationships, such as the ability to:
    • listen
    • understand the client’s perspective and goals
    • develop a relationship of trust
    • provide effective counseling on alternative courses of action
  • Problem solving, such as the ability to:
    • identify a problem
    • analyze uncertain or complex facts
    • recognize legal and non-legal issues
    • foresee risks and contingencies
    • appreciate the importance of professional judgment
    • identify and recommend appropriate strategies and courses of action
  • Representational skills, such as the ability to:
    • collaborate or otherwise work effectively with co-counsel and with third parties, including opposing counsel, tribunals, and other professionals
    • negotiate
    • draft agreements
  • Cross cultural skills, such as the ability to interact with clients, lawyers, and others from various cultures and socioeconomic groups
  • Globalization skills, such as the ability to practice cross-jurisdictionally and internationally
  • Work/Life balance, such as the ability to:
    • achieve a healthy balance between personal and professional life
    • manage work stress

Valuable Competencies:

  • Litigation skills, such as the ability to:
    • advocate in pretrial, trial, and appellate settings
    • draft various types of litigation documents
  • Transactional skills, such as the ability to:
    • structure a legal transaction effectively
    • draft various types of transactional documents
  • Alternative dispute resolution skills
  • Basic financial, accounting, and economic literacy
  • Information technology skills relating to the practice of law
  • Leadership skills
  • Non-legal analysis relevant to the law (e.g., empirical, interdisciplinary, and comparative)
  • Practice management skills
  • Project management skills