Civil litigation refers to disputes that are formally submitted to a court of law, in which one party claims to have been wronged, but there is no criminal activity alleged; this is very different from criminal law.
Introductory civil litigation courses are usually offered in the first year of a law school program. Some law schools offer a certificate in civil litigation that students can pursue while enrolled in a Juris Doctor (JD) program. These certificate programs often require foundation courses along with a clinic or practicum. Civil litigation courses are also offered in many paralegal undergraduate degree and certificate programs. Paralegal programs provide courses that cover the aspects of civil litigation that students need to know in order to draft legal documents.
Some common concepts covered in civil litigation courses include:
- Labor law
- Small claims
- Personal injury
- Real estate law
List of Common Courses
Civil Procedure Course
This introductory course examines the civil litigation process from start to finish. Students discuss the stages of litigation, including inception, pleadings, discovery, trial, judgment and appeal. Participants explore topics such as venue, jurisdiction and jury selection. This course also explores common problems in civil litigation as well as the use of alternative dispute resolution systems.
Constitutional Law Course
Participants examine and discuss the legal dynamics that are a result of the U.S. Constitution. This course looks at topics such as the Bill of Rights, the Fourteenth Amendment, federal civil rights, the separation of powers, due process, constitutional privileges and immunities.
The commitments individuals make to one another as part of free enterprise are covered in this course. Individuals examine the common law of contracts. Topics include the offer and acceptance of a contract, breach of contract, fraud and enforcement. Students look at laws covering the sale of goods, the use of contract language and the significance of third parties to contracts.
Property Law Course
This course explains the objectives, laws and institutions governing real property. Students explore how property rights are obtained and transferred, and the various requirements imposed on properties, such as covenants, easements and zoning. Other topics reviewed include housing laws, landlord-tenant issues and land use. The concepts of title and possession are examined. Also reviewed are the filing of deeds, contracts and mortgages resulting from the sale of land.
Torts cases involve liabilities and injuries to people or property in everyday life. This course presents an understanding of the theories and concepts behind these civil wrongs and the types of redress sought by tort claims. Topics examined include nuisance, product liability, invasion of privacy, defamation and other alleged wrongs. Individuals discuss the rights of plaintiffs to bring a lawsuit against a defendant. This course also looks at personal injury litigation.
Legal Ethics Course
The ethical responsibilities and practices of anyone working in the legal profession, including attorneys and paralegals, are discussed in this course. Students examine basic principles that guide ethical practice. Individuals learn to identify and resolve ethical dilemmas. Topics such as conflicts of interest, confidentiality, fee splitting, malpractice and the unauthorized practice of law are reviewed.