About the Burks Scholar Program
Washington and Lee University Law School is committed to educating its students to achieve the highest of professional standards. Our first year program of legal research and writing prepares students to meet the challenges and demands of professional standards with an emphasis on legal research skills, analysis of sophisticated legal problems, and clarity in objective and persuasive writing. Instruction in legal research, analysis, and writing provides students skills they will need as members of the practicing bar. Such skills include: reading a case; parsing a statute; evaluating material and immaterial facts; locating, evaluating, and using legal authorities relevant to legal problems; analyzing legal issues using facts and law; and communicating legal analysis in a clear, logical, and concise manner.
The Burks Scholar Program is an adjunct program in support of the legal writing program with two distinct purposes. The first purpose is to support the writing program and the second is instruction in legal research. Small sections and individual attention are a feature of both the writing and the legal research sections.
Each first-year law student is assigned to a small writing section class within one of the traditional substantive classes of Torts, Civil Procedure, Contracts, American Public Law Process, Property, Transnational Law, or Professional Responsibility. The small sections focus on writing and legal analysis skills as taught by a writing professor with a Burks Scholar as a teaching assistant. Instruction in legal research is by the Burks Scholars under supervision of a faculty member. The legal research program employs the flipped classroom concept. Students view online modules and are assigned readings in preparation for class. Class time involves hands on research assignments with the assistance and guidance of a Burks Scholar. In the fall and spring semesters, students attend regular classes conducted by the Burks Scholars and complete assignments designed to introduce students to research strategies and citation. Decisions, statutes, rules and regulations, and finding aids are introduced through lectures and a series of exercises. Students learn to analyze and synthesize a series of appellate opinions, interpret statutes and regulations, and research legal issues.
There are nine Burks Scholars for the 2014-2015 academic year. They are devoted to support of the writing professors, the writing program and instruction in legal research. Three of the Burks Scholars serve in the specialized role of the Burks Scholar Writing Fellow. This role is to provide assistance and support in the area of writing.