Logo

Learning Outcomes, Assessment Plans, and NYS Certifications

Introduction

The Law School's learning outcomes describe the foundational lawyering competencies that each student will develop by graduation. Every course in the Law School's curriculum is designed to achieve some, but not necessarily all, of the student learning outcomes below, with each course emphasizing different outcomes and each student pursuing different career goals.

Institutional Learning Outcomes

Albany Law School’s Institutional Learning Outcomes are designed to identify a range of student expectations upon completion of any of our academic programs (JD, LLM, MSLS, and Certificates). Please refer to each programmatic outcome for relevant, specific, and measurable learning outcomes.

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law.
  2. Demonstrate competence in use of professional legal skills.
  3. Demonstrate understanding of, and the ability to exercise, professional ethics and values.

Learning Outcomes for J.D. Graduates

  1. Demonstrate foundational knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law.
  2. Demonstrate ability to communicate effectively in the legal context, in writing and orally.
  3. Demonstrate basic legal research, legal analysis, legal reasoning and problem-solving skills.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to exercise proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and to the legal system.
  5. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the Lawyer’s professional responsibility to advance the mission of service to the underrepresented so that all individuals have equal access to the privileges of our justice system.
  6. Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to be competent and effective lawyers in a multicultural world.

​Learning Outcomes for International LL.M. Graduates

  1. Demonstrate a basic understanding of the US legal system.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the US law that is relevant to their field(s) of interest and/or foreign-based practices.
  3. Demonstrate ability to communicate effectively in English, generally, and about legal topics in particular, both orally and in writing.
  4. Demonstrate a familiarity with US case analysis, legal reasoning, the skills needed to conduct legal research and draft legal memoranda and other legal communications.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to exercise proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and to the legal system.
  6. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the lawyer’s professional responsibility in the United States to advance the mission of service to the underrepresented and to ensure all individuals have equal access to the privileges of our justice system.

Learning Outcomes for LL.M. Programs

  1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of the core doctrines of law that are relevant to their legal practice and career or relevant to their area of concentration.
  2. Demonstrate ability to communicate effectively in the legal context, in writing and orally.
  3. Demonstrate advanced legal research, legal analysis, legal reasoning, problem-solving skills, understanding of contemporary legal scholarship.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to exercise proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and to the legal system.

Learning Outcomes for Master’s Programs

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of fundamental substantive and procedural law as it relates to the student’s chosen area of concentration.
  2. Demonstrate ability to communicate effectively in writing and orally.
  3. Demonstrate basic research, analysis, reasoning and problem-solving skills.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to exercise proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and to the legal system.

Learning Outcomes for Advanced Certificate Programs

  1. Demonstrate a deep understanding of an area of law.
  2. Developed practical skills relevant to my area of study.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to interpret, synthesize, and apply legal information.
  4. Demonstrate writing capacity within the context of law.

Aspirational Goals for Our Graduates as Emerging Professionals

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of key concepts in private, public, and comparative law, and the processes through which law is developed and changed, and by which rights and duties are determined, adjudicated and enforced in a manner expected of a new lawye.r
  2. Communicate effectively, and with multicultural competence, in written and spoken form, across legal and non-legal settings, objectively and persuasively as the context requires.
  3. Demonstrate critical reading, thinking and reasoning skills in the context of statutory, regulatory, policy and case law analysis.
  4. Apply the skills of interviewing, counseling, negotiating, analyzing and investigating facts, and drafting of legal and non-legal documents in the manner expected of a competent new lawyer.
  5. Solve problems demonstrating leadership, teamwork, collaboration and time management skills within and across legal and non-legal disciplines.
  6. Perform ethically and competently in the supervised representation of clients, as an officer of the court, or as a legal adviser.
  7. Actively reflect upon - learning, transfer learning from one setting to another, and learn from experience.
  8. Exhibit a lifelong commitment to learning, self-evaluation and the pursuit of professional excellence.
  9. Embrace professional life that advances the mission of service to the underrepresented and recognizes the lawyer's responsibility to ensure all individuals have equal access to the privileges of our justice system.
  10. Demonstrate professionalism, professional judgment and a commitment to professional competence, including the ability to recognize and resolve ethical and other professional dilemmas and understand the local and global impact of legal choices.

Assessment Plan

Assessment refers to a process of (1) defining student learning outcomes for a course or degree program, (2) measuring whether students are achieving the identified learning outcomes, (3) analyzing the results, and (4) determining how to use the results to make changes in teaching or the curriculum to improve student learning. This assessment plan articulates a process for ongoing assessment of Albany Law School’s learning outcomes for each degree program beginning in academic year 2016-2017.

Assessment Plan Goals

The goals of this assessment plan are to improve student learning and to ensure we comply with various accrediting rules. Specifically, our goals are:

  1. To strengthen Albany law School’s program of education by gathering data about student learning, analyzing the data, and adopting changes to respond to areas of strength and weakness.
  2. To articulate a process to assess student learning outcomes at an institutional level over a 7-year period.
  3. To identify the roles of faculty and the administration in conducting institutional assessment.
  4. To demonstrate compliance with the ABA’s requirement that, by the 2017-18 academic year, every accredited Law School has a publicly available assessment plan.
  5. To provide students with a certification under “Pathway 1” of 22 N.Y.C.R.R. § 520.18 that they have the requisite skills and values that the Law School has identified as important to the practice of law.
  6. To demonstrate compliance with the Standards promulgated by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Curriculum Map

In Fall 2016 and in Spring 2017, a syllabus from each course taught was collected and an analysis conducted to identify which of the learning outcomes were covered in which courses. Every course in the law school’s curriculum is designed to achieve some, but not necessarily all, of the student learning outcomes set out above. The results will be made available on our assessment website. The Curriculum Map identifies where each of our learning outcomes is being covered in our required, core, and elective curriculum.

 

Implementation and Roles

The Assessment Committee will play the leading role in coordinating our institutional assessment activities, as per the following:

  1. During each year, Albany Law School will assess one to two learning outcomes using a combination of direct and indirect measures in accordance with the timeline set forth in the chart below.
  2. Each spring, the Assessment Committee will meet to discuss the method(s) by which each outcome scheduled to be reviewed will be measured.  The Committee will identify the direct and indirect measures it will use to collect data and develop rubrics, surveys, or other instruments as necessary.  Performance indicators may be modified as a majority of the committee deems appropriate.
  3. In the following fall, the Committee will begin to collect the data.
  4. After gathering the data for each outcome, the Assessment Committee will analyze the data and report its findings to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Academic Affairs Committee.
  5. The Assessment Committee will also make recommendations regarding changes to the academic program to the Academic Dean and Academic Affairs Committee based on its findings as to whether outcomes were achieved.
  6. The Academic Affairs Committee will review reports and make recommendations based on the reports. Recommendations may be directed to administrative departments, faculty committees, Faculty, Associate Deans, or the Dean.
  7. At the last faculty meeting of the academic year, the Assessment Committee will deliver an annual report on assessment to the Faculty.
  8. At the last faculty meeting of the academic year, the Academic Affairs Committee will deliver an annual report detailing curricular changes proposed or made in response to the assessment report.

Conducting the Assessment

In the spring before each annual cycle, the Assessment Committee will create a plan for assessment of the Program outcomes identified for the following year. The plan will identify what data will be collected and how the Committee will gather and analyze the data. For each learning outcome that is assessed, the Assessment Committee must use at least two measures, at least one of which is “direct,” and compare the results. (See examples below)

Assessment data will be analyzed and reported in an aggregated fashion. Identifiable student and faculty information will be redacted. The Assessment Committee will keep minutes and document findings. The Assessment Committee is responsible for following up on recommendations made year-to-year. In addition, in accordance with ABA Standard 315, the Assessment Committee is charged with conducting an ongoing evaluation of the assessment process itself. It will report, on at least an annual basis, progress under this plan, recommending changes to the learning outcomes or assessment process.

New York State Skills Competency Requirements

In December 2015, the Court of Appeals adopted a Skills and Values Requirement ("Skills Requirement") for admission to the bar in New York, which is in effect for J.D. students who commenced their law school studies in August 2016 or later and LL.M. students who commenced their studies in August 2018 or later. This Skills Requirement offers applicants a choice among five different "Pathways" to establish that they have acquired the skills and are familiar with the professional values necessary to practice law competently. These Pathways represent requirements for admission solely to the New York bar; they are not additional graduation requirements. For more information see 22 NYCRR 520.18 at the following link: https://www.nycourts.gov/ctapps/520rules10.htm#B18

The five Pathways are described below:

Pathway #1

Pathway #1 for the JD is satisfied if you complete your graduation requirements, which includes six experiential course credits, with at least one clinical course. Pathway #1 for the International LLM is satisfied if you complete your graduation requirements.

Here is the language of the Law School’s certification plan under Pathway #1.

Pathway #2

Pathway #2 is satisfied if you complete fifteen credits of experiential coursework, of which up to six “credits” can come from paid or unpaid “non-credit bearing summer employment supervised by an attorney in good standing in any state or territory of the United States or the District of Columbia.”

  1. The employment "credits" are used solely for the purpose of meeting the Skills Requirement. They will not appear on your transcript and will not count towards your overall graduation requirements. Fifty (50) hours of work constitutes one summer employment credit.
  2. You and your supervising attorney must complete a form available in the Registrar’s Office if you want to ensure that your summer legal employment counts toward Pathway #2.

Pathway #3

Pathway #3 is satisfied if you are accepted into and complete the Pro Bono Scholars Program in the spring of your last year.

The requirements for Pathway #4 and Pathway #5 are fulfilled outside of your law school study. For more information, refer to the Skills Requirement on the Court of Appeal’s website.

The Court of Appeals has also created a thorough FAQ document that answers many questions about the Skills Requirement.