Each semester, the University of Maine School of Law offers several bridge courses, one-credit short courses intended to introduce students to topics, skills, and issues not normally covered in the standard curriculum.

In the past few years, Maine Law has offered the following bridge courses:

A growing number of lawyers market themselves as appellate specialists. This course aims to interest students in the appellate specialty; provide an overview of the different types of appeals and appellate rules of procedure; and provide a forum to practice written and oral appellate advocacy. Students will ghost write one appellate pleading.  The course also will simulate client management skills and students will have the opportunity to practice oral arguments. In the process, students will learn a variety of fungible skills, e.g. how to evaluate strategic litigation choices and how to communicate those choices to the client; how to work with “good” and “bad” facts; how to best frame the legal questions presented by the case; and how to appropriately confront the ethical issues that routinely confront courtroom lawyers. At the conclusion of the course, students should feel comfortable independently prosecuting a direct appeal in state or federal court. Students should also pass any question about the Maine Rules of Appellate Procedure on the Maine Bar Exam.
The course will provide an overview of the commercial loan transaction from issuance of the commitment letter to closing, with an emphasis on documents and issues encountered in current Maine practice. It will describe the process of drafting and negotiating commercial loan documents with reference to sample commercial forms of agreement. The legal issues underlying common documentary provisions will be explored by review of relevant case law and articles. The goal of the course is to produce lawyers who are familiar with the way commercial loan practice is actually conducted and who understand the significance of each aspect of the process and of common documentary ingredients.
This course examines the use of modern technology and the Internet to commit crimes, the methods and procedures used to investigate crimes involving computers, and the use of digital evidence in criminal prosecutions. Students will discuss how the phenomenon of the Internet has spurred reexamination of traditional legal concepts in the areas of privacy, search and seizure, criminal liability, and admissibility of evidence. Students will be evaluated based on class participation and a take-home examination.

This course provides an introduction to cyber security law, with a focus on the nuts and bolts of how to plan for and deal with cyber incidents. It is designed to teach the student the basic skills needed to be able to assess an organization’s incident response readiness, to assist organizations with incident response planning and execution, and to deal with the technical and legal issues that typically come up during an incident as it is unfolding, as well as its aftermath, including data breach notification, regulatory investigations and enforcement and litigation. Actual case studies will be used. Several faculty members of USM’s Maine Cyber Security Cluster have collaborated with the Law School in designing this course and will participate in teaching this course. We will cover some of the key technology fundamentals that lawyers need to understand to be able to work effectively with cyber technical experts to assess privacy and cyber security risks and to analyze the legal implications arising from cyber incidents.

This course presents a survey of the driving forces revolutionizing the practice of law, examines the impact of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and IBM Watson on legal search strategies, evaluates the growing threat from cyber terrorism, and highlights the changing employment landscape for practicing attorneys.

It is said that there are two kinds of companies today; those know they have been hacked, and those that do not know (yet). Ninety-eight percent of all data are now created electronically, in the form of social media, big data, new communication forms that can create, and destroy, messages in seconds, and monitoring software that collects, synthesizes, reports, and stores an unimaginable volume and type of data about a company, its employees, their activities, intellectual property, business processes, and client data. An increasing number of actors want access to that data, including government agencies, regulatory bodies, international policing institutions, audit committees, marketing organizations, outside counsel, opposing counsel and hackers (state sponsored or otherwise). Companies (small, mid-size and large) are turning to machine learning, artificial intelligence, and related technologies to monetize data and capture it for compliance needs, research and development, and driving efficiencies across all business units. Newly minted attorneys must develop real world capabilities to confront the fast pace of technology apparent in nearly every aspect of business operations and growth.  Some of the subjects examined will be eDiscovery and cybersecurity practices, lawyers’ ethical obligations vis-a-vis electronic data, changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to take into account electronically stored information, and advising clients in this environment.

Native American Indian tribes are governments.  The United States Supreme Court describes tribes as “domestic dependent nations,” with inherent sovereign powers that “preexist the Republic.”  This course explores the foundations of American Indian Law, including the nature of tribal sovereignty, the scope of state authority over tribes, and the relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes under the Constitution. Federal Indian policy has been marked by “eras,” exhibiting shifts from efforts to destroy tribes to efforts to preserve them.  Whether the “modern era” of Indian self-determination will last is an open question.  History informs this field and will be an important theme of the course.
What do Supreme Court decisions on recess appointments and the Northwestern University’s Football team have in common? Both were at the center of recent key labor law rulings. This course will touch upon a number of key labor law concepts, including collective bargaining, good faith negotiation, joint employer status, and protected concerted activity. Using real life examples – supplemented with existing case law – this course will offer a practical, real world glimpse into the exciting and often political world of labor law.
This course is an introduction to privacy law fundamentals. The focus will be on defining privacy within a social and legal context. Topics covered will include: history, common law and litigation, fair information practice principles, international frameworks, policy, and enforcement. This bridge course is the first third of the “Information Privacy Law” course.
This course will introduce students to issues involving foreclosure of residential mortgages in Maine with emphasis on the borrower’s options to avoid foreclosure after payment default. Students considering representing consumers as well as creditors will benefit from this course, which will include an overview of Maine foreclosure law and mediation program; a hands-on review and analysis of the various types of promissory notes, typical mortgage forms and mortgage servicing guidelines, including the federal “Making Home Affordable” programs; understanding the role of the lender, mortgage servicer, investor and mortgage insurer; and negotiating “graceful exits” when home retention is not feasible. Major federal laws and regulations will be discussed, including the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), Truth in Lending Act (TILA), and the implementing regulations issued by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Class discussion and assignments will include review of actual cases to determine options available to the homeowner and compliance with CFPB regulations. Real Estate Transactions is not a prerequisite.
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the substance and processes of Jewish law. Students with an interest in constitutional law, legislation, and/or comparative law are particularly encouraged to enroll. No prior knowledge of Hebrew is required, and students are not expected to have any background in Jewish history. This course begins with an overview of the basic structure and foundational texts of Jewish law. Next, the course turns to the interpretive methodologies that have guided Jewish law for centuries, paying particular attention to the usage of interpretive canons and the role of stare decisis. The course then devotes several weeks to exploring various substantive topics in Jewish criminal and civil law. Throughout, a focus of the course is to compare and contrast Jewish law and American law and to explore the roots of American law in the Bible and in later Jewish texts. This is a one-credit course. Grading will be pass/fail and will be based on several short reading responses and class participation. There is no course book; all readings will be available online.
This course will examine the nature of law and legal reasoning. We will read and discuss classic articles in legal theory collected in The Canon of American Legal Thought (David Kennedy & William W. Fisher III eds., 2006). The course will begin with the legal realists, who famously showed how legal reasoning is inextricably bound up with policy choices. From there, we will turn to several schools of thought, from law and economics to critical race theory, that built on the realist insight to offer competing views on what constitutes proper policy reasoning and how it should inform the law.

Students will each be required to do one oral presentation summarizing one of the articles we read as a way to kick off discussion. For the weeks in which they are not presenting, students will be required to write one-page response papers that reflect on, critique, or raise questions about the readings for that session.

The course will focus on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) and the World Anti-Doping Code (the “Code”). It will begin with some background on the idea of international uniform dispute resolution and explain how the CAS and Code came into being. It will also cover arbitration clauses and how athletes agree to submit to binding arbitration. It will introduce the class to the Ad Hoc Panel of the CAS presided over the London Olympics and discuss the cases that arose during the Games.   A real CAS/anti-doping case will be assigned. Each student will have to prepare a 5-7 page arbitration brief. Texts will likely include: a) the World Anti-Doping Code; b) The CAS Procedural Rules; and c) a case packet of relevant CAS jurisprudence. The course may also include other cases and articles of interest.
This course will be a hands-on research course which will include both classroom lectures and library exercises. The first part of the course will introduce the students to Maine legal resources. Second, this course will expand the students’ knowledge of federal primary legal resources as well as introduce them to various secondary sources. Finally, the students will be introduced to various electronic resources, including alternatives to the large commercial databases, as well as instruction in cost effective research techniques for electronic resources.
The professors will introduce students to the work of the Maine Legislature and the different roles that lawyers play in its work. These include service as a member of the Legislature, lobbying for individual or organizational clients, and assisting the legislature’s work as a part of the lawyer’s obligation to the effective workings of the Maine Constitution. Both professors regularly work in various aspects of Legislative Lawyering.
This course is intended to provide students with a rudimentary introduction to general practice in Maine District Courts through the experiences and perspectives of three sitting District Court Judges. The course will expose students to some of the institutional culture, practical considerations, technical skills, and professional values needed to become effective and respected practitioners in Maine. Although not designed to train students on substantive law, the course will acquaint students with practice areas within the District Court’s jurisdiction, such as Criminal Misdemeanors, Juvenile Matters, Family Matters, Child Protective, Protection from Abuse/Harassment, Landlord/Tenant, Debtor/Creditor cases.
Through the study of the development of legal rules and concepts across a wide variety of topics in early Maine law, this course aims to help students appreciate the critical role of legal history in understanding legal issues of the present day. Topics that will be considered from that perspective include welfare rights, employee injury claims, contributory negligence, the rights of women, wrongful death claims, religion in public schools, public safety concerns, morality laws, Maine’s response to the Dred Scott case, disputes between neighbors, eminent domain, the regulation of private property, the police power, and the power of government to tax and spend. Considered with the benefit of hindsight, early judicial decisions on those topics provide numerous illustrations both of errors to avoid as well as examples to emulate and thus constitute a particularly helpful background for assessing legal issues of the present day. Throughout this course, students will be encouraged to evaluate legal issues in terms of the justice or injustice of various approaches to those issues and to consider how, with the benefit of hindsight, future generations will evaluate the jurisprudence of the present generation.
This bridge course will explore recent and contemporary American use of military force abroad. Constitutional, military, and international law will be applied against the backdrop of current events and historical analogues. This course will examine the legality of American foreign military intervention, touching on contentious issues like targeted killings and torture. The discussion will reveal the interplay between domestic law and foreign policy, and examine the practicalities of providing legal advice in the realm of national security.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, began a wide-ranging debate over the extent to which individual privacy must give way to national security and foreign intelligence to provide the Nation with greater protection. This is not the first time the Nation has crossed this threshold. As Benjamin Franklin noted: “They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” With the invasion of digital technologies and data into our everyday lives, and the ease and effectiveness of using these technologies potentially to fight terrorism, the protection of privacy and civil liberties must be weighed against national security activities. While shifting to either side of privacy or national security is not the answer, finding the right mix is an important question. As 9/11 Commission Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton testified before Congress in November 2005, the failure of the national security agencies to understand and to share information about the suspected terrorists “was the single greatest failure of our government in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks.” This course will provide an examination of the legal authorities related to national security law and how the law provides for necessary protections for privacy and civil liberties.
This one-credit hour course will survey many of the issues confronting attorneys who represent non-profit boards of directors. In format, each class will be organized as a series of board meetings at which students will “advise” the board, supporting that advice with their research. There is no textbook or examination. The grade for the course will be determined by both the student’s class participation, as well as a paper, due at the end of the school term, of no more than ten pages. The course will prepare students to take responsibility for their opinions and advice, guide students who seek employment in the world of non-profits, and encourage students to become responsible volunteer board members.
Do surfers have a ‘right’ to the waves? Can farmers sue to protect ‘their’ clouds? Can private commercial developments occupy what were once high seas areas? This course examines the modern history of law and policy developments that have enabled private actors to lay claim to natural resource functions, services, and space once thought of as predominantly public in nature. Students will examine relevant international law principles that establish legal regimes which allow coastal states (such as the United States) to claim exclusive jurisdiction over certain spaces and resources which in turn allows states to allocate access and use of such spaces and resources among private users. Evaluation will be based on a paper and presentation explaining how some public natural resource or space has effectively become ‘privatized’ to some degree.
Our modern civilization increasingly is dependent upon energy, yet over eighty percent of the energy consumed in the U.S. and world is from fossil fuels – which accounts for the lion’s share of greenhouse gas emissions that are the primary cause of climate change. Climate change has become the subject of major economic, political and scientific concern and debate, with direct impact upon energy law and policy – as well as growing economic, health, and social impacts in Maine. Which is creating growing opportunities for work for attorneys and those trained in the law. Additionally, the alternative energy sector is the fastest growing one in Maine, and according to a recent report by the Maine Technology Institute has the greatest job growth potential over the next 10 years. Maine has more renewable energy resources than any other state in New England.

This course is an introduction to the clash between environmentalism, energy and economics, as well as about evolving technologies that are being pursued in Maine. We want clean energy but not high prices; we want pristine coasts and view sheds, but also comfortable cars, heat and light, and the latest electricity-consuming products. This course will provide students with a practical understanding of issues that will fundamentally shape their personal and professional futures regardless of major or discipline, in Maine or wherever they may live. It will also introduce them to some of the key Maine business and professional leaders in these fields, as well as develop and strengthen their oral and written advocacy skills.

This course will introduce students to issues encountered in securities litigation. It will begin with an examination of liability provisions under Federal, State, and FINRA authorities. We will then examine securities class actions with their surrounding substantive and procedural issues, including motions to dismiss, motions for summary judgment, statutes of limitation, and class certification. Attention will be placed on the pertinent Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, including Rules 8(a), 9(b), 12(b)(6), 23, and 56. The course will also briefly examine other forums in which securities litigation arises, including FINRA arbitration, state courts, and Delaware. The course will then move to a description of the SEC Enforcement process. The interaction between SEC enforcement actions, criminal proceedings, and private litigation will be examined. Issues relating to ethics and privilege will also be explored. The students may also have the opportunity to participate in a mock deposition. Finally, certain policy issues relating to the enforcement of the securities laws will be addressed.
This course is a hands-on introduction to the practical considerations of starting and building a successful law practice. At the weekly seminars we will address topics like location, cost, accounting, conflicts, technology, advertising, mentoring, and procedures all of which are critical to small-firm effectiveness. Guest speakers may speak on relevant topics. Coursework includes periodic small projects and the creation of a complete business plan as final project.
Chances are, wherever you are admitted to practice law, you will swear an oath to uphold a State Constitution. In order to do that, you must understand something about state constitutional law, which often varies significantly from federal constitutional law. State constitutional law provides a fascinating opportunity for practitioners to litigate weighty questions in unchartered territory. As the Vermont Supreme Court has written, our generation of lawyers “has an unparalleled opportunity to aid in the formulation of a state constitutional jurisprudence that will protect the rights and liberties of our people, however the philosophies of the United States Supreme Court may ebb and flow.” This bridge class aims to provide you with the tools for doing just that.
Sometimes it takes more than knowledge of the law to understand how to advise a client. This course aims to introduce the necessary technical basics of computing and the Internet. If you use a computer everyday but do not understand how it works or how it communicates over a network, this course will fill in the gaps and explain how it all works and why. The course is designed to prepare students and lawyers for dealing with specific areas of the law (such as information privacy, cyber security, computer crimes, and intellectual property) that frequently require an ability to understand basic information technology concepts and often involve communicating with technology-savvy clients.