Legal Reasoning: Thinking Like a Lawyer

II - July 20–August 6, 2021
Modality, Day & Time:
Monday–Friday, 9:10 –11:00 a.m. and 1:10–3:00 p.m.

Jacques Erdos

Strong writing skills. Experience with debate is useful but not required.

“I have learned more than I thought I could in just three weeks and I feel like I got a very clear grasp of how to reason like a lawyer. I went into this course with high hopes and I must admit that all the lectures and trips surpassed my expectations.”  – Francesca D. | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  

Course Description

This course focuses on reading case law and interpreting the underlying laws, the research and reasoning that underlie solid legal arguments, and legal writing, while also giving students an inside look at the practice of law today. The course is structured like a traditional introductory first-year law school class.

Students learn first to use the methods and tools of legal reasoning and research, which they marshal to create effective, persuasive, and sophisticated written legal arguments. Once they have a foundation in legal research, reasoning, and writing, they are given an in-depth look at various types of law through interactive sessions with practicing lawyers, via guest speakers and field trips to law firms. They learn about the trial process and the inner workings of the court system by taking a tour of a New York City court and viewing a criminal trial. They learn how to problem solve using the lawyer’s toolbox and how to analyze legal sources and develop legal arguments based on and supported by the law and cases we research.

In-class drafting and public speaking exercises strengthen participants’ reasoning, argumentation, and writing skills while introducing them to various types of legal work, including written memoranda and arguments for oral delivery. Students work in class on preparing legal memoranda of law on specified topics. After the final draft, they pair up to argue against each other in a formal court oral argument setting.

Participants are required to bring laptops for this class. Students should be willing to dedicate several hours per week on case law readings, drafting of legal assignments, and related mock trial/oral argument preparation.


Jacques Erdos

Jacques Erdos holds a B.S. in accounting from New York University's Stern School of Business and a J.D. from St. John's University Law School. In 2005, Erdos began his own law and accounting firm with a focus in real estate, corporate law, and estate & tax planning. Prior to starting his own firm, Erdos was an attorney for many years in “Big Law” with Fried Frank and Skadden Arps in New York City, where he represented major developers, property owners, institutional clients, and high net worth individuals. Erdos is the chairperson of the New York City Youth Board and treasurer of his local community board in District 15 in Brooklyn. He also acts as pro-bono counsel to many charitable organizations in New York City. Jack has taught in the Columbia Summer Program since 2011.

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Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.