Learning Goals

Brandeis University’s learning goals ask students to “follow the example of Justice Brandeis.” Legal studies courses provide some focus for this goal, including a course devoted to Louis Brandeis’ legal career and social philosophy, interpreted in the context of his times. Students in such courses develop a critical sense of what it means to “follow his example” as a formula for the pursuit of social justice. The Legal Studies Program draws its own inspiration from Justice Brandeis’ pedagogical example, starting from his belief that the study of law can enrich the pursuit of a liberal arts education. 

Core Skills

  • Through the elaboration of legal arguments, students develop increasing clarity in written and oral communication, subject to the demands of social persuasion and institutional scrutiny.
  • Through practice in applied argumentation, students learn how to mobilize (and to critique) the use of quantitative information in the common search for factual truth and effective public policy.
  • Through analyzing and building legal arguments in a variety of social and cultural contexts, students gain facility in systematic critique and self-reflection about norms.


  • Through exploring the history, diversity, and dynamics of legal systems, students supplement their disciplinary studies with attention to public actions and norms.
  • Through close analysis of legal case studies, students learn to integrate knowledge of social problems with strategic alternatives for action.
  • Through examining tensions within legal principles and institutions, students use knowledge to explore the effectiveness of action strategies in pursuit of justice.

Social Justice

  • Through rigorous application of skills and knowledge to legal problems, students develop an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of public advocacy and persuasion.

  • Students learn to put their commitments to social justice to the test of adversarial debate and judicial determination.

  • In every aspect of their study of law, students learn to articulate the aspirations for human improvement that emerge from creative legal thinking.