Skip to main content

LIBR 4300 Legal Information Literacy: Syllabus and Course Requirements

Syllabus and Class Schedule

Library North Room B101
Mondays & Wednesdays 4:00-5:15
Professor: Michael Germano
Text: 769-287-1015
Phone:  323-343-3963
Office Location: Library North Room 1018A (Ask for me at reference desk)
Office Hours: Monday 2:00-4:00; Tuesday 3:00-4:00; Wednesday 3:00-4:00;
Thursday 3:00-5:00; Friday 11:00-12:00

Course Materials

Texts: Peter T. Wendel, Deconstructing Legal Analysis: A 1L Primer, New York: Wolters Kluwer/Aspen, 2009.
           Kenneth J. Vandevelde, Thinking Like a Lawyer: An Introduction to Legal Reasoning, Westview Press, 1996 or later edition.
Course website:


Course Description

LIBR 4300 - Legal Information Literacy(3) Advanced information literacy course that considers the use and impact of different forms of legal information. Students will learn to analyze and evaluate legal information to determine meaning and relevancy. (wi)


Student Learning Outcomes

 At the end of this course students will have knowledge and/or competency in the following specific areas:

  • Comprehend United States legal system and the ways in which the law is conceptualized and authored;
  • Analyze, interpret and communicate about the various sources of the law (legislative, executive and judiciary) and the different ways a reader much approach each;
  • Understand how the law is published in the United States including official/unofficial, print/digital, free/pay, primary/secondary dichotomies that shape the way the law is gathered and used;
  • Read and analyze the legal information for authoritative meaning in a legal context;
  • Consider the role of precedent in common law systems and its importance in determining current-ness or duration of a legal standard;
  • Explain the role of specific types of legal information and their relation to one another in terms of establishing their meaning;
  • Synthesize disparate sources of the law for collective meaning;
  • Apply legal information and its meaning to understanding and communicating (written and spoken) rights and duties under the law;
  • Imagine the different ways that lawyers and judges think about and read legal information like cases, statutes and regulations;
  • Write and speak with the legal vocabulary required for thinking about the law as a legal information literate reader of it;
  • Analyze legal information and think critically about its relevancy, appropriateness and utility;
  • Reason about the law using legal information;
  • Explain how law is based upon logic and that applied legal information in ways that are sound and predictable to knowledgeable readers of it;
  • Craft sound arguments with legal information as the basis (written and spoken) using tools like deduction, analogy, hypothetical scenarios and comparison in order to convey understanding of the law including unintended consequences.


 Course Requirements

 Students in LIBR 4300 can earn 100 points total over the course of the semester. The total points earned will determine the final grade:

























Grades are based upon the follow requirements/deliverables. More detailed information about each assignment will be provided before the due date and posted on the course website:


  • Understanding the Law Impact Essays (4); Each essay is worth 10 points/10% of your grade. The essays will require you to read a legal text and reflect on how your understanding of it might impact you, your family, friends or community. Each essay will be 3.5 pages long (double spaced, 12 point Times Roman, 1 inch margins). Topics will be assigned in class.
  • Right & Duties Essays (4); Each essay is worth 10 points/10% of your grade. The essays will require you to read and analyze a legal text for meaning with an eye towards understanding the rights and/or duties the text requires/assigns. Each essay will be 3.5 pages long (double spaced, 12 point Times Roman, 1 inch margins). Topics will be assigned in class.
  • Final Project; The final project will be worth 20% of your grade. You will be given a closed universe of information that involves a recent United States Supreme Court decision and the law that underpins it (cases, statutes and regulations) with the goal of analyzing the reasoning and outcomes implied by the information presented. In other words, you will be required to write extensively (10 pages, double spaced, 12 point Times Roman, 1 inch margins) in you own words, about The Court’s decision while critically questioning the choices made in interpreting the underlying cases, statutes and/or regulations supporting it.


Course Policies

 A student that succeeds in must demonstrate the following traits and characteristics:

  • Observes all university policies related to academic honesty and adheres to them at all times;
  • Shows up on time and prepared for class each week and stays focused for the entire period;
  • Actively engages professor and classmates during discussions and class activities;
  • Adopts disciplined study/work habits that allocate at least 4 hours per week on average for reading. outside preparation and completion of requirements;
  • Is fully aware of all due dates, equiz dates, course requirements and asks professor (via email or office hours) if they do not;
  • Checks email regularly and communicates with professor in a timely way when needed;
  • Does not make excuses for missed deadlines or failed work and instead offers solutions to the problem of not meeting course requirements;
  • Works effectively with colleagues on three group projects/presentations;
  • Acts like an adult who accepts full responsibility for their choices and actions whether they result in success or failure;
  • Commits fully to their professional success as a student while achieving balance in their personal life so it does not impinge upon that commitment. 


Students with Disabilities

 The university provides reasonable accommodations to students with documented physical and learning disabilities.  The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD), located in Student Affairs Room 115 coordinates all documentation of disabilities (323-343-3140)


 If you have any questions at any point during the semester please contact the professor via email or during office hours as soon as possible.

Class Schedule


Topics Covered


Due Dates


·     Class introduction and syllabus review

·     Information literacy generally

·     Information literacy in legal contexts

·     U.S. legal system and sources/authors of legal information

·     How legal information is created

·     How legal information is used

·     Overview of forms and functions of legal information




·     Law as a function of place and the important role of jurisdiction in the creation and application of legal information

·     Secondary vs. primary sources of legal information

·     Reading and writing about secondary sources and the role of authority compared to persuasion

Definitions and Concepts



·     Law as published text: Cases, statutes & regulations

·     Thinking about & reading legal information like a lawyer

·     Constitutionality and the validity of legal information


Ch. 1

Law and Impact Essay #1


·     Stare-decisis/precedent and longevity or lifespan of legal information

·     Analysis and application of precedent

·     Precedent as rule in common law systems

·     The role of synthesizing information in order to arrive at precedent


Ch 2

Law and Impact Essay #2


·     Legal reasoning generally

·     How authors of the law reason about the law

·     Utilizing deduction, hypothetical scenarios and analogies to reason about the law


Ch. 3

Law and Impact Essay #3


·     How to read and analyze a case

·     Parts of a case


How to Read a Case (article)

Law and Impact Essay #4


·     How judicial opinions are written and applied

·     The US court system and jurisdictional considerations related to cases


Ch. 5



·     Briefing Cases

·     Factual analysis: Reading for issues and implications

·     Reasoning and critical thinking in case briefing


Ch. 2

Rights & Duties Essay #1


·     Applying cases to rights, duties, obligations

·     Applying multiple cases to a single factual scenario



Ch 4


Spring Break


·     Legislation, statutes and codes

·     The legislative process: How laws are made in the US and the legal information that is produced

·     Legislative history as persuasive legal information


Ch. 16

Rights & Duties Essay #2


·     How to Read and Analyze a Statute

·     Parts of a Statute The United States Code: Overview

·     Applying Statutes to Rights, Duties, & Obligations

CRS Report



·     How codified legal information gets interpreted, construed and applied by courts

·     Reading cases about legislation


Ch. 17

Rights & Duties Essay #3


·     Regulations: When Statutes Don’t Say Enough

·     The regulatory process and creation of legal information related to it

·     How to read and analyze a regulation

Thinking Like a Lawyer Article



·     Synthesizing legal information: Getting to the black letter law




Ch. 3

Rights & Duties Essay #4


·     Rule of Law Analysis: General to specific

·     Cases/Issues of first impression and the importance of legal information gathering and analysis







Final Project Due


John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8300