Master of Legal Studies in Forensic Engineering

The Master of Legal Studies in Forensic Engineering is designed for non-lawyers seeking to enhance their legal expertise, specifically with a goal to preparing themselves to serve as expert witnesses. Developed in partnership with The Vertex Companies, this concentration in the law of forensic engineering will be offered to respond to the needs of the forensic engineering industry, which specializes in investigating the cause and extent of damage caused by construction and design defects. The goal of this program is to equip students with the knowledge, experience, and skills needed to serve as experts in matters related to construction and design defects.

Students of the Forensic Engineering MLS will benefit from comprehensive coordinated curriculum including courses on American Law as well as courses focusing on contracts and torts, evidence, civil trial practice, and classes in the field of construction law. The 24-credit-hour program is fully online to meet the needs of working professionals and can be completed in one year (full-time), or across two or more years (part-time).

Master of Legal Studies in Forensic Engineering Requirements

  • Required Courses (13 credits)
    Introduction to Law for Non-Lawyers (1 credit)

    This course is designed to introduce non-lawyers to legal tools and methodologies so that they become more competent at reading, understanding, and applying the law to new scenarios. It will also introduce them to legal research and writing. The course will cover reading and briefing cases, understanding, and interpreting legislation, applying legal rules to new fact situations, and the relationship between different legal sources.

    Construction Law (3 credits)

    This course examines the legal relationships, obligations, rights, and remedies that govern the diverse parties to a construction project, including owners, lenders, contractors, material men, sureties, insurers, subcontractors, laborers, and others. A substantial portion of construction law (and accordingly, the primary focus of this class) is advanced contract law. Experience in the construction industry is not required, but those students who are unfamiliar with construction will benefit from spending a little extra time learning basic construction concepts and processes.

    Forensic and Scientific Evidence (3 credits)

    This course will cover the key elements of Evidence Law with a particular focus on evidence law governing forensic and scientific evidence. This includes an introduction to the preparation of scientific evidence, rules governing admissibility of forensic and scientific evidence in the courtroom, and rules applicable to expert witnesses and their testimony.

    Introduction to Tort Law (2 credits)

    This course provides an introduction to the foundational principles of Tort Law, including intentional torts, negligence, and strict liability.

    Introduction to Contract Law (2 credits)

    This course provides an introduction to the foundational principles of Contract Law, including the restatement of contracts and the relevant provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code.

    Expert Witness Role  (2 credits)

    This course will address the role of expert witnesses.

  • Electives (11 additional credits to be chosen from this list)

    This list may be supplemented and modified.

    Forensic Scheduling (1 credit)

    This online course covers the five standard forensic scheduling methods: Impacted As-Planned Method, As-Planned v. As-Built Method, Time Impact Analysis, Windows Analysis, and Collapsed As-Built Method. This class will use Primavera P6 scheduling software.

    Building Envelope Construction (1 credit)

    This course reviews the components of building envelope and civil design. It also reviews standard contract drawing details, manufacturer’s recommendations, and code requirements for various building components.

    Legal Writing and Research for Non-Lawyers (3 credits)

    This course will provide advanced legal writing and research for non-lawyers, including opportunities to research and prepare legal documents.

    Expert Witness Practicum (3 credits)

    This class will cover the main aspects of civil litigation and trial practice as they relate to forensic engineering and the process of being an expert witness, including discovery, trial, examination and cross-examination, and expert testimony. The course will be taught in a practicum style, with students taking on the role of expert witness.

    Remedies in Construction Law (2 credits)

    This course will address the remedies that are applicable in construction law disputes.

    Other relevant electives that are added to the program may be taken.

  • Capstone Requirement

    Students must complete a Capstone requirement by submitting a written product of at least 15-25 pages on an appropriate legal subject and with significant legal research component, approved by the MLS in Forensic Engineering Program Director (either through an elective course taken after the first term of the program or by registering for a separate Directed Research project for 2-3 credits). Students must submit an approved Capstone Completion form to the Office of the Registrar no later than the last day of the final examination period for the student's term of intended graduation.