Goldsmiths adopts pioneering Harvard law course

Goldsmiths undergraduates are the first outside the United States to be granted access to Zero-L, an online primer designed to ensure students are equipped with sufficient legal knowledge to hit their studies running

A pioneering online course is to be offered free to law students at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Zero-L was originally developed by Harvard Law School as a primer to ensure that all incoming undergraduates were equipped with sufficient foundational legal knowledge to optimise their learning on the course ‘proper’.

Goldsmiths undergraduates studying the LLB law programme are the first outside the US to be granted access to Zero-L, which features 18 Harvard law faculty members introducing basic legal concepts, legal methodology, career orientation, and subject-specific knowledge.

“Zero-L is an outstanding addition to our LLB law programme, giving our students a firm foundation in legal theory and legal institutions, and allowing them to understand how the English and US legal systems compare,” said Professor Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, head of Goldsmiths’ law department.

“This exciting development reflects the international outlook of our programme, where we invite our students to look at the English legal system in a global context and go on to study areas of international relevance such as human rights law, art law and AI, disruptive technologies and the law.”

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Zero-L launched in 2018, following a realisation that the profile of incoming law school students had changed almost beyond recognition from even just 10 years previously. A whole new raft of backgrounds and lived experiences was coming to the fore, with many students arriving boasting years of ‘real world’ work experience, or coming from abroad, or having majored in STEM.

Thus, the catalyst for ensuring that all newcomers were equipped with the tools to prosper in their learning (Zero-L is a play on the familiar terms for first-, second-, and third-year law students – 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls).

The course includes an introduction to law and the legal profession, the history of the American constitution, separation of powers and federalism, litigation, citizenship rights, instruction and practise in basic skills, and how to read a case.

“Zero-L sessions are very much in line with Goldsmiths law department’s emphasis on placing legal doctrine and procedure within broader socio-economic contexts, and noting how law and legal practice intersect with gender, class, and race,” said Dr Dagmar Myslinska, lecturer in law at Goldsmiths.

“[We] are excited to be embedding Zero-L sessions into our modules, drawing out commonalities in Anglo-American legal doctrine and the practice of law, while providing comparative insights.”

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