Building on Best Practices and the Clinical Theory Workshop

Thought-provoking discussion at the NYLS Clinical Theory Workshop on Friday.

Definitions. Carrie Kaas reported on the “definitions” project of an Alliance for Experiential Education Committee chaired by Cindy Adcock of Charlotte. That committee is attempting to generate a common vocabulary around experiential learning — a set of common definitions for the overlapping and inconsistently used terms now in use. The Building on Best Practices project will need to decide whether to adopt that vocabulary, or not.

One of the most interesting, and challenging, tasks is to decide what differentiates an in-house clinic from an externship. Is it geography? Who pays the supervisor? A distinction rooted in pedagogy? Degree of independent role assumption? Or perhaps the distinction is no longer useful & and is ready to be junked?

I lean towards pedagogy & intensity of supervision, and degree of independent role assumption. Except when I lean towards junking the terminology and recognizing that we’re dealing with a continuum on multiple dimensions, as argued in Revision Quest: A Law School Guide to Designing Experiential Courses Involving Real Lawyering.

Sequencing. Cynthia Batt from Stetson presented her draft article on curriculum sequencing that is one of several independent articles spawned by the Building on Best Practices book project. Arguing for what I have termed the “layer cake” curriculum model, she conceded that the model is not necessarily the “only” or “best” model. But, she suggested, at schools where significant numbers of faculty are resistant to integrating experiential education throughout the curriculum, whether due to insecurity about lack of practice experience, fear of change, or other reasons, it is one that might have the best chance of implementation. Fair enough. A reminder to me that I’m at a school with relatively little resistance to experiential education.

Under the Radar Creativity. Cynthia made another comment that I’ve been pondering: “I am so impressed with my colleagues’ creativity, the kinds of work they are having students do that no one else knew about. Why are people so reluctant to talk about experiential education embedded in ‘traditional’ doctrinal education?”

That creativity certainly permeates my own law school. Based on a survey last spring, my colleagues are integrating experiential exercises into over 50 doctrinal courses. And they’ve created a long list of very creative simulation oriented courses, ranging from Venture Capital Deals to Supreme Court Decision Making to International Contracting.

So much of this creativity operates pretty “under the radar screen”. But I’m not sure it’s reluctance exactly. Lack of time? Lack of an appropriate forum? Understated, we-don’t-blow-our-own-horn Seattle manners?

I don’t know. But if our two schools at opposite corners of the country are representative, perhaps legal education has changed more than we know. Are we approaching a tipping point?

A Rise in Alternative Careers Is Changing Legal Education

By Jill Backer Contact All Articles
New York Law Journal
October 28, 2013

In April of this year, Kaplan Test Prep did a survey of 200 pre-law students. Fifty percent of those students stated that they do not intend to use their future law degree in a traditional legal field. If this statistic extrapolates out to the larger law student population, we have a generation of law students of which only half will ever be practicing lawyers. So if half of law students do not intend on ever practicing law in a traditional way at a traditional firm—what is their intention? The answer is as varied and individualized as our law student population. The answer is also forcing a revitalization of legal education and at no time has legal education ever been accused of changing too quickly.

I often hear the term “alternative legal careers” being thrown around but I am not sure that this has ever been readily defined. Does it mean people who have not passed the bar? Or those in compliance positions, entry-level solo practitioners, or even legal educators? Or those who don’t work at a law firm? The answer to these questions and other questions is yes.

There is a lot of chatter about the definition and assessment of the jobs law students obtain after graduation. Back in 2011, the ABA, in conjunction with NALP, came up with the category of “J.D. advantage” to describe jobs that specifically do not require bar passage but do utilize skills learned in law school. The employers might have preferred candidates with a J.D. (or even required a J.D.), and the job is one in which the J.D. provided a demonstrable advantage to obtaining and/or performing the job. Interest in these jobs skyrocketed as the market fell, with more and more students seeking the J.D.-preferred positions when there were many less traditional positions available. In fact, in 2011, one in every seven jobs taken by new law graduates fell into the J.D. advantage category. (NALP Bulletin, May 2013).

In my opinion, the category and even the term “J.D. advantage” is a bunch of rubbish. Graduates in J.D. advantage jobs are sometimes every bit of lawyers as their brethren at firms and other traditional jobs. Today, lots of associate work and especially first-year associate work can rarely be achieved only by a barred attorney. I believe the legal community and its governing body the ABA are finally just coming to the recognition of what we already know—the J.D. is an agile and flexible tool that can be utilized in many forums.

Let’s face it, the opportunities on the traditional path for new law graduates are shrinking. Therefore, all professional opportunities can and should be defined under “working” and not put under some other nomenclature of J.D. advantage. There are few professional pursuits that would not value the analytical thinking and knowledge of the law and ethics that law school offers. This new category describing any deviation from the traditional path is not required and seems to paint in broad strokes a picture of these jobs as “lesser.” Jobs outside law firm associate positions are in no way less, and in some cases can offer much more.

Here in Brooklyn, there is a hub of a new technology age guided by entrepreneurial spirit and innovation. If a new graduate were to join a start-up business at a local incubator, is that a J.D.-preferred job? After all, while the graduate may not be doing legal work day-to-day, you can be sure that their legal education will be of huge use and influence in the new venture. In fact, you can bet that contracts and other issues involving the law would find their way to the law graduate’s desk rather than another employee. How do we say this is not a law job but a J.D. advantage, or perhaps because the employer did not specify—not even J.D. advantage.

Compliance is another area where the J.D. advantage term is overused. As recently as 10 years ago compliance positions were considered quasi-legal jobs. However, as regulation became more intricate, more and more J.D.s were hired into these roles at all levels. Today, most new hires in the compliance world are J.D.s. In fact, this is a huge and lucrative area of growth for the law profession. However, under the ABA rules, these are J.D. advantage jobs rather than legal jobs.

So here is what we know—there are fewer jobs in traditional legal roles for entry-level attorneys. New graduates are seeking out different opportunities due to fewer traditional positions and a real desire to practice/work in non-traditional forums. The ABA has decided to define any job without a traditional title—associate, staff attorney, assistant D.A., etc.—as something other than a lawyer. So where do we go from here? We need to change legal education and the ABA to fit the new reality.

Law schools have already begun a huge era of revitalization of legal education—some might say an overhaul. Some of these changes are meant to streamline legal education, others to provide more practical training. However, there is another factor that is changing law school: teaching to and preparing the ever-growing population of graduates that do not wish to practice in a traditional forum. Brooklyn Law School teaches a business boot camp and has a clinic that incubates new businesses in all facets, not just legal. There are other law schools that have language classes and compliance courses that are not rooted in the law.

These types of endeavors will help entering law students navigate the business world while utilizing their legal education. This string of classes shows a new multidisciplinary approach in legal education. The more well-rounded student is coveted by traditional and alternative employers alike. The old yard-stick used to measure future success was academic prowess. That is slowly changing as employers of all ilks realize that they need to incorporate softer skills and business skills as well as legal skills to keep their organizations afloat. Being a knowledgeable and ethical attorney is no longer enough to satisfy today’s legal market.

We are facing a turning point in the legal market. Law students are not focused on the same goals as a generation ago, as evidenced by the Kaplan survey cited at the beginning of this article. They are seeking out a new type of legal career that is not rooted in the traditional ways and definitions of law practice. The institutions of the legal market need to accept and understand that one way of using a law degree is no less than another. Law schools have to prepare these students as well as they do those engaged in the more traditional practices. Thankfully, law schools seem to be rising to that challenge.

Jill Backer is associate director for employer relations at Brooklyn Law School.

Congratulations UNM and Editors of the proposed new Best Practices Book!

This weekend, the University of New Mexico hosted a workshop BEST PRACTICES IN LEGAL EDUCATION: The Walls Are Coming Down” in which draft chapters of a new “Best Practices” book were reviewed and discussed.  The proposal to create a second book focused on best practices in legal education is the brainchild of Professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, ably assisted by Professors Deborah Maranville, , Carolyn Kaas and Lisa Bliss. The symposium workshop brought together law professors from throughout the country interested in how legal education and the world of law schools has changed since the publication of the 2007 book Best Practices in Legal Education. Facilitated by Professors Beryl Blaustone and Alex Scherr, the conference explored how many law professors fluidly move from former silos of clinical, legal writing, lawyering, librarian, doctrinal, theory, or skills concentrations to pioneer a new kind of curriculum, better prepare students for the profession, explore the limits and usefulness of technology, and deepen the understanding and learning of law students through self-improving assessment processes.

Fully cognizant of the pressures on legal educators, the fact that not all in legal education welcome the need to change, and the moral imperative to address the concerns of debt-ridden unemployed law students, the authors, editors, advisory board members and readers reviewed challenges, cross-cutting themes and areas of promise. They engaged in innovative thinking about how to move legal education forward for the good of the profession, society and the students who desire to be lawyers of tomorrow. The keynote speaker for the Friday night dinner and author of the first book, Professor Roy Stuckey, directed the participants’ attention to what legal education should look like in 2027. At the same time, he reminded us that those seeking to improve legal education today stand on the shoulders of folks such as the honorable Rosalie Wahl and former ABA president Bob MacCrate who paved the way for the changes we have seen in the last 40 years. He recalled their joint mission to prepare “agents for justice in our communities.”

Every law graduate needs to understand fully that civic professional role of the lawyer. And every admittee to the bar has a sworn duty to improve our system of and access to justice. Returning to those principles can help prioritize our cost-cutting and can position us to move forward in the best interests of our students, our institutions and the society our profession is pledged to serve.

Harvard Law’s Curricular Reform: 3 Years In

This was recently posted on PrawfsBlog by Glen Cohen.

Several years ago, under the stewardship of then-dean Kagan and then-professor-now-dean Minow, Harvard Law School made a significant change to its first year curriculum. Different portions were phased in at different times, but this will be the third full year of it all being in place, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to discuss the reforms. Unlike the Langdellian Socratic method that was also started at Harvard, I have seen less copying of our reforms. That may be that others do not think it a good idea, but I suspect it is more to do with the fact that this was a resource intensive change (adding an additional 21 professors needed to teach 1Ls) that was implemented at a moment where most schools are facing economic woes.

Here is the reform in a nutshell:

The typical Harvard 1st year courses (Civ Pro, Contracts, Torts, Property, Criminal Law) were all dropped from 5 credit hours a week to 4 credit hours.  An additional 4-credit class entitled “Legislation and Regulation,” which largely combines a course in legislation/statutory interpretation with parts of administrative law was added.  In addition, a 4-credit international/comparative law elective was required and added to the first year curriculum. Students choose from a menu of seven classes for 1Ls with foci such as private international, public international law, international humanitarian law, an comparative law (China, for example).  Last, and most recently, we moved our finals into the fall and now give the 1Ls a winter (or J-) term class called “Problem Solving Workshop,” which is taught intensively over 13 week days. Each day the students are given a problem, and in small groups have a day or two to solve it and submit work product as a group. While some of the problems are focused on litigation, others are things like dealing with public relations and media, negotiating, and other skills. The next day the students re-assemble, debrief and consider how different groups dealt with the problem, and start a new problem. The course is pass/fail. Once in the middle of the class and once at the end the students meet with practicing lawyers to test their proposed solutions against the practical realities as the lawyers see it.

Students also take a regular elective in the spring.

Here is my internal sense of how these have been received, but one reason why I want to post about it is to get feedback from those of you in the world out there who have seen our students under the new curriculum and their performance.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Building on Best Practices: Call for Ideas and Authors

The Clinical Legal Association, Best Practices Implementation Committee is planning a follow-up publication to Best Practices for Legal Education by Roy Stuckey and others.     The vision of the book is to build on ideas for implementing best practices, and to develop new theories and ideas on Best Practices for Legal Education.   If you would like to author a section in the book please let us know as soon as possible.   Then by December 1, 2011 send either of us a 3-5 page abstract identifying the knowledge, skills and values as well as the learning objectives and methodology of your innovative teaching idea.   The Editorial Board will meet at the AALS meeting in January to select pieces for inclusion in the book.

 

If you have any questions or thoughts about the project please feel free to contact either of us.

 

Looking forward to drawing  on the expertise of the legal academy to build on Best Practices for Legal Education!

 

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez ,Chair, Publication Committee

Deborah Maranville,  co-editor

 

Building on Best Practices–Call for Ideas and Authors

The Clinical Legal Association Best Practices Implementation Committee is planning a follow-up publication to Best Practices for Legal Education by Roy Stuckey and others. The vision of the book is to build on ideas for implementing best practices, and to develop new theories and ideas on Best Practices for Legal Education. We would like to call for topic suggestions and author abstracts. If you are interested in submitting a topic suggestions, please do so by August 1 by emailing Antoinette Sedillo Lopez at lopez@law.unm.edu with the topic idea and potential authors and resources relating to the idea. If you would like to author a section in the book and 3-5 page abstract identifying the knowledge, skills and values as well as the learning objectives and methodology of your innovative teaching idea. The abstract is due December 1, 2011. The Editorial Board will meet at the AALS meeting in January to select pieces for inclusion in the book.
If you have any questions or thoughts about the project please feel free to contact me or Deborah Maranville, co-editor.
Looking forward to drawing on the expertise of the legal academy to build on Best Practices for Legal Education! Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, Chair, Publication Committee

Wegner’s Thoughts on Legal Education Reform: Legal Education’s Wicked Problems

At long last, I’ve completed (and Rutgers Law Review as published) an expanded essay on my own thoughts regarding the Carnegie Foundation’s study of legal education.  The essay is entitled “Reframing Legal Education’s Wicked Problems” and is available at SSRN (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1533778) and on the Rutgers Law Review website (http://pegasus.rutgers.edu/~review/vol61n4.php).  I’ve tried to facilitate further discussion of several facets of the Carnegie study work (particularly by incorporating more excerpts of interviews with faculty and students about what is meant by “thinking like a lawyer” and how the related skills are taught).  I’m also happy to be able to contribute at some length to thinking about why upper division curriculum reform is so difficult, why it is so needed, and how it might be approached, particularly by taking into account issues relating to personal and professional identity that face students of this generation.   An abstract follows. –Judith Wegner (judith_wegner@unc.edu)

Abstract:

The essay, by one of the authors of Educating Lawyers (the “Carnegie Report”) offers fresh insights as to why legal education reform is so difficult, drawing upon the theory of “wicked problems” increasingly used in public policy, engineering and a variety of other fields. It demonstrates the application of that theory with reference to the oft-told tale of Rumpelstiltskin, and draws from that tale key lessons that can be used by those seeking to create a new prospectus for legal education in coming years. It then illuminates four “wicked problems: that have plagued legal education for years: how responsibility should be allocated for lawyer preparation; why change in content alone does not result in enduring improvements in legal education; whether “thinking like a lawyer” has a continuing place in legal education; and how the upper division can be fruitfully improved. In illuminating these problems, it also offers suggestions for how they might be approached and resolved.

After providing background on the characteristics of “wicked problems” and how they can best be approached, the essay focuses on “commonplaces” that underlie professional work and accordingly should drive professional education (including legal education), thereby providing a fresh framework for actionable steps to improve legal education and the practice of law.It next S discusses the need to attend both to visible and invisible dimensions of problems in order to shape meaningful solutions and explains the importance of often unrecognized dynamics of learning and teaching as major forces that play crucial roles in legal education and curriculum reform.

The essay then discusses the power of naming, offering an in-depth look at the nuances of “thinking like a lawyer” as understood by students and faculty members interviewed at sixteen diverse law schools in connection with the site visits that informed the Carnegie Report. It stresses the specific ways that first year case-dialogue instruction forces students to deal with uncertainty, one of the critical dimensions of professional practice, and unpacks the notion of “thinking like a lawyer” in ways that should prove illuminating for students and helpful for faculty members who seek to help students understand the resulting changes in epistemology that are so central to the first year of law school. It also considers the nature of the “case-dialogue method” and explains the ways in which that classic teaching technique plays a critical role in building students‘ abilities to think analytically.

Finally, the essay considers one of legal education‘s most intransigent “wicked problems”: the upper division curriculum. Using insights from the theory of “wicked problems,”The essay endeavors to explain why upper division curriculum reform is so difficult. It then offers four strategies for “renegotiating” existing assumptions and practices in order to improve the upper division curriculum. These strategies (including purposeful redesign on the large scale, rethinking content, rethinking pedagogy, and re-balancing teaching and learning responsibilities) each of which are very likely need to be used in concert in order for meaningful improvements to occur. In particular, this portion of the essay incorporates insights from educational psychology and work on professional identity development in graduate students to stress the ways in which effective advanced curricular innovations should attend to the challenges faced by the current generation of students who, much more than those in past decades, face challenges in navigating changes in personal identity at the same time they confront the need to develop a sense of professional identity before leaving law school.

Golden Gate University’s New 1L Curriculum

The faculty at Golden Gate University School of Law unanimously approved changes to the first-year curriculum to go into effect with the class that matriculates in the fall of 2010.  They have decided to allocate a total of five credits to Legal Writing & Research for first year students (2 credits in the fall and 3 credits in the spring).  They believe that this will better prepare their students for legal work in the summer and for subsequent upper division writing courses.

In addition, they are very excited to create first-year electives that will have no more than 25 students and introduce students to a range of skills other than legal writing and research.  Students will be able to select these spring semester electives, some of which will focus on transactional skills, for example working with unmarried co-habitants who want to put their understanding in writing.  Other electives will focus more on litigation skills in the context of alleged employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, or enforcing environmental laws through citizen lawsuits.  Golden Gate University will also offer one or two electives that focus on statutory interpretation and jurisprudence. 

Earlier this year the Golden Gate University School of Law faculty unanimously adopted the MacCrate skills and values as objectives of our JD program.  Creating these first-year electives will ensure that all students are not only introduced to skills such as client counseling and negotiation, but are also able to practice these during their first year and reinforce the analytical skills that they learn in the doctrinal courses.

GGU School of Law welcomes thoughts from others who are working on similar courses.  Please comment below.

How Far Will California-Irvine Go?

An article in the August, 2009, ABA Journal profiled the new law school at the University of California at Irvine which  was entering its first year.  The article reported some interesting things, including a claim that “it is designed to be among the most innovative law schools in the nation.”  Dean Erwin Chemerinsky was quoted as saying, “We have  the wonderful benefit of a blank slate and the chance to create the ideal law school for the 21st century.”  The article, however, was thin on details about plans for the curriculum.

The article reported that there will be a two semester “professionalism” course in the first year in which practictioners from many areas of practice will help students “gain a sense of the different kinds of work the profession does.”  First year students will also be required to conduct intake interviews for legal aid clients.  Two years from now, the school will require students to spend a semester in one of the eight planned in-house clinics.

So far, so good, but it is not clear how committed the school really is to innovative teaching or experiential learning.  There was no mention in the article or on the school’s website as to whether the school has clearly articulated its educational objectives or whether the program of instruction will progressively develop knowledge, skill, and values or integrate the teaching of theory, doctrine, and practice.

The Associate Dean of Clinical Education and Service Learning Programs, Carrie Hempel (formerly at Southern California) was quoted as saying that she gets the “chance to recruit a group of the finest clinicians in the country to come here and build their own dream clinical courses.”  Allowing people to come in and build their own courses does not sound like there will be a program of progressive learning into which these courses will fit.  Most unfortunately, the article makes it sound like there will be a group of people identified as “clinicians” rather than members of the faculty who happen to teach clinical courses.  I hope I am wrong.

It is not apparent that classroom instruction will be any more innovative or skilled than at traditional law schools.  The first members of the faculty were largely recruited from elite law schools, including Berkeley and Duke.  As a group, the faculty ranks 10th in the nation in ”scholarly impact,” and UC-Irvine intends to be considered an elite law school from the beginning.  All members of the faculty may be excellent teachers who are devoted to preparing students for practice, but there is no mention of this in the article or on the school’s website.

Will UC-Irvine’s law school really be an innovative place that can legitimately claim to be the ideal school for the 21st century?  I hope so, but it is too early to tell.  Meanwhile, if anyone has more details about the curriculum, please share it with us.

Roy

Orientation Programs

A fun aspect of getting a few gray hairs: we might be around long enough to see our ideas come to fruition.   Some years ago I wrote about the important role of experiential learning in providing context for law students.  Passion, Context, and Lawyering Skills: Choosing Among Simulated and Real Clinical Experiences, 7 Clin. L. Rev. 123 (2000) and Infusing Passion and Context into the Traditional Curriculum Through Experiential Learning, 51 J. Legal Educ 51 (2001). Continue reading

National Law Journal Reports on Carnegie and BP reforms at Duke, UCLA, Dayton and …..

                                           
Duke Law School dean David Levi           UCLA School of Law’s Michael Schill
Image: Jason Doiy 

Reality’s knocking

The recession is forcing schools to bow to reality.

Karen Sloan

September 7, 2009

Washington and Lee University School of Law has thrown out its traditional third-year curriculum and replaced it with a series of legal simulations meant to prepare students to practice law in the real world.

First-year students at Duke Law School and the new University of California, Irvine School of Law will take a yearlong course examining different legal careers and the ethical and professional issues associated with those career tracks.

A new LL.M. program at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law is designed to give recent law school graduates the skills their predecessors would have developed as starting law firm associates.

The movement to incorporate practical skills into legal education isn’t new, but legal educators and researchers report that the floundering economy is increasing incentives for law schools to revamp their curricula to prepare students for the realities of the legal profession. Continue reading

Upon My Honor

On August 20th, Albany Law School 1L’s filtered into our largest moot courtroom, the nervous excitement of the first week still lingering.  Standing before them was Northern District of New York Magistrate Judge, the Honorable Randolph Treece. With Dean Thomas Guernsey at his side, Judge Treece spoke about values like “honesty” and “integrity.”  The student’s listened as the weight of each word brought “professionalism” into balance with the privilege of studying law. 

 Two hundred fifty-five students then stood in unison and made the following pledge: Continue reading

It’s All Coming Together

Long-time Best Practices/Carnegie groupies or aficionados will note that one of other ongoing projects regarding legal education has been the research that Marjorie Shultz and Sheldon Zedeck of Berkeley have been conducting on what skills/qualities lawyers need.  They presented an early version of their findings at an AALS annual meeting several years ago.  Today (3-11-09), the NYT reported on their research.  The article is available at Continue reading

CPS Clickers in the Law School Classroom: A CRIM LAW EXPERIMENT

Darlene Cardillo, instructional technologist at Albany Law School, sent me the link to her article entitled, The Use of Clickers in the Law School Classroom, which was recently published in THE LAW TEACHER (pp.13-14). http://blog.engaging-technologies.com/2009/02/cps-clickers-in-law-school-classroom.html
 

Darlene has written an excellent article about Professor Daniel Moriarty’s use of clickers in his 1L Criminal law class and how he incorporated clicker questions into his TWEN (The Westlaw Education Network) website. I found most interesting the results of the online survey she sent students asking them how the use of CPS enhanced their learning of the course material. You can see the responses that she gathered from students on her blog: http://albanylawtech.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/getting-ready-for-cali-conference-presentation/

She and Professor Moriarty presented at the University of Texas School of Law on “Using Clickers in the Law School” at the CALI Conference on June 19, 2008.

First Year Practicum Course

My colleague Jenny Moore permitted me to post this course description for Practicum.  She, Alfred Mathewson and  Sergio Pareja are each teaching one section of First Year Contracts.    The Practicum is a one credit course connected to  Contracts.  Here is her description: 

University of New Mexico School of Law Practicum course (Fall 2008)   

 

OVERVIEW:  The goal of the first year year Practicum is to give our students a chance to begin to develop their practical lawyering skills as well as their ethical and professional sensibilities alongside the analytical skills they are honing in their doctrinal courses.  We chose to link Practicum to Contracts, one of our three first semester doctrinal courses, so that we could develop hypothetical exercises that built upon a particular substantive law foundation, and so that three professors could collaborate closely in teaching the course.  Thus we created a “paper client,” Elaine Lobato, who is involved in an employment contract dispute, and we generated various practice-related exercises designed to help students think in practical ways about client representation. 

 

    MOORE section (please note that the other sections incorporated some of these elements as well, or generated their own exercises and assignments):

 

    This section of Practicum regularly broke into small groups, either two groups of 20 students, or three groups of 13.  These groups were led by the instructor, her 2L teaching assistant and invited guest facilitators, including other faculty and staff members.

 

    Hypothetical exercises:

 

    1.  The first exercise was a mock interview of the client, Elaine Lobato (played by a 3L student actor) by her attorney, Atticus Finch (a 2L actor).  Our Practicum students observed the interview, and then were given the opportunity to ask the client additional questions to help draw out the factual basis for her potential claim.  This first exercise focused on the importance of building a trust relationship with the client, as well as thorough fact development. 

    2.  Second, the students were asked to draft a letter to Ms. Lobato, as her potential attorney, offering to represent her and clearly defining the scope of representation.  This second exercise focused on the need to clearly define the issues and the role that the attorney is taking on, whether initial research, negotiations, filing a law suit, defense against a particular law suit or law suits, etc. 

    3.  The third assignment asked the students to draft a letter from Ms. Lobato to the local Board of Education, in which she sought to accept an offer of employment.  This third exercise focused on the importance of careful drafting, to ensure that the various elements of an agreement are present, including essential terms.

    4.  The fourth assignment then required the students to analyze Ms. Lobato’s letter to the Board of Education and other related communications in terms of the validity of the writings under the Statute of Frauds.  This exercise was designed to help students apply common law and statutory requirements to a particular set of facts, and to develop creative legal strategies for seeking a particular outcome.

 

    In addition to these four skills-based exercises, this year’s Practicum gave our students the opportunity to attend presentations by lawyers working in various fields, and to ask them questions about their career experiences.  One attorney talked about the case of Delgado v. Phelps Dodge, a wrongful death case that she ultimately brought to the New Mexico Supreme Court, which served to narrow the scope of employer immunity from tort liability for workplace injury.  Another attorney will speak with our students about his commercial and tort-related practice, encompassing transactional work, as well as the defense of catastrophic injury and medical malpractice claims.  Finally, our students attended a lecture by Sian Elias, Chief Justice of the New Zealand Supreme Court, who spoke about the rights of indigenous people from a comparative law perspective.  Her lecture was of considerable relevance to our students interested in concentrating in the field of Indian Law as well as those whose New Mexico practice will require an understanding of the interrelationships between Indian law, state law, federal law and regional/international law.

 

    Finally, Practicum has created several opportunities for students to think about the practice of law in a broader human context.  One of the sections developed a mini “Law and Literature” unit, in which students selected a work of fiction or non-fiction grappling with justice issues in a particular historical or cultural setting.  Students selected among three books — A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest Gaines, looking at issues of race and criminal justice; The Welsh Girl, by Peter Ho Davies, revolving around a German POW camp in a Welsh town during the Second World War; and Benjamin Cardozo’s Nature of the Judicial Process, reflecting on the historical evolution of legal precedent.  Before the semester is out, our students will have the opportunity to reflect on their own career goals, and the ways in which they hope to engage their values in the practice of law. 

 

 

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