Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Even though in-class practical exercises can seem goofy, students need to take them seriously

The problem with a lot of in-class simulations for students - client interviews, negotiation exercises, etc. - is that they can seem goofy, awkward or unrealistic because they're matched up against their friends rather than real clients or lawyers.  This blog post from the Lawyerist, though, reminds students to suspend disbelief and take those exercises seriously because they're a great opportunity to practice one's legal chops without consequence:

Many skills-based classes emphasize simulations as the way to develop practical skills. If you are a law student, think of these simulations as your sandbox. Simulations are your chance to try different strategies, approaches, and think outside of the box. Law school is your chance to learn without real consequences.

It can be hard to take simulations seriously. Maybe your classmate is pretending to be the client and you cannot take them seriously. Maybe you have to negotiate a contract with your classmate that is your best friend or your worst enemy.

To the best extent possible, engage in the experience. This is your chance to counsel a client, or figure out your negotiating style. Believe it or not, your friends may become your clients someday. Even more likely is that your good friend or worst enemy will be opposing counsel someday. Use simulations to figure out what works and what does not work, along with potential strengths and weaknesses of various approaches.

Simulations are your chance to try something, screw up, and learn from it. Many times, you will try something and succeed—laying the foundation for future success. Either way, getting a free practice run is a good thing. When you are an attorney fresh out of law school, having those experiences are incredibly beneficial.

You can read the rest here.


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