Thursday, March 12, 2009
Washington & Lee Dean Rod Smolla knows what time it is - time for law schools to get serious about not just training students to think like lawyers, but to train them to actually practice law. That idea, along with $2 million in seed money from an alumnus, is helping to launch a new program at the school that will become mandatory for all 3L students by 2011. Here's how the National Law Journal (password protected but registration is free) describes it:
Traditional classroom instruction will be replaced by practice simulations. Students will go through lawyering exercises as if they were representing actual clients. Fictional cases will be created.
[T]he philosophy [will be] much like the one used by medical schools and business schools, which immerse the students into the actual practice of the profession. The third-year students, however, will be allowed 'do overs.' In other words, unlike in the real world, if students write a brief that's not sufficient, or present a weak case, they'll get a chance to do it over again.
Distinguished judges and practitioners from a variety of top law firms will join the permanent faculty to help teach the inaugural class. Among those recruited for the project include Virginia Supreme Court Justice Donald W. Lemons and well-known criminal defense attorney Judy Clarke. Recently, 75 second-year students — more than half of the class — volunteered to be the first group to go through the experimental program.
All third-year students in the program will be required to obtain a Virginia practice certificate. The program will remain voluntary through the 2010-11 academic year before becoming mandatory for all third-year law students in 2011-12.
Hat tip to the National Law Journal.
I am the scholarship dude.