Sunday, March 14, 2010
In a story we covered extensively last week precipitated by a student editorial decrying the lack of a mandatory brief-writing course in the 1L curriculum at U. of Texas School of Law, the UT Dean responded on Thursday with this column in the Daily Texan: "The Firing Line: UT School of Law's dean speaks out on a practical legal education."
I am writing in response to the opinion piece written by three students which appeared in The Daily Texan on March 4 under the title, “Law students need a practical education.”
A little more than halfway through their first year of law school, the authors of this call for practicality have not yet confronted the law school’s extraordinary array of courses, ranging from Admiralty Law to Wind Power Law.
In between are dozens upon dozens of courses of undeniable practicality in topics such as complex litigation, intellectual property, family law, innovation and entrepreneurship, tax, trusts and estates.
Nor have the authors encountered our legal clinics (educational programs in which students deal with the real problems of real clients), our Advocacy Program or our clerkship and fellowship programs. We have 17 clinics ranging in areas including criminal law, environmental law, transnational worker rights, children’s rights, national security, community development, legislative lawyering, domestic violence, immigration law and Supreme Court litigation.
Our Capital Punishment Clinic had four cases pending in the Supreme Court in a single recent term and won all four. More than half of UT Law’s students take at least one clinic, and their experiences are remarkably intense, rewarding and exquisitely practical.
Terry Tottenham, the president-elect of the State Bar of Texas, took umbrage at The Daily Texan piece; he has taught all phases of litigation to our students for the last 20 years and is only one of 41 adjuncts presently teaching in the Advocacy Program. Hundreds of students participate in the program each year, and many more participate in various interscholastic advocacy competitions.