Monday, April 27, 2015

Practical Learning at Loyola-LA

Last year, American Lawyer rated Loyola-LA as the number three law school for training students for big-firm practice.  The rest of the top five were Duke, Michigan Stanford, and Chicago.  How did Loyola-LA join this illustrious group?

Loyola-LA has one of the most vigorous practical skills programs in the country because they prepare students by practice area.  (here)  It has practicums in business law and civil litigation, as well as in more specific areas, such as tax and entertainment law.  For example, "The adviser for The Corporate Law Concentration is Professor Dana Warren, the Patrick J. McDonough Director of the Business Law Practicum. According to Professor Warren, 'The Corporate Law Concentration gives students the opportunity to see what a lawyer really does in a transactional practice.' This real-life understanding makes graduates more employable in today‚Äôs market. One of the ways this Concentration prepares students for practice is through the capstone course. Warren adds, 'The capstone course, Business Planning, asks students to review documents and prepare client advice, to draft and comment on transaction documents typical to an entrepreneurial setting, and to master the lawyering skill of translating business-speak into effective contract language and back again.'"

Similarly, "The Civil Litigation Skills Practicum is a two-semester course that provides a survey of the litigation skills necessary to prosecute and defend a case from the pleading stage, through discovery and motions, up to, but not including trial. While the legal basis of the two-semester class is a survey of the applicable California Rules of Civil Procedure, California Rules of Court, and California Rules of Professional Conduct, the course is not merely a study of legal theories. Rather, the rules will be studied in the context of a simulated dispute that goes through both semesters."

Likewise, "Focusing on the tax attorney's role in the deal process, the Tax Law Practicum takes a transactional approach to the issues in an M & A transaction involving the purchase and sale of a business. In addition to analyzing substantive tax issues, the course focuses on the functions and demands placed on the tax lawyer, including tax planning for the transaction, and negotiating and documenting the tax provisions of the acquisition agreement.

The students will prepare a tax memorandum, give an oral presentation of the research and analysis of tax issues, as well as run a mock meeting with a client and corporate partner. Special guest speakers will include young tax lawyers and experienced corporate lawyers. The course objective is to integrate theory, ethics and practice in order to prepare students for the types of projects and challenges they will confront as lawyers in a transactional practice."

Loyola-LA's website states, "One of the things which distinguishes Loyola's faculty from others with similar credentials is the faculty's use of their expertise in the legal community, and their seamless integration of the doctrinal expertise with practical skills training in the classroom. Moreover, there are 13 full-time faculty members who teach in the required skills curriculum."  (here)  Loyola-La has numerous real world courses, including Cross Examination Intensive Workshop, Deposition Practice, Drafting Civil Trial Documents, Fact Investigation, Commercial Law Drafting and Negotiation Skills Class, Business Planning I: Financing the Start-Up Business And Venture Capital Financing, Constitutional Law In Action: Litigating Section 1983 Civil Rights Suits, Civil Litigation Practical Workshop: Litigating Child Sex Abuse Cases, etc.

Loyola-LA has developed an innovative approach to legal education, which satisfies the latest research of education scholars.  As I have said many times, theory and practice can be taught together.  In fact, practice reinforces theory because when one applies knowledge, one retains that knowledge better and is better able to use it.  Moreover, as I have also said many times, it is better to have a practical course on litigating civil rights law suits than a purely theoretical course on critical race studies.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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