Sunday, July 28, 2019

"Have it your way" - Chicago-Kent College of Law lets 1Ls customize the curriculum including taking a clinical course in the first year

Taking a cue from that 1970's Burger King ad campaign aimed at differentiating the fast-food chain from its competition (you know, "hold the pickles, hold the lettuce . . . special orders don't upset us"), Chicago-Kent has launched an innovative "Your Way" program for 1Ls that lets them substitute an upper level elective - and even a clinical course - for a traditional first year one. Under the "Your Way" program, 1Ls don't get to skip those 1L course altogether but instead defer them until the second year. The program is intended for entering students who come to law school already knowing the area of law they'd like to specialize in. For those students, the "Your Way" program lets them jump right into their preferred speciality including the opportunity to take an  clinical course in the spring semester. Traditionally, law students wait until the third year to dip their toes into clinical waters. 

Here are more details about the "Your Way" program from the Chicago-Kent website (including an explanatory video):

1L Your Way Program


The 1L Your Way program, available to full-time J.D. students, is an optional, early-specialization track that introduces flexibility into the first-year curriculum. Students who choose to participate in 1L Your Way defer the required first-year course Legislation to the second year in favor of taking either an approved, upper-division elective course or a unique first-year clinical course.


Elective Course Option

The elective course option is designed for first-year students who arrive at law school with defined practice goals, allowing them to begin specializing during their first year of studies rather than after they have satisfied all of their first-year law school requirements, as is traditional.


Students who intend to pursue a career in intellectual property law, for instance, may take an IP elective such as Copyright Law, Patent Law, or Trademarks & Unfair Competition during the spring semester of their first year; similarly, students who plan to practice in a corporate law environment may take an elective such as Business Organizations. One objective is to enhance students' marketability for summer employment.


A list of approved electives for first-year students is part of the spring-term registration materials each year.


First-Year Clinic with Rotation Option


The first-year clinic option aims to help students refine their career interests by gaining exposure to diverse areas of law practice. Based on the medical school model, this opportunity allows first-year students to participate along with upper level students as members of one or two clinic sections.  It matches first-year students with one or two faculty practitioners from the C-K Law Group, allowing students to learn applicable skills as they assume various practice roles.


Based in Chicago-Kent's in-house law firm, the first-year clinic option is a ground-breaking program among the nation's law schools. The law firm's faculty practitioners participate as both teachers and mentors. Students enrolled in the program become actual members of a clinic section and have the option to sample two different practice areas or stay with one area for the entire semester.


Practice areas include criminal defense, employment/civil litigation, entrepreneurial law, family law, health and disability law, and tax and probate law. Students participate in legal and factual research, client interviews, document drafting, discovery review, administrative hearings and negotiations, trial team strategy sessions, court appearances, and motion calls.


Approximately 50 students will be eligible to participate in the First-Year Clinic during the spring semester each year.


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