Integrating Skills and Collaborating Across Law Schools: An Example from Immigration Law
26 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2014 Last revised: 20 Jan 2016
Date Written: October 2, 2014
This Essay discusses the design and implementation of introductory Immigration Law courses taught at two different law schools, Western State College of Law in Orange County, California and the University of Maine Law School in Portland, Maine. Although the courses took place on opposite coasts and did not engage in a formal partnership that was visible to students, the authors deliberately planned the courses in close collaboration with one another behind the scenes. In doing so, the courses shared the explicit goal of increasing students’ exposure to practical lawyering skills while reinforcing students’ understanding of the substantive immigration laws. This Essay provides an example of the ways in which doctrinal courses across the law school curriculum can both deepen students’ understanding of substantive law while also exposing them to the realities of legal practice.
Part II of the Essay discusses the increasing focus within the legal academy today on training law students for the practice of law. Part II also describes how immigration law courses are well-positioned to illustrate how professors might emphasize doctrine alongside skills, even when those courses are not explicitly simulation-based or clinical in nature. In Part III, we share the process by which we planned our courses, the types of exercises that we incorporated into our classes, and the nature of the cross-country collaboration that took place between us as instructors and, to a lesser extent, between our students. The Essay concludes with a reflection on some of the limitations of our courses and areas for future development.
Keywords: pedagogy, skills, legal education, lawyering, collaboration, teamwork, immigration
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