Livening Up 1L Year: Moving Beyond Simulations to Engage 1L Students in Live-Client Work
The Second Draft, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2020
10 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2020
Date Written: December 1, 2020
Few question that experiential education in law school is important: various reports have emphasized the need, the American Bar Association requires it for law school accreditation, and some states even mandate it for admission to the bar. Yet, there are limited opportunities to engage in experiential learning during the first year of law school, and particularly opportunities that involve working with real clients who have genuine legal dilemmas. Against this backdrop, I, like a few others across the country, have developed a live-client experience for my students to bridge the gap between the skills they are learning through simulations in my 1L legal writing course, with practical application in a live setting to help real individuals. Specifically, over the past two years, my students have had an opportunity to participate in live-client work through a partnership I established with a local nonprofit, Lawyers Clearinghouse, which engages the private bar in pro bono direct-services representation of homeless and low-income individuals. The partnership helps develop my students’ lawyering skills, reconnect them to their initial reasons for attending law school, build empathy, and grow both their professional networks and commitment to pro bono service. The bar benefits from free legal services and from making connections with 1L students who will soon be applying for summer jobs in their offices. And Lawyers Clearinghouse benefits by reaching and helping more clients, while also imprinting on students the importance of pro bono work as a core part of a lawyer’s practice.
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