Playing Doctor, Playing Lawyer: Interdisciplinary Simulations
32 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2005
Date Written: January 30, 2006
Law students rarely have the opportunity to interact with other professionals - doctors, business people, social workers, actors or engineers, for example - during law school. While legal problems are ubiquitous in the lives of many professionals, there is little in most professional or graduate education programs to prepare students to work effectively with a lawyer or to engage across disciplinary lines when facing legal issues. Consequently, when professionals, complete their educations and move into practice, they can encounter a type of culture shock when they must interact with other professionals around client-centered issues, in consultations, lawsuits, administrative hearings and other settings. We have introduced two interdisciplinary innovations into our skills training courses: first, using the university's Ph.D. program in Theatre as a resource for enriching the communication skills of our students and, second, collaborating with other graduate and professional programs in role-playing simulation exercises in which our students serve as lawyers representing (or interviewing) students from the other programs, each representing a professional in his or her own discipline. We believe that the richness of the fact situations and the interactions with differently-trained professionals improves the acquisition of fundamental skills. The paper discusses our program, what works well and what we hope to improve.
Keywords: counseling and interviewing, elder law, interdisciplinary education, law and medicine, legal education, simulations
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