BY SANDEE MAGLIOZZI, ASSOCIATE CLINICAL PROFESSOR AND DIRECTOR OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND EXTERNSHIPS
A LEADER IN
The current changes taking place in law practice are transforming the way we must bridge the gap between law school and practice. A simple question of transition has become an imperative to add value. We have all seen the articles and heard the call for “practiceready” law graduates. Today’s law graduate needs to “think like a lawyer” and have a foundation of substantive law that allows him or her to place new knowledge in context. But they also need the non-legal understanding to see an issue from a client’s perspective and a set of core competencies they can use to help solve a client’s problem.
Savvy law schools understand that their students need a broad array of lawyer competencies—knowledge, skills, and values—when they enter practice to serve their clients and the public interest. Santa Clara Law has long recognized that classes and casebooks alone do not transform students into lawyers. We offer a wide range of hands-on experiential learning opportunities to enable our students to develop crucial lawyering skills and integrate practical experience with substantive law knowledge. Experiential learning allows students to deepen their understanding of how the law and legal institutions operate, explore possible career options, and gain many of the lawyering skills and benchmark experiences they will need to meet the challenges of practice.
OUR EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
Santa Clara experiential learning opportunities include clinics, externships, pro bono opportunities, moot court competitions and a rich diversity of practical skill simulation courses. Simulation courses include topics such as interviewing and counseling, negotiations, technology licensing, trial techniques and many more. These courses provide students with an opportunity to learn valuable professional skills and values in hypothetical situations developed by their faculty. Simulation courses offer a safe environment where students can experiment and practice before launching into a clinic with real clients or the real-life practice setting of externships.
Santa Clara Law understands the need for real world experience and to continue expanding the opportunities for meaningful connections between legal education and law practice. The law school recently added two new clinics—the International Human Rights Clinic and the Low-Income Taxpayers Clinic—to its already existing clinics—the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center and the Northern California Innocence Project. Our clinics give students the opportunity to learn through the direct experience of lawyering. Students typically form relationships directly with clients and work under the supervision of a practicing attorney and/or faculty member. Students develop professionally while serving individuals in need with competence, conscience, and compassion.
SANTA CLARA LAW CLINICS
“Santa Clara Law offered me great classes with amazing professors, and it also prepared me for the real world with practical experience through clinics and externships. SCU’s location enables hands-on experience in local high tech companies, and opportunities to work with state and federal judges. The Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center offered me the opportunity to help others and learn through working in clinics such as consumer protection and employee rights. Santa Clara is unique in that it creates practice-ready attorneys.”
LUCI BUDA ’12
OUR EXTERNSHIP PROGRAM
Our Externship program has also grown over the past few years. We provide 225 to 250 domestic field-placements a year, and an additional 100 international field-placements through our Center for Global Law and Policy. Externships allow students to engage in actual legal work in the Bay Area and beyond. Students work with a judge or court, a nonprofit organization, a government agency, a law firm, or an in-house legal department. Externships provide a diversity of practical experiences and a wide range of work assignments that give students exposure to practice areas that interest them.
At Santa Clara Law, the vision for our externship programs is to help students gain the benchmark experiences and skills they need to bridge the gap to law practice. Each student works outside the law school and is paired with an experienced practicing attorney, often a fellow Santa Clara Law graduate, who provides supervision, one-on-one instruction, feedback, and evaluation. The student also participates in a faculty-taught concurrent course component. Externs integrate and assimilate the skills learned in the classroom with those acquired in a specialized law placement. Externships allow students to contextualize their knowledge and skills with real world experience, ensuring a high-quality learning experience.
OUR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK
The professional development framework first requires students to understand the skills they will need to succeed as lawyers. There are many ways to organize these skills, and few law school or law firm lists look the same. But there is tremendous overlap, and most would agree on the recurring themes. In the current professional development framework, we have divided the skills into three broad categories: substantive legal skills, including law knowledge, law application, and law expression; practice skills, such as problem solving, practical judgment, and influence and advocacy; and professional skills (sometimes called critical “soft skills”), including professionalism, ethics, leadership, client service, business acumen, and professional development.
Next in the professional development framework, we work with students to assess the skills they have, and identify the skills they need and how to develop those specific skills. We provide students with tools for skills assessment, identifying experience benchmarks, self-evaluation, and reflective lawyering. We then help them create a professional development plan. The plan focuses on a S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound) objective model for helping students ensure they move forward. They are asked to set concrete, specific learning objectives that can be achieved within the context and time of their externship, as well as to set goals for the future.
The final step of the framework for students is to become more self-directed with a goal toward lifelong learning. We help students understand all the methods available for developing these skills now and throughout their careers: courses and workshops, work experience and assignments, evaluation and feedback, coaching and mentoring, and self-study. To the extent possible, we identify for students the many opportunities within the law school that are available. But we also recognize the reallife experience necessary to acquire and hone the skills they will need for practice. That experience would not be possible without the alumni and community support our students receive, and for that we are eternally grateful.
GIVING LAWYERS PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE
“Global companies such as eBay look for lawyers with practical experience and a firm understanding of international legal principles. Santa Clara’s overseas legal internships offer students an unparalleled experience, gaining both practical experience at a firm or in-house in a global setting. Personally, my experience with SCU’s Japan program focused me on intellectual property law, and my internship at Honda’s head office in Tokyo helped pave my road to eBay Inc.”
SCOTT SHIPMAN ’99, ASSOCIATE GENERAL COUNSEL,