Paul L. Caron

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tom Ulen's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: A 3L Capstone Course

Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question:  What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?

UlenThomas S. Ulen (Swanlund Chair, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Professor of Law, University of Illinois College of Law; Editor, Law & Econ Prof Blog)

I have tried to think of a change in legal education that is feasible, both politically and financially, but transformative. Here it is: create a required third-year capstone course in which the students would be divided into small groups of 10 – 20 to address all the legal and other dimensions of a model legal issue. The instructors, on whom there would be great demands both before and during the course, would design a complex, realistic problem that would call on the students to bring together all of their skills – negotiation, research, organization, substantive and procedural law, litigation management, client counseling, political sensitivity, and more.

Consider this example. The City of Sandifer has decided to build a new 40,000-seat stadium for the Sandifer Cougars, a reasonably successful Major League Baseball franchise. The student firm has been retained to counsel the City and the Cougars through the process of getting the stadium built. They must acquire a suitable piece of property for the new stadium. They must hire an architect to design the stadium and a prime contractor to build it. They must try to persuade the State government to subsidize the costs of the stadium and then help in preparing the bond issue that will be floated. There will be litigation about some matters, and there will be high political heat.

This intense exercise could bring together all the learning of the previous two years of law school and send the 3Ls into practice with some enthusiasm.

For all the posts in the series, see here.

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Tracked on Oct 6, 2007 9:44:00 PM



We have a meeting at Minnesota next week to start working on precisely that idea.

Posted by: Brett McDonnell | Oct 8, 2007 1:10:25 PM

Good idea. B-schools do this.

Posted by: Jake | Oct 4, 2007 7:16:24 PM