Fundamentals of Law Practice

Law 7336/87910
4 credit hours
Open to all 2Ls and 3Ls
Application Required

Course Website:

Semester: Spring 2015
Day: Friday

Time: 9:00 am - 11:45 am

Student Comments from Prior Semesters
"This has been one of the most awesome experiences I have ever had. I have been on military combat training missions, and this class provides the same level of excitement."
"This will be one of the memorable classes of all time."
"One of the most valuable things that I have received educationally in law school."
"The practical experience is what I wanted ... and it was exactly what I received."

"Overall a great experience. I would definitely recommend it, and in fact already have."
"What makes this class so great is that you're doing REAL work -- helping real people with real problems."
"The practical aspect of this course is amazing."
"I saw a new vision for what being a practicing lawyer can be."
"Fieldwork observation was awesome."
"I would MOST CERTAINLY recommend this course to others. I cannot explain how valuable this course is !!!!!!!!"

Clark D. Cunningham
W. Lee Burge Professor of Law & Ethics
Tiffany Williams Roberts
Adjunct Professor of Law
and Deputy Director,
National Institute for Teaching Ethics & Professionalism
Last updated April 17, 2015
Copyright © 2015


In place of this course, a new course called Transition to Practice is being offered in Fall 2015.

Course Description

Students learn about the fundamentals of legal practice through engaging in real-life client representation, observing the work of a solo or small firm practitioner (the "fieldwork attorney"), and simulating the case management activities of a small firm. This course does not count against the credit hour caps for either externship or clinic courses. This is a limited enrollment course and permission of the instructors, based on the application, is required for registration.

The course grade is calculated as follows:30% Fieldwork Report, 40% Course Portfolio (including class participation), 30% client representation case work.

Client Representation Case Work: Students will work in teams of two (or sometimes more) representing persons seeking Orders of Protection against domestic violence from the Cobb County Superior Court, located in downtown Marietta; court hearings take place on Friday mornings. 3L students will be certified for courtroom practice to have the opportunity to conduct direct and cross examinations and closing arguments. 2L students may take the lead for their team in interviewing clients and witnesses, conducting factual investigation, and negotiating with the opposing party. Student performance will be evaluated against the requirements of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct and as to students' effective use of case management practices in the conducting of their case. This is intended to be a very short-term but intensive clinical experience typically lasting less than 2 weeks from initial client interview to court hearing. Students must be available for a minimum four hour block of time between 9am and 7pm for two weeks in a row on either Tuesday or Wednesday to work with their team and supervising professor to prepare for their domestic violence court hearing and will be required to identify two different possible time blocks on their application for the course.

Fieldwork Requirement: The major writing assignment in this course is a report in which the student provides a description of the realities of the fieldwork attorney's practice and answer the following questions, with reference to specific examples and quotations drawn from the field work:

1. What is it like to be a solo practitioner or a member of a small firm?
2. What is required to start and sustain a small firm or solo practice?
3. What knowledge, skills, and professional qualities should a law student aim to acquire to prepare for entry into small firm or solo practice?
4. How can law school better assist law students to acquire such knowledge, skills and professional qualities?

The student is required to schedule at least the following interactions with the field placement attorney:
a. An initial in-person interview;
b. At least one follow up visit during which the student observes the attorney at work; and
c. Attorney review of and feedback on an initial and any subsequent report drafts.

The instructors are responsible for arranging the fieldwork placement and will endeavor to place the student with an attorney in a practice area of interest to the student. Students should NOT attempt to arrange their own placement in advance, although students are invited to submit names of possible placement attorneys. The fieldwork placement cannot be with a current or past employer or a family member.

Course Portfolio: Students will have free access to a leading, web-based case management software called Clio ( and are required to use this software throughout the semester to record all the time expended for the course and to use the other features of the software for time and task management for their fieldwork and case work. Students will compile a printed portfolio of all their work in the course from the Clio data base (excluding their client representation case work, which is separately evaluated) and be graded based on their competent and thorough use of the software and the diligence of their course work as recorded in Clio.

Required Materials

No books are required for purchase.

The following materials will be distributed at no cost:
Robert C. Smith, Patient-Centered Interviewing: An Evidence-Based Method
(reserve copy to be returned at end of course)
Law Practice Management (State Bar of Georgia)
Materials on Georgia Legal Ethics
Domestic Violence Manual

General Information


Clark D. Cunningham
Office: Law School 442
Phone: (404) 413-9168
Fax: (404) 413-9225
Faculty Assistant: Karen P. Butler
    Room 402   (404) 413-9082
Tiffany Williams Roberts , Deputy Director
National Institute for Teaching Ethics & Professionalism (NIFTEP)
Office: Law School 462

Phone: (404) 413-9178
Law Firm Website: