Fundamentals of Law Practice

Law 7336/87910
4 credit hours
Open to all 2Ls and 3Ls
Limited enrollment
Application required

Course Website:

Semester: Spring 2017
Tues/Thurs 9am - 2pm
Not offered Fall 2016 or Fall 2017

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 July 12, 2016
Copyright © 2016

Spring 2015 Syllabus

Apply NOW for Spring 2017


Course Description

This course provides an accelerated transition to practice for law students by teaching fundamental knowledge, skills and values needed to begin a legal career in a wide variety of settings. Students will learn how to handle a case from initial client ameeting through conclusion of representation, first with a simulated case using on-line practice management software and in-class role plays, and then by representing actual domestic violence victims to obtain orders of protection in Superior Court. Students will also learn about managing a law firm through both classroom instruction and fieldwork with a private attorney working in a practice area of interest to them. For an account of how this course was originally developed: Charlotte S. Alexander, Learning to be Lawyers: Professional Identity and the Law School Curriculum, 70 Maryland Law Review 462 (2011) (excerpts) (full article)

This is a graded course and does not count against credit hour caps for either externship or clinic courses.
Subject to permisson of the clinic or externship teacher, students may take this course as well as a clinic or externship. This is a limited enrollment course and permission of the instructors, based on the application, is required for registration. Priority will be given to students who complete the on-line application and submit a resume and unofficial law school transcript no later than Friday, September 16, 2016.

Class is scheduled two days per week: Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 am - 2:00 pm. This schedule is designed around the Cobb County Superior Court weekly docket for domestic violence cases, which currently are heard every Tuesday; some Thursday classes will be used for field trips and guest luncheon speakers in Cobb County as well as case preparation.

The course grade is calculated as follows: 30% Fieldwork Report, 40% Course Portfolio (including class participation), 30% client representation case work. There is no final exam..

Client Representation Case Work: Under the supervision of the course instructors, students will represent persons seeking Orders of Protection against domestic violence from the Cobb County Superior Court, located in downtown Marietta. Under the new Student Practice Rule, adopted by the Georgia Supreme Court on March 12, 2015, students are now eligible tor all forms of supervised student practice, including appearing in court, after completing two semesters (or the part-time equivalent). 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. Each case is a very short-term but intensive clinical experience typically lasting less than 2 weeks from initial client interview to court hearing. Students may need to conduct client meetings, team meetings, fact investigation and other case-related tasks outside of the scheduled class times for this course and will need to adjust non-law school related responsibilities to meet these obligations which may require work over the weekend preceding their court hearing.

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 two follow up visits 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.

General Information


Clark D. Cunningham
Office: Law School 210
Phone: (404) 413-9168
Fax: (404) 413-9225
Faculty Assistant: Karen P. Butler
    Room 202   (404) 413-9082
Tiffany Williams Roberts , Deputy Director
National Institute for Teaching Ethics & Professionalism (NIFTEP)
Office: Law School 487

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