Fundamentals of Law Practice
Student Comments from Prior Semesters
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 meeting 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 the Superior Court of Cobb County. 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 permission 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 completion of the on-line application is required for registration.
Class for Fall 2019 is scheduled Wednesday evenings from 6:00-8:45 pm. Each student team will be assigned a civil domestic violence (DV) case and will prepare to conduct an evidentiary hearing in Cobb County Superior Court on behalf of the victim to obtain a 12 month order of protection. The court currently schedules all domestic violence cases on Tuesday; most cases are completed by 1pm but some cases are continued into Tuesday afternoon. Before being assigned a DV case, students are required to observe court hearings on two Tuesdays and complete a written analysis of the cases observed. The two court observation days will begin Tuesday mornings at 8:50 am and typically conclude by 12:00 pm. Preparation for the team’s domestic violence hearing typically takes places over the two week period preceding the hearing date. Professors will dedicate significant class time to domestic violence training workshops during the first four weeks of classes. Guest speakers will be invited throughout the semester, as indicated by the syllabus.
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 Georgia Student Practice Rules, adopted by the Georgia Supreme Court, students are 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 addresses the following four topics, with reference to specific examples and quotations drawn from the fieldwork.
1. An engaging description of the attorney and the attorney’s practice.
2. An account of what the attorney finds satisfying and meaningful in his or her practice.
3. Information about the business model of the law firm.
4. Analysis of the kinds of knowledge, skills, and professional qualities a law student should aim to acquire to prepare for entry into a practice like what the student has observed.
The student is required to schedule at least the following interactions with the field placement attorney:
a. An initial meeting to plan the fieldwork;
b. An in-depth interview (which may be combined with the initial meeting);
b. At least two observations of the attorney's 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 (www.goclio.com) 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 be graded based on their competent and thorough use of the software and the diligence of their course work as recorded in Clio.
No books are required for purchase.
|Clark D. Cunningham (Spring17)
W. Lee Burge Chair in Law & Ethics
Office: Law School 210
Phone: (404) 413-9168
Fax: (404) 413-9225
Faculty Assistant: Karen P. Butler
Room 202 (404) 413-9082 firstname.lastname@example.org
|Tiffany Williams Roberts, Deputy Director(Fall19)
National Institute for Teaching Ethics & Professionalism (NIFTEP)
Office: Law School 487
Phone: (404) 413-9178
Law Firm Website: www.tiffanywroberts.com