Fundamentals of Law Practice
Student Comments from Prior Semesters
Clark D. Cunningham
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: 40% Fieldwork Report, 30% 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. Eligible students will be certified for courtroom practice to have the opportunity to conduct direct and cross examinations and closing arguments. Although currently only 3L students are eligible for student practice certification, the Georgia Bar Examiners are currently considering a rule change to allow second year student practice also. Students not eligible for student practice certification 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 (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 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.
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
|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 firstname.lastname@example.org
|Tiffany Williams Roberts , Deputy Director
National Institute for Teaching Ethics & Professionalism (NIFTEP)
Office: Law School 462
Phone: (404) 413-9178
Law Firm Website: www.tiffanywroberts.com