For more than three decades, NYU School of Law has been preparing students for the practice of law by using a coordinated three-year program of sequenced learning that makes extensive use of simulations and clinics. NYU has 35 clinics that cover a wide range of types of practice in the U.S. and abroad. The Carnegie Report, which described NYU’s model in detail as a model of "integrating theory and practice," said that NYU's multi-tiered program of experiential education "exemplif[ies] . . . ongoing efforts to bring the three aspects of legal apprenticeship [cognitive, practical, and ethical] into active relation" by linking "doctrinal, lawyering, and clinical courses . . . in a variety of intentional ways." William M. Sullivan, Anne Colby, Judith Welch Wegner, Lloyd Bond & Lee S. Shulman, Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law 38-43, 197 (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching 2007).
NYU's program of sequenced experiential education begins with the first-year Lawyering Program, which all students take throughout their first year of law school, and which introduces them to a theory of legal problem-solving and uses a series of simulation exercises to teach fundamental lawyering skills, the cognitive processes that underlie them, and the values of the profession. Each simulation requires a student to work through the steps of a legal problem – understanding the question, preparing the task, executing the objective, and critiquing the process – and to analyze goals, facts, rules, and context. By integrating specific lawyering skills, a problem-solving cycle, and conceptual analysis, Lawyering broadens and deepens the student's understanding of legal concepts and doctrine, sharpens lawyering skills, and develops the thoughtful inquiry and self-evaluation critical to the theory and practice of law.
The law school's fieldwork clinics and simulation courses build on the Lawyering Program's basic instruction in systematic methods of reflecting upon and learning from one's own lawyering performances. Students are confronted with problem situations of the sort that lawyers encounter in practice; the problem situations are concrete, complex, and unrefined; students deal with the problems in role; and the students' performance of each activity is subjected to intensive, systematic critical review. The upper-level simulation courses and fieldwork clinics thus function together with Lawyering as a coordinated curriculum for developing the skill sets for effective legal problem-solving, conveying a sense of how lawyers might best do their work, and helping students develop the tools they need in order to continue their learning after graduation. The faculty-student ratio in simulation courses and clinics is extremely low in order to ensure students the intensive experience that these courses should deliver.
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Click here for more information about NYU's Lawyering Program.
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