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Submitted by Clark Cunningham on Tue, 05-16-2017
Long title
Transition to Practice Course - Georgia State University
Teacher(s)/ Author(s)
Cunningham, Clark
Roberts, Tiffany
Gaffney, Kate
Teacher(s)'/ Author(s)' contact information
United States
This course provides an accelerated transition to practice for law students in the midpoint of their law school experience by teaching fundamental knowledge, skills and values needed to begin a legal career in a wide variety of settings. Students 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 Superior Court.
Students 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. Students become competent in interpreting and applying the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct in real-life situations and understanding the attorney discipline system in Georgia as well as basic common law principles arising from malpractice and attorney disqualification decisions
The course has four inter-related components:
1) Client Representation Case Work: Under the supervision of the course instructors, students represent persons seeking Orders of Protection against domestic violence. Every student has at least two cases during the semester. Each case is a very short-term but intensive clinical experience typically lasting less than 2 weeks from initial client interview to court hearing.
2) Fieldwork: Each student conducts fieldwork with a private attorney working in a field of interest to the student. The student conducts an initial interview and then observes the attorney in practice on at least two occasions. This is fieldwork, not an externship, and the student does not do work for the attorney. Students write a report in which the student provides a description of the realities of the fieldwork attorney's practice and answers the following questions, with reference to specific examples and quotations drawn from the field work:
1. What is it like to manage a law practice?
2. What is required to start and sustain a law practice?
3. What knowledge, skills, and professional qualities should a law student aim to acquire for managing a law practice?
4. How can law school better assist law students to acquire such knowledge, skills and professional qualities?
3) Professional Responsibility: Students take this course instead of a section of Professional Responsibility. Students learn how the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct apply in in real life, drawing from observation of the fieldwork attorney's practice and from their domestic violence client representation as well as the experience of their classmates. Domestic violence cases are planned, analyzed and debriefed in class.
4) Course Portfolio: Students have free access to a leading, web-based practice 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 client representation work. Students are graded based on their competent and thorough use of the software and the diligence of their course work as recorded in Clio.
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