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Putting Theory Into Practice – Advice from Joshua Wilkinson, Admissions Counselor

environmental lawYou obtained that elusive J.D. and studied hard for the Bar Exam – but once you meet with your first client, all of that legal knowledge and heightened sense of what makes a persuasive written argument suddenly becomes insignificant. When you find yourself face to face with a live person and you have to deal with them, you realize that no amount of case briefing or essays written in CRAC format can prepare you for this moment. So how do you interview clients? How do you write a contract? What does it take to mediate between parties?

Fortunately, Widener Law offers a robust menu of courses that focuses on the basic, pragmatic skills of lawyering that can easily be overlooked as one prepares for the practice of law. Classes such as Interviewing & Counseling help student develop the skills necessary to meet and greet clients through sheer practice and role play.

Negotiation & Mediation: Theory and Practice is another class that teaches how to navigate client relations, and reinforces its lessons through simulation exercises. These simulations are also analyzed by peers to help inform the student about how effective their mediation techniques are.

Law school is already great for preparing students to tailor their writing to a variety of situations, but Widener Law also offers classes that focuses on how to write for specific instances. For instance, Legal Methods III – Contract Drafting provides students with the opportunity to learn the basic principles of contract drafting, interpretation, and negotiation.

Are you interested in helping shape the future of our public policies? Legislation is a class that explains the processes by which legislation is passed, enforced, and interpreted, while Administrative Law teaches how this country’s various administrative agencies function and make decisions.

law 097As far as preparing students for the nitty gritty details of lawyering, perhaps nothing can come close to participating in one of our Civil Clinics. Here, students have the opportunity to represent real clients with real legal problems while under the supervision of experienced attorneys. In the clinic, students will interview and counsel clients, frame legal issues in cases, draft pleadings and litigate (under the third year law student practice rule). I’m not sure there is a better way to make a difference in your community while pursuing your J.D. than the clinics!

Students love that we offer opportunities for hands-on training, as a recent survey based on the Classes of 2011 and 2012 showed that Widener Law students take an average of 2.5 skills-based courses before graduation. Which ones are right for you largely depends on which path you choose to take. How can we help you along your path?

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