June 5, 2013—This fall the University of Denver Sturm College of Law will launch its new Experiential Advantage Curriculum, which will allow students to spend a full year of their law school career in real or simulated practice settings. By the time they graduate, students will have a year's worth of legal practice experience.
"Denver Law is committed to creating practice-ready law school graduates," says Denver Law Dean Martin Katz. "This is a major milestone in achieving that goal."
The Sturm College of Law has long been recognized as a pioneer in experiential learning, opening the nation's first law school clinic in 1904. The school was cited in 2012 by U.S. News & World Report Magazine as one of three law schools demonstrating "best practices" in the field.
The new Experiential Advantage Curriculum combines live client clinics, high-quality externships– including a new Semester in Practice Externship– and legal simulation courses. Among the simulation courses are the Carnegie Integrated Courses, also new, which provide training in doctrine, written and oral skills, and emphasize the development of professional identity.
Students who opt into the program will take 24 credit hours of experiential learning courses in their second and third years in addition to their 6 credit first-year Lawyering Process course. The result is that at least a third of their three-year law school career will consist of experiential learning opportunities.
"Experiential courses put our students in the shoes of practicing lawyers in real and simulated legal matters," says Professor Roberto Corrada, the Mulligan Chair of Modern Learning at Denver Law. "Getting to do this for a full year during law school, guided by expert professors and mentors, provides unparalleled opportunities for our students to develop as lawyers."
"Employers have told us repeatedly that they are looking for graduates with real or simulated practice experience, and the skills and perspective that come from such experience," says Dean Katz. "We believe that the Experiential Advantage Curriculum will provide our graduates with a significant advantage in the job market."
The Experiential Advantage Curriculum will be available to all Denver Law students arriving in the fall of 2013 or later. While the program is optional, all Denver Law students are required to take at least one experiential learning course during their second or third year. More information on the Experiential Advantage Curriculum can be found at the Sturm College of Law's website: www.law.du.edu/experiential-advantage.
The program marks the fulfillment of one of the most important goals in Denver Law's strategic plan, notes Dean Katz. The plan called for the school to build sufficient curricular capacity to offer students an all-experiential year as part of its Modern Learning Initiative.
Denver Law also is looking into the possibility of creating an Experiential Advantage certificate, which would formally distinguish graduates who undertook a year of experiential learning while still in law school.
Denver Law is an active participant in "Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers" (ETL), an initiative of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver. ETL is dedicated to facilitating and supporting experiential learning in law schools to create excellent, practice-ready lawyers. A total of 28 law schools with a shared focus on experiential learning are members of ETL's consortium.