Upper Level Lawyering Skills

Lawyering skills in Practice Externship

Practice Externships offer opportunities to meet the requirements of Academic Rule 7A, which requires each student to complete an Upper Level Lawyering Skills course. Note that the Lawyering Skills rule applies to students who began their law study after June 2007; skills designation for Practice Externships will be developed during the 2008-2009 school year and be effective for externships beginning in Summer 2009.

Lawyering skills courses provide "instruction in a variety of lawyering skills that are generally regarded as necessary for effective and responsible participation in the legal profession." Many of these skills are performable by individual students, such as interviewing, counseling, negotiation, alternative dispute resolution, legislative and other legal drafting, trial and appellate advocacy and trial and pre-trial practice. Others are more contextual or pervasive practice competencies, such as strategic decisionmaking and problem-solving.

To comply with Rule 7A, skills instruction in Practice Externship will provide either "repeat opportunities for individual performance by each student of one or more lawyering skills with individualized feedback from the instructor; or... individual performance by each student of a series of lawyering skills as part of a sequential lawyering experience, with one or more such performances receiving individualized feedback from the instructor." Among other skills, Practice Externship provides particularly significant opportunities for contextual lawyer competencies, such as problem-solving and case planning. These will also be designated as lawyering skills, forplacements that provide opportunities for immersion by the student in the context of decisionmaking and problem-solving collaboratively with attorneys. Skill performance and feedback will be evidenced by journal entries and appropriate evaluation by the supervising attorney.

Note to students: To be sure that you get credit for Lawyering Skills...

  1. A plan for skills instruction should be reflected in the Learning Goals statements agreed to by student and supervisor at the beginning of the externship. Student and supervisor will make every effort to identify the competencies that will be emphasized, however they are encouraged to take advantage of additional opportunities that arise. Note that the placement descriptions on the Externship webpage are being updated during 2008-2009 to specify skills and writing opportunities, however, you are not limited to these named skills.
  2. Comments about student efforts and progress in developing skills should be included in the supervisor's Evaluation of the student completed by the supervisor and reviewed with the student at the conclusion of the externship.
  3. Student's self-evaluation of the externship experience, usually written as one of the final journal entries of the term, should reflect on the student’s exposure to and personal development of lawyering skills.