The Lawyering Skills Program is a skills training center in the Law School. The Program offers courses that teach core lawyering skills in a learning-by-doing class format. The spring 11-week touchstone course, known as the Lawyering Skills Course, teaches law practice through simulations in which each student has ample opportunities to practice such fundamental lawyering skills as negotiation, oral advocacy, and communication, interviewing and counseling, drafting and problem solving. Other skills courses, Negotiation and Oral Communication are offered through the Lawyering Skills Program.
Courses Offered Through the Lawyering Skills Program
The Lawyering Skills Course
The Lawyering Skills Course teaches law practice through simulations in which each student has opportunities to practice such fundamental lawyering skills as negotiation, oral advocacy and communication, interviewing and counseling, drafting and problem solving. Students also examine how practicing lawyers address difficult ethical and professional problems, manage their practices, and balance their professional and personal lives.
In addition to nine substantive segments of the course and a variety of workshops, the course includes a Skills Intensive Training Week. Over thirty lawyers participate as faculty in a two-day exercise in which students represent clients on both sides of a comprehensive legal transaction. Skills Week allows students to practice the skills they have learned throughout the course and receive individualized feedback from different practitioners on their performance. (For additional information, check out the Lawyering Skills Course Student Handbook.
Classes meet from 12:25 - 3:25 PM on designated days and students complete two written assignments each week. The course is 7 credits with an additional 1 credit for those students enrolled in the Advanced Legal Writing component. It is offered only in the spring semester, and is open to 2nd and 3rd year law students. Enrollment is limited.
A unique feature of the Lawyering Skills Course is that it is taught by a faculty of approximately 80 practicing lawyers and other professionals who are selected not only for their professional reputation and accomplishment, but also to reflect the diversity of the legal profession.
Teams of practitioners teach each of nine weekly segments in both large group and small group classes. The practitioners lead class discussions, demonstrate practice situations, share experiences and perspectives, evaluate student work, and serve as resources for student questions about the "nuts and bolts" of law practice and a legal career.
The course is led by two law school faculty members. Ralph Cagle, Course Director, and Gretchen Viney, Associate Director, develop the overall curriculum, recruit and train the faculty, coordinate instruction, teach individual skills workshops, and monitor the development of each student. Both professors have extensive law practice experience, are active in bar activities related to improving the legal profession, and frequently teach continuing education programs for lawyers and other professionals.
Fall and Spring Semester Lawyering Skills Program Course Offerings
The Lawyering Skills Program offers a variety of courses that teach core lawyering skills in a learning-by-doing class format, including:
(Cagle, 2 cr. Fall Semester)
Get hands-on experience and individually critiqued training in planning, executing and learning from deal-making and conflict resolution negotiations. Learn to conduct and represent clients in mediation.
Client Interviewing and Counseling
(Viney, 2 cr. Fall Semester)
Discover how lawyers interact with clients, accurately identify their legal needs, and assist them in effective decision-making.
Lawyers As Community Leaders
(Behnke, Cagle, Krueger, 2 cr. Fall Semester)
Examine how lawyers best provide community leadership through understanding how communities organize themselves and engage lawyers, leadership application in community settings, and develop skills, knowledge and perspectives for community leadership opportunities.
Introduction to the Legal Profession
(Cagle, 3 cr. Fall Semester)
Learn the practical, structural and ethical dimensions of how the legal profession operates including the professional and personal choices lawyers regularly face. (Satisfies Professional Responsibilities requirement.)
Lincoln and the Law
(Cagle, 2 cr. Fall Semester)
Examine Abraham Lincoln's law practice, selected legal issues in his political career and presidency and how his legal experience affected his thinking, rhetoric and leadership style. Draw insights into lawyering today from the experiences of Abraham Lincoln and his legal and political contemporaries. (Satisfies Legal Process requirement.)
(Cagle, Plum, Peterson, 1 cr. Fall/Spring Semester)
Learn and practice the strategies and techniques of effective oral communication in many settings in which you will be called on to speak as a lawyer. The course is taught by experienced lawyer-communicators and uses a learning-by-doing model. Each student has the opportunity to hone his or her skills by making increasingly complex oral presentations. First the in-class faculty critiques the student presentation, with helpful suggestions for improvement. Then the student goes to video review where he or she works with a second faculty member in a one-on-one critique of the in-class presentation. By this method of double instruction and personal attention students improve their oral communication skills, leaving the course equipped to communicate effectively, confidently and persuasively with clients, colleagues, associates, and judges.
The Lawyering Skills Program sponsors a summer clerkship opportunity, placing up to five UW law students in summer clerkship positions with selected law firms in small-to-mid-sized Wisconsin communities. Through these placements, students gain practical skills and experience while living and working in typical but non-metropolitan Wisconsin communities.
This placement is open to all 2L's. Students selected for placement must complete the 7-credit Lawyering Skills Course during the Spring semester.