About General Practice

General practitioners handle a wide variety of legal problems in large cities, suburban towns, and in rural communities. They may assist small and mid-size businesses with issues of incorporation, contracts, tax matters, employment law, and collections issues, as well as provide special counsel to large businesses. They may serve as the family lawyer for individuals by drafting wills and setting up estate plans; handling tax matters; dealing with divorces, child custody and other family law issues; conducting real estate closings; and providing representation in personal injury or employment law matters.

Most general practitioners work in small practices (five or fewer lawyers) or by themselves. They must have a working knowledge of many different practice areas and must be able to develop a client base, run a small business, and keep up to date on changes to the law. Often they have a well-developed network of more experienced or specialized attorneys to turn to for advice. Small firm practitioners are involved in every aspect of firm management and this can be difficult for some lawyers. Others thrive and have the satisfaction of being completely responsible for their own businesses, of establishing their own work hours and lifestyle, and of working closely with their clients on a daily basis.

Students interested in general practice should select courses that give them a broad legal education in basic subject matters and skills.

Courses

Note: Whether a particular course is scheduled depends on faculty availability and student demand.

Core/Foundation Course

A student interested in this specialty should take:

Recommended Courses

Students interested in this practice area should consider including one or more of the following courses as electives.

Enrichment  Courses

These courses deepen or broaden the skills and substantive information that a lawyer in this field needs and also provide advanced courses for students interested in a specialty within this area of practice.

Clinics, Internships, & Externships

The law school has a variety of opportunities that provide hands-on practice experience. 

  • Clinical Programs: Clinical students receive a rich educational experience, applying the legal theory they have learned in the classroom to help real people outside of the classroom. Any of these programs would be beneficial to the student interested in general practice.
  • Externships: Students receive course credit for working in an off-campus legal setting, such as a judge’s office or a state agency, under the supervision of an on-site attorney. Students gain professional lawyering skills and insights into various aspects of the legal system and profession and have opportunities to network. For more information, contact Externship Director Erin McBride at erin.mcbride@wisc.edu.

Faculty

Here are some of the full-time faculty who teach or have an interest in this subject area:

  • Gretchen Viney, Clinical Professor; Director, Lawyering Skills Program

In addition to our full-time faculty, the Law School's adjunct faculty members — prominent practicing lawyers and judges — bring their specialized knowledge and experience to the classroom. Filter by "Adjunct" in the Law School Directory for a full list.

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