Preparing One L's for Academic, Professional Success

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

TU revamps Foundations of Legal Study course to enhance the experience for incoming first-year law students.

Janet Levit, Dean and Dean John Rogers Chair of the TU College of Law, recently told first-year students of numerous ways TU could help prepare them for their career, but cautioned that they must be the architects of their own development.

“Your job for the next three years is to build the strongest case for why the employer of your choice should hire you once you earn your degree and pass the bar,” Levit told the students. “Your options upon graduation depend on what you put into law school, and your professional development starts today.” 

Levit addressed this year’s incoming first-year students during the Foundations of Legal Study, a four-day program designed to prepare new law students for academic and professional success.

To better prepare students, the law school this year revamped its FLS program. Initially just a research and writing primer, FLS is now a richer, more wide-ranging experience. In addition to social activities with professors and alumni, some other of this year’s FLS activities included:

  • Attending courtroom proceedings at federal and state courthouses, where students were able to interact with judges.
  • A trip to the Tulsa County Bar Center to meet with past and current presidents of the Tulsa County Bar Association.
  • TU law alumna Vicky Hildebrand (JD ’91) facilitated a discussion with students about the issues related to the legal case of Ron Williamson, who was featured in John Grisham's non-fiction work, The Innocent Man. Hildebrand was a federal law clerk in the Eastern District of Oklahoma in Judge Frank Seay’s office when the judge ordered a new trial for Williamson. The students were required to read Grisham's book in preparation for the talk.
  • A public service project where students volunteered at 12 local non profit organizations.
  • Instruction on law school policies, note taking, professional dress and etiquette, case briefing and research.

In her FLS address, Levit cited myriad opportunities available to students to enhance their TU experience: classes taught by talented faculty; an academic support program to ease the transition to law school; an experiential learning program that offers a legal clinic in which to represent clients or opportunities to intern for a judge; a professional development office that will help market students in a competitive legal environment; law reviews; moot court competitions; Board of Advocates; alumni networking and mentoring opportunities; and the invaluable opportunity to learn from talented classmates.

“All of these opportunities, in and out of the classroom, are yours for the taking,” Levit said. “You must embrace all that we offer. Will you be the student who embraces all that TU offers or the student who goes through the motions with the sole goal of earning a degree? The choice is yours and yours alone.”

Supporting Levit’s comments, a recent study published in the Wall Street Journal and the American Bar Association Journal concluded that law school performance in the classroom, legal clinics, internships, law review and moot court are the most reliable indicators of professional legal success.

Levit told the story of a TU law student who took advantage of the opportunity to attend an American Bar Association “boot camp” with judges. He secured his spot on the basis of good grades and strong faculty recommendations. Through meeting with a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (which conducts Bosnian war crime trials), the student secured places for two TU law students to attend a workshop at the Tribunal in the Hague.

“In attending this workshop, our students not only gained a meaningful credential but also established a network of professionals who are now offering assistance in securing internships for next summer, which can be critical for securing a post-graduation job,” Levit said.

Scott Been, Marketing Specialist