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Whittier Law School Named Sixth Most Innovative Law School

Whittier Law School Named
Sixth Most Innovative Law School

National Jurist Cover, September 2013

New Curriculum Gains National Recognition for Teaching Practical Skills
The National Jurist magazine has named Whittier Law School #6 on a list of 15 Most Innovative Law Schools in the Nation, due to our new Experience the Law curriculum.

In addition, Whittier Law School is highlighted in this month's preLaw Magazine. In an article titled "25 Most Innovative Law School Ideas," Whittier Law School's curriculum is listed as #7, and our Lawyering Skills Institute is listed as #8. We are gaining national attention for our innovative curriculum that gives students practical training.

"A revolution is taking place in legal education," says Martin Pritikin, Associate Dean of Experiential Learning at Whittier Law School. "Law schools are shifting towards 'experiential' learning, and we are at the forefront of that revolution."

New Curriculum Integrates Experiential Learning
Whittier Law School has just approved an innovative new curriculum called "Experience the Law" in which students develop practical skills integrated with legal knowledge starting from the first day of law school. In fact, 29 units - more than half of the curriculum's 56 required units - will integrate experiential learning. Students also may take additional experiential courses to satisfy the 89 units required for graduation. A pilot version of the program will begin in 2013-2014, with full implementation in fall 2014.

"Whittier Law School's program is unique," says Pritikin. "While other schools offer experiential learning in the second or third year, we begin their first year of law school. In addition, we integrate experiential learning into the classroom, so students learn concepts and then immediately put them into practice. While many schools rely on clinics or externships for experiential learning, we provide a more comprehensive approach."

One example of this new approach is the year-long Civil Procedure course, which will be taught in the context of a litigated case. Students learn the concepts and then apply them to the case to see how the laws work in the real world.

Whittier Law School is also acting ahead of the State Bar of California, which has proposed new bar admission requirements that include a significant practical skills component. Whittier Law's new curriculum exceeds the requirement that California is expected to adopt in 2017.

Courtroom to Play Key Role
Whittier Law School recently finished construction on a state-of-the-art courtroom, the new Kiesel Advocacy Center. It was opened to the public in April, with a ceremony attended by the Hon. Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California. This courtroom will play a key role in the Experience the Law curriculum, providing a forum for students to gain experience by training as advocates, observing public trials, and competing in trial and moot court competitions.

Lawyering Skills Institute Debuts
The Institute for Writing and Professional Skills has always been one of Whittier Law School's most highly regarded programs, but it's taking an even greater role in the new curriculum. The program has been renamed the Lawyering Skills Institute, and the curriculum goes even further in providing practical skills training. Two more units will be required as part of the three-year curriculum.

"Our top priority is to graduate students who are fully prepared with the knowledge, skills and professionalism needed to successfully practice law," says Penelope Bryan, Dean of Whittier Law School. "Our Experience the Law curriculum gives our students three full years of experience that will differentiate them in the profession."