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Learning to Be a Lawyer

David FeigeSMALL

Being a good lawyer requires not only possessing a knowledge of the law and knowing how to think like a lawyer, but equally important a knack for persuasion and advocacy – or the ability for doing the work of a lawyer. At Seton Hall Law, an expanded “skills” training program is designed to ensure graduates not only think but act like lawyers. “A lot of what lawyers do focuses on negotiating and being able to tell the stories of their clients persuasively,” notes Professor David Feige, Director of Seton Hall Law’s Advocacy Programs. “What we’re doing is supplementing the abstract with the more substantive by providing students with training in the practical skills of legal work.” To provide students with that kind of training, Seton Hall Law is developing a three-year set of offerings focused on the practice of law. “It’s the difference between learning bankruptcy law and being able to file a bankruptcy petition, or learning property law and knowing how to do a real estate closing,” explains Feige, a former Bronx public defender and author of Indefensible: One Lawyer’s Journey into the Inferno of American Justice. Partnering with Seton Hall Law in this effort are members of the legal profession and alumni who are providing their expertise and serving as adjunct faculty. Last fall, the Law School implemented the first of its updated skills courses, offering 24 sections of Persuasion and Advocacy. It is expected that by the end of 2009, the new skills curriculum will be entirely in place, with approximately 12 new course offerings. In addition to Persuasion and Advocacy, the courses will include:

  • Advanced Civil Practice

  • Advanced Criminal Practice

  • E-discovery

  • Depositions

  • Trial of a Civil Matter

  • Trial of a Criminal Action.

Also critically important is that students become familiar and comfortable with the technology they will face in practice. Included among the priorities of the Seton Hall Law Rising capital campaign is ensuring that students receive a comprehensive legal education and that the Law School is equipped with the technology to support that effort. “Our goal is for Seton Hall Law to turn out graduates who are genuinely prepared for the world outside law school,” says Feige.