Legal Practica and Simulation Courses

John O. Sonsteng

Professor of Law

Jennifer Miller

Administrative Coordinator, Legal Practicum

Linda Thorstad

Administrative Coordinator, Business Practicum

 

Hands-on learning

William Mitchell’s legal practica and advanced simulation courses immerse students in the areas of general practice, business practice, and advocacy through innovative hands-on learning exercises pioneered by Mitchell faculty and staff. Students gain practical experience in the skills they will put to work as practicing attorneys.

The Legal Practicum: General Practice

The Legal Practicum: General Practice of Law course is designed to provide real-world, hands-on experience in matters involving the general practice of law. Through this course, participants resolve a number of legal issues–negotiating their client’s DWI charge in district court, arguing for or against an attorney’s disciplinary action at the Court of Appeals and conducting a full-day tort trial in front of a mock jury are just a few examples.

Participants receive feedback on their written work and on their oral presentations, allowing them to experiment with different methods and find what works best. In addition, participants apply theory to legal problem solving, address ethical problems, review theory and substance, work cooperatively with others, refresh and improve their writing and lawyering skills, and develop and improve their oral presentation skills.

The Legal Practicum: Business Practice

The Legal Practicum: Business Practice Course is designed to provide students real-world, hands-on training as they act as attorneys representing a client in business matters. During The Legal Practicum: Business Practice Course, student-attorneys resolve a number of business-related legal issues for a single client, from developing plans addressing finance and tax issues to re-zoning and property development, as well as writing contracts.

The Legal Practicum: Business Practice course model is unique because it creates a collaborative business practice with teams of two attorneys who cooperatively represent a client’s business and personal legal needs. The attorney team shares responsibility, with each attorney serving as lead attorney in an equal number of these matters. Collaboration and delegation are an important part of The Legal Practicum: Business Practice Course model.

Through The Legal Practicum: Business Practice Course, student-attorneys receive feedback on written work and oral presentations, allowing them to experiment with different methods and find what works best for them.  They apply theory to legal problem solving, manage legal and ethical business issues, review theory and substance, work cooperatively with others, refresh and improve writing skills, hone oral presentation skills, and further develop their lawyering skills within a business practice law firm model.

Advanced Advocacy

The Advanced Advocacy course is designed to prepare students to be effective advocates.

The primary learning methods are performance, critique, discussion, and video review. The class is divided into small groups, with at least one instructor for each small group of students and two for video classes. When there are two instructors, one instructor conducts a live critique with the student and the other instructor reviews the videotaped performance with the student. When no video reviewer is present, the student reviews the tape alone. Students prepare written materials, perform oral exercises, and act as witnesses or opposing counsel. Instructors and other members of the small group critique and discuss performances.

This class has given me the confidence and training I need to be a trial lawyer. It is probably the best course I have ever taken.

Fall 2008 Practicum student