UCLA School of Law announced its Transition to Practice LL.M. Program today. It will allow 3Ls to take an extra year of classes geared towards teaching them the skills and practices they would have learned as first-year associates. The school’s press release explains what students will be learning:
A core component of the Transition to Practice program will be capstone courses that will draw heavily on practice-oriented projects in addition to substantial research and written work. Capstone courses will include part-time externships within corporate legal departments, as well as clinical simulations, where students work with real legal problems in a controlled environment that permits reflection and generalization of lessons learned. The Transition to Practice program will also include a required workshop series designed to introduce students to the practical issues that confront new lawyers, ranging from how to define a work-product to understanding a client’s business and goals, and handling practical problems of ethics and confidentiality. Capstone classes will be taught both by the core faculty of the law school and prominent practicing lawyers. The law school expects to develop curriculum in conjunction with leading law firms and corporate legal departments and to draw on the expertise of the Los Angeles legal community.
After the jump, Above the Law speaks with UCLA School of Law Dean Michael Schill.
We spoke with Dean Schill and he shared some additional thoughts on why this program is important right now:
The program was designed to focus on recent graduates of law schools who will have to defer or postpone their entry into legal practice. The program focuses on the types of legal skills that would be obtained in a first year law firm experience…. The LL.M. will also feature a required course on practical issues facing lawyers. We hope that this program will allow young lawyers, particularly deferred students, to enter legal practice with a running start.
According to Dean Schill, the idea was hatched in part by UCLA alumni who asked for the deadline for the LL.M. program to be extended so they could apply. The Dean reports that the response from the legal and corporate communities has been “tremendous.”
We expect that the response from law firms will be tremendous as well. Listen to the glowing review of the idea from a partner at Latham:
“UCLA School of Law’s Transition to Practice program is an outstanding option for recent law school graduates, deferred hires and employers,” said James D. C. Barrall ’75, head of Latham & Watkins’s Global Benefits Compensation Group. “This unique training will replicate much of the experience of a new associate, which will allow recent graduates to hit the ground running when they start their jobs. Employers also gain new lawyers with practical legal training under their belt.”
We don’t know if UCLA’s program will qualify for the deferral stipend from firms that have tied the money to a public interest job. But it should. At this point, anything law schools can to do to relieve law firms of their promise to actually hire the people they offered jobs to is in the best interest of all involved.
Now that some top-tier law schools are taking extra steps to help deferred students, every law school is on notice that “career services” might require more than setting up OCI.
Earlier: Northwestern Law Gets ‘Proactive’