In this experiential course designed for students considering careers in law, participants acquire a realistic understanding of the legal profession and of the steps and skills necessary for success within it. In the process, they gain insight into whether a career in law would be fulfilling to them.
At the heart of the course is exposure to the real world of legal practice. Through presentations by attorneys representing a broad range of practice areas and through visits to law firms, courts (including Manhattan’s Criminal Court, inspiration for television’s Law and Order), and public interest legal organizations, participants learn first-hand about law as it is practiced in the corporate, government, and non-profit sectors.
The course teacher provides substantive instruction related to first-year law school courses as well as LSAT test prep information and gives students a clear view of the requirements for law school and attorney licensing in the United States.
Participants gain public speaking experience through debate, mock trial, and moot court exercises and engage in fundamental legal research and writing assignments, thereby developing skills which are transferable across academic disciplines.
Students engage in a number of exercises requiring application of the principles and concepts learned throughout the program. A culminating collaborative practicum project is a special opportunity for them to employ their knowledge so as to develop and present a law-based solution to a specific social issue of interest to them.
Students should bring a business casual outfit for some of the required activities.
James P. O'Brien holds a B.A. in history and geography from the University of Albany, an M.S. in secondary school education from Hofstra University, and a J.D. from Albany Law School of Union University. Having practiced law with a general practice firm, he has a broad exposure to the myriad areas of legal practice. His work as a high school legal instructor has included work with students on advocacy projects, such as on behalf of a death row inmate, as well as a successful clemency petition on behalf of an incarcerated battered woman. Jim has served as coordinator of an interdisciplinary criminal law and forensic science program and as an LSAT instructor with Baruch College of the City University of New York; he has taught in the Columbia Summer Program since 2001.