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Law in Practice

Law in Practice (LiP) is the University of Minnesota Law School's unique experiential learning course required for all first-year J.D. students. The course transforms law students' emerging knowledge of legal doctrine and reasoning into an introductory understanding of the actual practice of law.

LiP combines classroom teaching with small group simulation experiences. This combination provides complementary means of understanding the conceptual knowledge and professional skills needed to master the iterative process of discovering new facts, refining legal research objectives and managing the relationship with the client.

Law School faculty members teach a weekly class exploring doctrinal and strategic issues in the simulated cases. Students perform simulations in "Practice Groups" of eight students led by practicing attorneys. Groups of two students engage in client or witness interviews, client counseling, and negotiation and dispute resolution simulations. Each student individually takes a deposition. Clients and witnesses are provided and trained by the Standardized Patient Program at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

The online teaching materials for the course include a text, case file simulation documents and a video series. The materials are designed so that each component integrates with the subject matter and learning objectives of the other items. More information on the teaching materials can be obtained at http://www.law-in-practice.com/index.asp.

Units I and II of the course are based on a litigation case file. Students receive time-released information on a condensed schedule designed to mimic the patterns of case development in legal practice. Unit I focuses on fact gathering; Unit II presents dispute resolution with students appearing in a chambers conference before a local judge and conduct a mediation with a qualified neutral.

Unit III of the course is based on a transactional case file and introduces the students to the differences between litigation and transactional work. Students interview and counsel a client looking to complete a deal with another party. Students then engage in a negotiation simulation with the student attorneys representing the opposing party in the simulation.

Units I & II: Litigation Simulations

LiP students engage in a series of simulations using both a litigation case file and a transactional case file. Each litigation case file contains six simulations:

  1. Client interview
  2. Witness interview
  3. Deposition
  4. Written settlement offer
  5. Chambers conference
  6. Mediation

Unit III: Transactional Simulations

Each transactional case file contains two simulations:

  1. Client interview and counseling
  2. Negotiation

Partners

  • Volunteer judges
  • Volunteer mediators
  • U of MN Medical School's Standardized Patient Program
  • Transactional attorney speakers