Students' success in the practice of law depends upon more than classroom performance. It also relies on the students' opportunity to perfect fundamental legal skills prior to graduation. This opportunity can take a variety of forms. It might look like taking on a case under the direction of a seasoned attorney, participating in competitions designed to refine skills as orators and writers, or perhaps working as a clerk at an internationally recognized nonprofit with global reach.
All of these opportunities (and more) are available to Regent University School of Law students through the Center for Advocacy, which was established to equip the next generation of lawyers with exceptional training in research and writing, negotiation, trial and appellate advocacy.
"We believe we can have a broader reach and a more significant impact by coordinating our efforts through this center," said Jeffrey Brauch, dean of the School of Law. "The center will bring greater attention to our work. It will also let us begin new outreaches, such as expanding advocacy training to non-lawyers."
The Center for Advocacy is a comprehensive grouping of all the various programs that provide students with these experiences, including the Civil Litigation Clinic, the Singer Civil Litigation Practicum, the National Right to Work Practicum, clerkships with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Advocacy Skills Boards, and a number of other externships, legal analysis and writing opportunities, and third-year practice opportunities.
In a very competitive legal market, employers are looking for students with experience in fundamental legal skills.
"There is growing agreement, both in academia and the legal profession, that law schools need to be effective in developing 'practice-ready' graduates," explained Professor Eric DeGroff, the center's director. "The center is designed to promote and enhance that aspect of our educational program, and thus ensure that our students are as well prepared as possible to hit the ground running upon graduation."
The Civil Litigation Clinic, run by Associate Professor Kathleen McKee, has been a staple of Regent Law for more than 12 years, providing law students with the opportunity to use their legal knowledge to serve area residents who couldn't otherwise afford legal representation.
"The purpose of a clinical program is to give the student a feel for what it's like to work within a law firm, to represent a client from the beginning to the end of a case," McKee explained.
The Singer Civil Litigation Practicum is offered to second- and third-year Regent Law students for course credit. The practicum places law students in attorney-in-residence Randy Singer's own firm—The Singer Legal Group—giving them hands-on experience in a law firm setting.
"The best way to learn how to try a civil case is to get in there and do it, and do it under proper supervision with a firm that's really trying to do things in an excellent way," Singer explained.
As clerks with the ACLJ—a nonprofit organization with offices in Virginia Beach, Va., and Washington, D.C.—students are placed in the middle of the organization's efforts to engage in litigation, provide legal services, render advice to individuals and governmental agencies, and counsel clients on global freedom and liberty issues.
And, of course, the Advocacy Skills Boards, such as Alternative Dispute Resolution, Moot Court and Trial Advocacy continue to earn recognition at regional and national competitions. In 2012, the Moot Court Team won the Region IV competition of the National Moot Court Competition (NMCC) sponsored by the New York Bar Association. Held at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., the competition included 22 teams. Regent's team of third-year law students Paul Bailey, Andrew Kartchner, and Jessica Pak also won the award for the best brief.
In the same month, Regent Law's Alternative Dispute Resolution Board (ADR) won the 2012 American Bar Association (ABA) Regional Negotiation Competition at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Third-year law students Hannah Carter and Chris Bell placed first from a roster of 24 teams representing universities like Georgetown, American University, George Mason, George Washington University, University of Richmond, the University of Maryland, Washington & Lee and William & Mary.
"The ultimate goal," DeGroff explained, "is to prepare graduates who can move effectively into areas of service where they can make a difference in the legal profession or in whatever God calls them to do."
Learn more about Regent Law's Center for Advocacy.
By Rachel Bender
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