The Law School's lawyering program spans all three years of law school.
Our First-Year Lawyering Seminar teaches legal reasoning, professional responsibility, legal writing, and other lawyering skills by integrating clinical methodology with substantive, theoretical, and doctrinal material. Using simulation exercises and hypothetical cases, students role-play lawyers, clients, judges, or legislators confronted by legal issues arising from material in their other first-year courses. For example, in conjunction with their Criminal Law course, students may be assigned the roles of lawyers representing or prosecuting persons in a criminal case, or, in Law and Family Relations, they may role-play lawyers representing or prosecuting various parties in a child abuse case in Family Court.
The Second-Year Lawyering Seminar builds on the skills learned in the first year, illustrating the ways in which lawyers work and think in particular areas of practice. Students continue to enhance their analytic skills by writing and revising legal documents on which they receive feedback and critiques. They also acquire new qualitative skills, such as active listening (to clients, adversaries, and others), problem solving and decision making, self-evaluation, and ethical reasoning. The second-year Lawyering Seminar teaches these skills in the context of particular substantive areas, such as criminal defense, international human rights, labor arbitration, or micro-enterprise. Students are encouraged to develop critical awareness of the social, legal, philosophical, political, and psychological content of their work, central to an exploration of lawyers' status and role, including the mandates and aspirations of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Real-World Legal Work
After two years of simulations in the Lawyering Seminars, CUNY students are ready for the rewards and satisfaction of real-world lawyering. In the third year, all students take a 12-to-16-credit faculty-supervised lawyering course. Students may select either a field placement, known as a "concentration," or an in-house clinical program.
These clinical offerings prepare CUNY School of Law graduates to be competent practitioners immediately upon graduation.
In the real-world practice opportunities of concentrations and clinics-representing clients in cases before administrative agencies, in trial and appellate courts and in a host of non-litigation settings-students are able to see the connection between developing lawyering skills and solving clients' problems. They are also encouraged to incorporate other kinds of legal work-such as legislative advocacy, bar association activity, public education, and consultation with community organizations-into their clinical activities. Students are introduced to the fundamentals of law office management, such as drafting and negotiating retainers and billing for expenses, and explore such ethical issues as how to select among potential clients when not all who seek assistance can be served.