Coastal Law is now taking registrations for the spring 2011 Skills Labs. A Skills Lab is a specialized course in which students who have already taken the associated doctrinal course work gain valuable legal experience assisting licensed legal practictioners in Florida on pro bono cases.
For instance, students who have already successfully completed the doctrinal Trusts and Estates course in a prior semester are eligible to register for the Trusts and Estates Skills Lab.
Because the faculty and staff at Coastal Law, as well as those in the legal community locally and beyond, believe it is important for students to have law-related experience while in school, we encourage at least one live client experience.
More for information contact Rosa DuBose, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
- The benefits of live client experience include:
- The opportunity to observe practitioners and learn professionalism from practicing attorneys.
- Fostering in students an awareness of the importance of pro bono work.
- Teaching students practical skills they can use upon graduation.
- The opportunity to receive mentoring from the practitioner who is teaching the Skills Lab.
- Networking opportunities which may lead to job opportunities.
- Reputation enhancement in the community.
1. Students may register for either a one or two credit skills lab; however, the professor has the final authority as to whether to offer the lab for one or two credits. If the pro bono cases available are not sufficiently involved to support two credits’ worth of work, the professor may elect to offer the lab for only one credit. Enrollment preference will be given to students who have not already earned credit in an in house clinic or externship at Coastal Law.
2. Students will be assigned one of the following grades for the Lab: “Not Satisfactory,” “Satisfactory,” and “Exceptional.” Those students receiving the grade of “Not Satisfactory” will earn no course credit or skills credit for the course. Students earning “Satisfactory” or “Exceptional” grades will be awarded the credits for which they registered. The credits awarded for skills labs will count towards the non-course credit limit set forth in Section VI. D. of the Student Handbook.
3. Each course will be scheduled to meet for 1 hour, 50 minutes once a week. During the class periods, the professor will review doctrinal material which the students need to know to work on their cases. At the professor’s option, some class periods may be replaced with conferences for students assigned to work on the same case; other classes may be canceled to provide students with time to work on their cases.
4. Students will be required to work a total of 55 hours per credit hour awarded. Time spent in class sessions will be counted towards the hours required per credit hour. Students must keep a time sheet documenting this time spent and submit this to the professor at the end of the semester.
5. Each Skills Lab will be limited to 8-10 students who are concurrently enrolled in the doctrinal course which is the subject of the Skills Lab. Enrollment preference will be given to students who have not already taken a for-credit live client course at Coastal Law.
6. The practitioner will be responsible for finding pro bono cases for students to work on; these pro bono cases may come from a legal aid organization such as JALA or from another case the attorney or the attorney’s law firm has accepted on a pro bono basis. The cases should be the type which can be completed within the span of the semester. Students may be, but are not required to be, assigned to work on cases in pairs.
7. Students who have received their CLI may be permitted to represent clients in court subject to immediate supervision of the Skills Lab professor. Students who have not received their CLI may participate in all aspects of representing their client, but these students may not directly represent their clients in court.
What participating students say:
“The skill's lab was very helpful in terms of familiarizing me with the practical side of family law. I took family law and the lab concurrently which really helped to unravel the concepts and laws we were learning in family law. We had our own client's and handled the case as if it was our own. I got to draft pleadings, fill out forms, attend court and manage a case from beginning to end … All in all, this is an experience everyone should have skills labs are available to all without having to fill out applications or worrying about your GPA.”
“I liked being able to work with a real client and draft real documents such as a power of attorney, will, living will, healthcare surrogate etc. The lab was very useful and practical.”
“I very much enjoyed my Trusts and Estates skills lab with Professor Robert Morgan. It has definitely helped me understand trusts and estates and has helped me immensely with my Trusts and Estates lecture class … Because our lab class was small, Professor Morgan was really able to talk to us and make sure we were understanding concepts from the materials he posted for our lab class as well as material covered in our regular lecture class.”
Christine Malamanig Berk
“In my family law skills lab I learned about the divorce process by actually going through it with a real client. We drafted a petition, notice of hearing, settlement agreement, and a final order (all of which were actually submitted to the Duval County Courthouse) … I really appreciated being able to provide help for people who need legal assistance, and earning academic credit was definitely a bonus. I would easily recommend the skills lab to anyone.”