Montana expands experiential curriculum

The University of Montana Law School has expanded upon its innovative curriculum, which mimics a law firm setting. It now introduces students to live client interviewing and problem solving under the supervision of lawyer faculty.

Each first year belongs to a law firm consisting of six classmates and a junior partner teaching assistant. The firms are learning laboratories that meet weekly to practice professional skills.

Faculty have integrated professional skills, such as interviewing, counseling, negotiating, drafting, legal research, and written and oral advocacy, into the required core curriculum in the form of extensive simulated professional legal situations and required clinical education 

First-year students take nine required credits of professional skills work. Second-year students take a professional skills business transactions course and trial advocacy. Third-year students engage in live-client clinical education.    

“ While traditional law schools have relied heavily on faculty who have had no practice experience or expertise, UMLS requires that, in addition to academic and scholarly achievement, faculty candidates have substantial practice experience in the area in which they will teach,” said Gregory S. Munro, Interim Dean of University of Montana and author of the book, “Outcomes Assessment for Law Schools”