Hands-on Courtroom Experience | Collaborative Programs at Touro Law
Collaborative Court Programs
Touro Law Center is dedicated to preparing students for the practice of law by providing a quality legal education that infuses practical experience into the curriculum. Our new Central Islip location, adjacent to a federal courthouse and a state courthouse, provides our law school with a unique opportunity to combine law school learning with courtroom experience. The primary work institution of the legal system - the courts - exposes our students to law in action. By bringing together members of the bench, the bar, and the academy, our graduates are offered the most comprehensive practical legal education available in the country.
The Collaborative Court Program utilizes the many benefits available to us because of our location, including the relationships we have developed with judges, attorneys, and other court personnel. The Program is a three-year curricular option for Touro Law students, incrementally merging their classroom learning with the practical work of the courts. It begins with observation and culminates with participation, utilizing the integration of theory and practice as its central educational objective.
The Program has three main components: Court Observation, Court Integration, and Court Specialization.
Court Observation - OBSERVING
Court Integration - STUDYING
Court Specialization - PARTICIPATING
First Year: Court Observation
First year students visit the state and federal courts to observe proceedings and then meet with judges, attorneys, and other court personnel. Students return to the law school to discuss with a faculty member the proceedings they have observed. This program introduces students to the workings of the courts, from their first days of law school. Also as part of the Court Observation Program, Touro Law hosts informal lunches and dinners at which students meet judges, law clerks, practitioners and other legal professionals.
Second Year: Court Integration
Using the courtroom as its educational laboratory, Court Integration focuses on bridging the gap between classroom theory and courtroom practice. Two courses have been developed to achieve this objective: American Trial Courts: Theory & Practice in the Federal Courts and American Trial Courts: Theory & Practice in the New York State Courts. The Federal course will be offered every Fall; the New York State course will be offered every Spring. Both courses integrate court proceedings, in specific legal areas, into the classroom and utilize collaborative relationships with judges, attorneys and court personnel, some of whom are active participants in these courses. The courses are designed to broaden and deepen a student’s level of understanding, to bridge theory with practice, and develop skills needed to practice law. While the substance of the two courses differs, the structure is the same. Each course has three components: (1) Courtroom Observations, (2) Related Course and (3) Integrative Seminar.
- Minimum of 4 hours per week of court observation
- Courses selected based on substance of Rotations
During courtroom observations, students spend a minimum of four hours per week in designated courtrooms and then write about the proceedings they have observed. The schedule for the courtroom component is determined in advance and is based upon rotations through the courts, emphasizing substantive legal areas the students are studying in the related courses.
As a prerequisite or co-requisite to enrollment in the American Trial Courts course, the student must take a course directly related to the work being observed in the courts. These related courses enhance a student’s ability to understand his/her courtroom experiences, and those experiences bring a real life perspective to the related course.
(Note: Evidence is strongly recommended as a prerequisite or co-requisite for both of the American Trial Court courses.)
The related course component is satisfied by any one (1) of the courses listed below.
The Federal Court Rotations
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
U.S. Magistrate Court
U.S. District Court
The State Court Rotations
Related Course Options: The Federal Course
Civil Rights Law
Employment Discrimination Law
Related Course Options: The State Course
Advanced Family Law
Both of the American Trial Court courses include a weekly seminar where content of courtroom observations and related courses are synthesized, members of the bar, the bench and the academy present their perspectives on the subject being explored, and students are given the opportunity to develop skills necessary to practice law. The Seminar sessions are divided into units, each unit corresponding with a specific court rotation. For example in American Trial Courts: Theory & Practice in the Federal Courts, the first rotation is in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Students spend three weeks, a minimum of twelve hours in total, observing diverse bankruptcy proceedings. The Integrative Seminar correlates those three weeks of observations with three weeks of seminar sessions devoted to the bankruptcy unit.
EXAMPLE OF ONE UNIT OF THE INTEGRATIVE SEMINAR:
Bankruptcy Session #1:
The Academy Perspective – Touro Law faculty presents bankruptcy basics to students. Students who are enrolled in the related course, Bankruptcy Law, are expected to assist in the presentation.
Bankruptcy Session #2:
The Bar Perspective – Practicing attorneys present the issues they routinely face in their practice, focusing particularly on pitfalls faced by new attorneys. Discussion of cases focus on those cases currently on the dockets of the Eastern District Bankruptcy Judges.
Bankruptcy Session #3:
The Bench Perspective/Student presentations – All students write a Motion to Vacate A Stay, based on a problem created by a judge, and have the opportunity to argue their motion in Bankruptcy Court before participating bankruptcy judges. The judges provide feedback to students on their performance.
Third Year: Court Specialization
Students are offered opportunities to specialize in one area of court practice and gain hands-on practical experience through a variety of program options: externships in select courts; pro bono projects involving direct work with court personnel; a course in the New York State Problem-Solving Courts, modeled upon the structure of the Court Integration courses; or, an expanded program of Student Clerkships, focusing on the specialized parts of the New York State Court System.
COLLABORATIVE COURT PROGRAM BENEFITS
- Intensive Focus on the Development of Professional Skills and Values
- Problem-Solving Skills
- Research Skills
- Litigation Procedures
- Recognizing Ethical Issues and Understanding Resolutions
- Legal Writing Skills
- Organization and Management of Legal Work
- Oral Advocacy Skills
- Intensive learning and practice opportunities in diverse areas of law
- Opportunities to learn from members of the academy, the bench and the bar
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
For more information about the Collaborative Court Programs, please contact Myra Berman, Director of Collaborative Court Programs at (631) 761-7114 or email@example.com.