New UConn Post Focuses On Hands-On Education
Paul Chill has been helping others launch their careers ever since his days at Wesleyan University, when he was a defensive end on a football team with Bill Belichick. "We were teammates for one season," Chill said. "And yes, I am very proud of that."
Belichick went on to lead the New England Patriots to win three Super Bowl rings as their head coach. Chill went on to lead a clinical movement at the University of Connecticut School of Law, where he started as a professor in 1988. "They've been trying to get rid of me ever since," he joked.
That hardly seems to be the case. Chill has made his mark in an aspect of legal education that helps shape young legal minds while at the same time providing assistance to disadvantaged people who cannot afford to pay lawyers. In his long career, he has led student-run law clinics — starting with one that focused on health law — that have provided help for thousands of people.
Now the law school has strengthened its commitment to provide real world experience to its students by naming Chill as the first-ever associate dean for clinical and experiential education. Chill, who graduated from the law school himself in 1985, was honored with the promotion. "It's a very exciting time to be involved in this kind of work," he said.
Timothy Fisher, the law school's new dean, said he could think of no better person for the new role of overseeing the school's 15 clinics. "Professor Chill has already been a leader in efforts to re-shape our curriculum to meet the demands of a rapidly-changing profession, as chair of the Curriculum Review Committee," Fisher said. "His range of expertise in the clinical and academic realms, and his commitment to the law school and our students, make him an optimal candidate for the position."
UConn's law curriculum has included experiential learning programs for more than 30 years. But last year, the Curriculum Review Committee responded to national criticism that law schools were not doing enough to provide graduates with real-world practice skills. The committee voted to move clinics front and center, by requiring "experiential learning" for all graduates. Starting with this year's incoming class, all students must complete at least one supervised "live-lawyering experience" before they can receive a J.D.
In this new role, Chill will be responsible for overseeing the clinics and experiential programs, which include an expanded individual externship program, a Semester in Washington, D.C., program and a variety of simulation-based courses. He will share responsibility for implementing the new graduation requirement with Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Leslie Levin.
Chill said he expects to expand the law school's already active clinical programs, which include Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship; Asylum and Human Rights; and Mediation.
In addition, Chill said, the school has developed programs that combine clinical work with externships at state agencies, such as the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Each clinic has about 12 students. One of Chill's priorities will be determining the best way to place students in the clinical programs, now that the programs are required.
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