Forecast 2014: A New Campus And Deeper Partnerships

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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Jennifer Brown
Jennifer Brown

Our second practicum course, "Community Needs Assessment," will be a collaboration between law professor Jennifer Herbst and Katherine LaMonaca, the Global Public Health Program coordinator at Quinnipiacs new medical school. This course will teach law students how to apply community needs assessment tools developed by public health professionals to better define unmet legal needs, understand barriers to meeting those needs, assess existing internal and external resources and build effective practices or programs. The tools will be transplantable to a variety of contexts, so that students who plan to practice in government, nonprofits, or solo practices will gain relevant skills.

The course is but one example of the many ways our law school will collaborate with other graduate programs at Quinnipiac. Medical students enrolled in the "Health Policy and Advocacy Capstone" program will take classes in the law school center, and law students will attend a sampling of medical school classes in support of independent research projects. The law school will also work with School of Education and and master's of social work program to develop interdisciplinary and joint degrees. All of these initiatives will give law students an opportunity to learn side-by-side with the professionals who will one day be their clients.

Health And Wellness

Building upon two successful 24-hour retreats at which small groups of second- and third-year law students explored the integration of personal and professional values, we will host a day-long retreat for first-year students at which they can reflect upon the ways law school has influenced their personality, inter-personal relationships and moral problem-solving. Associate Dean of Students Kathy Kuhar will continue to develop programs that foster sustainable habits of health and wellness, so that our graduates are better equipped to withstand the rigors and stresses of practice.

We will continue to focus on the professional development of our students through the work of our new Associate Dean of Professional and Career Development, Shelley Sadin. A former partner from Zeldes, Needle & Cooper, Sadin brings to Quinnipiac nearly 30 years of professional experience and relationships. She has already energized our Career Development office and spent many hours in one-on-one consultations with students and alumni alike.

This past year, along with Quinnipiac colleagues Brad Saxton and Carolyn Kaas, I have had the privilege of serving on the Connecticut Bar Association's Task Force on the Future of Legal Education. Although there is much work ahead of us, our research and discussions thus far have already made clear that the future of legal education lies in a closer partnership between the practicing bar and the legal academy. Just as Quinnipiac welcomes members of the bar to collaborate with us on courses, conferences and curriculum while students are with us, we also depend upon the bar to receive our graduates into a mentoring community and to extend their legal education beyond our walls. Our externship program has enlisted lawyer-supervisors in more than 300 externship sites as legal educators. Mentors in bar associations across the state have also volunteered countless hours to work with our students and recent graduates.

It is on this collaborative note that I'll close my preview of 2014. The press has thoroughly covered the challenges confronting law schools and the legal profession. We can all appreciate the financial constraints facing law firms, law schools and young lawyers. In such a time of apparent scarcity, we benefit from collaboration more than ever.

At Quinnipiac, we welcome the ideas, guidance and instruction that the practicing bar can offer us. And we ask the bar of Connecticut to take up this project of educating tomorrow's lawyers with us – both while they are enrolled in law school and beyond. •

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