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St. John's Law Expands Intersession Offerings

Thursday, January 16, 2014

St. John’s Law is committed to providing students with an excellent education anchored in the fundamentals of the law. At the same time, recognizing the challenges and opportunities of today’s legal marketplace, the faculty has revised the curriculum to offer a range of writing, dispute resolution, trial advocacy, and other skills-based courses. Among the new offerings designed to help students build targeted expertise is a growing suite of intersession courses held during the break between the fall and spring semesters and over the summer.

Starting next year, all 1Ls will be required to take a one-week Lawyering course during the January intersession. Developed by Elayne E. Greenberg, Assistant Dean for Dispute Resolution, Professor of Legal Practice, and Director of The Hugh L. Carey Center for Dispute Resolution, and Paul F. Kirgis, Professor of Law and Faculty Chair of the Carey Center, this two-credit intensive will focus on negotiation skills and the companion skills of interviewing clients and drafting agreements—core competencies for effective negotiators. 

The Lawyering course augments the current slate of intersession offerings that includes a divorce mediation training course and an intensive negotiation course; both designed for upper-level students and co-taught by Professors Greenberg and Kirgis. In 2014-2015, the Dean’s Travel Study Program will move to the intersession, giving students a unique opportunity to explore international and comparative law hands-on in different countries.

“Students benefit from these intersession courses in multiple ways,” Professor Greenberg said. “First, they have the luxury of uninterrupted focus that facilitates more constructive and efficient skill learning. Second, I’ve found that students in the intensive classes form stronger bonds with each other and the professor. These relationships encourage the students to learn from each other and provide more opportunities for professors to customize their teaching to accommodate student needs. Finally, the longer blocks of teaching time allow professors to seize the teachable moments and delve into topics in greater detail.” Students praise the intersession courses, reporting that the experience has compelled them to re-think how they want to practice law.

“We are exploring other intersession format courses to provide education in skills that students will need in their career,” said Associate Academic Dean Larry Cunningham. “Yet, we also remain committed to offering courses in such fundamental areas as tax, evidence, trusts and estates, and criminal procedure. Together, this balance of tradition and innovation will prepare our students well for the profession.”