Drake University Law School took the No. 2 spot as Best in Practical Training in the National Jurist Law School Rankings. The new rankings and the entire article are available online in the magazine's September 2008 issue on pages 26-29.
In the rankings, Drake placed second to Yale Law School and tied for second with the University of Wisconsin.
"Our longtime commitment to clinical education is consistent with our mission to prepare students for the legal profession," said Law School Dean Benjamin B. Ullem. "We are pleased to be recognized for our commitment and believe that our clinical programs are some of the strongest in the country."
The article highlights Drake's Trial Practicum program in which first-year students observe -- from start to finish -- an actual criminal or civil trial. As the trial progresses, students join professors, judges and veteran attorneys in discussion sessions that focus on evidence, litigation practice, professionalism and procedure -- as well as the law involved in the case.
At the end of the trial, the students debrief participating attorneys as well as jurors and the judge who tried the case. It is opportunities like these for experiential education that add to Drake's hands-on learning culture.
Robert Rigg, associate professor of law and director of the Criminal Defense Program, was quoted in the article about the Law School's culture that values clinics.
"There is a real effort to allow students to immerse themselves in not just theory but practice of a given area of law," Rigg told the National Jurist.
The article noted that unlike most law schools, Drake has faculty who have actually practiced law.
"As a result, each faculty member appreciates and supports the clinical experience that our law school offers to our students," said Jerry Foxhoven, executive director of the Drake Legal Clinic and director of the Joan and Lyle Middleton Center for Children's Rights. "The substantive courses regularly integrate the clinical and other 'hands-on' opportunities that are offered to our students."
The National Jurist's September issue also featured seven Drake law students who spent their spring break helping victims of hurricanes Rita and Katrina in New Orleans.
The Drake students joined volunteer private attorneys and students from nine other universities and the Student Hurricane Network. They helped with civil cases concerning homelessness and consumer and family law issues for clients who couldn't afford legal services.