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Law School ranks No. 2 as Best in Practical Training by National Jurist

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 scored 45.7 percent on clinical opportunities available per student to put the school in second place behind Yale Law School. Drake 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 National Jurist used data from the Official Guide to ABA-approved Law Schools 2008 Edition to generate the rankings. To calculate each school’s percentage of clinical opportunities available, the magazine divided the total number of full-time clinical course positions offered into the number of full-time students.

Students benefit from key clinical opportunities

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, LA’75, LW’78, 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.”

Students recognized for pro bono work for hurricane victims

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. Read “The Calm After the Storm” on page 17 online.

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.

For more information about the National Jurist, visit the Web site.