University of New Hampshire

School of Law

The Legal Profession

This course aims to help students understand the variety of contexts in which lawyers practice. The practice of law looks remarkably different depending on who you represent, (wealthy, middle class, or poor individuals, small or large businesses, the state or nonprofits) what types of problems you deal with (tax issues, criminal conduct, business transactions, etc.) and the type of organization you work in (large firm, small firm, government office or a corporation). The nature of a lawyer's practice effects the way he thinks about the law, the skills he exercises, the pressures he faces, and the ethical challenges he is likely to encounter.

The course meets every other week and is structured around eight in-class interviews of 16 practicing lawyers working in a wide variety of settings. The in-class interviews will introduce students to the skills and traits that make lawyers successful in particular practice settings. We will ask our interviewees what skills they use regularly in their practices; what audiences they must please; what challenges they face; what they enjoy about their work; and how their work interacts with their values. Students are required to participate in an on-line discussion forum designed for the class. In addition, each student will interview a lawyer selected by the faculty who practices in a setting of interest to that student and write a paper about what they learned. During the second semester in connection with Legal Skills, students will shadow the lawyer they interview to observe how lawyers write in practice.

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