Seriously, I just spent the week teaching legal technology and law practice management classes at the Charleston School of Law – in Charleston, South Carolina. I’ve done this at a number of law schools around the country over the years, but I have to say, this school stands out for me for many reasons – it was the single most positive experience I’ve ever had with any law school anywhere, including all three years at my alma mater, Marquette University Law School way back in the 80′s.
If you’re interested in viewing my course materials for my classes which included:
- Social Media Isn’t Just a Fad: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin and YouTube and How to Use Them Responsibly and Ethically in Your New Practice
- The 2012 New Lawyer’s Low-Budget / No-Budget Technology Survival Guide
- Technology for Tightwads: 10+ Tips for Free and Low-Cost Law Practice Management and Tech Tools, Gadgets, Apps and Websites
- How NOT to Commit Malpractice With Your Computer (or iPad or Smartphone)
You can download the PDFs of the materials, along with all my other recent CLE materials here - feel free to share them with those whom you feel might benefit.
And it’s not just because they invited me to my favorite city in all of North America :-) (although that didn’t hurt). The reasons I was so impressed with the Charleston School of Law, in no particular order are:
- The intangibles – the sense of community between faculty, the administration and the students – not three distinct groups as I’ve normally experienced at law schools, but rather a genuine community of people who actually like each other and have a real sense of camaraderie. What better way to instill a future sense of law practice collegiality than to plant the seeds in law school.
- Genuinely, some of the warmest, nicest people I’ve seen in any academic environment – the administration takes very good care of their students. For goodness sake, they feed them pizza and lunch – that didn’t happen when I was in law school. I heard that in a typical year, the school spends into the five figures just feeding their busy students.
- An attitude of open-mindedness and willingness to experiment with new, progressive and practical ways to educate their students – something I’ve seen in short supply in most law schools who lean towards traditionalism. In a traditional city like Charleston, there’s an educational revolution happening here, especially with what appears to be a sorely needed and growing commitment to including practical aspects of law practice life – legal technology and law practice management – into the curriculum.
- The students I met and had the privilege of teaching were engaged, appreciative and seem thrilled to be learning not just about substantive law, but the practical side of what it will be like to actually practice law – and they seemed appreciative of their school’s willingness to make such classroom focus available to them. These students showed an intense passion and interest for absorbing information about the practical elements of law practice – clearly the initiatives taken by Dean Saunders and Judge Kosko – teaching lawyering skills and law practice management courses – are paying off – these students will be more ready than any I’ve seen to jump into firms and even their own practices after graduation and be functional, responsible and contributing members of the legal communities wherever they end up residing – very impressive “kids” (most did seem young enough to be my children, but there were plenty of second-career folks too).
- The administrators I met – Associate Dean Abby Saunders, Assistant Dean Mark Moore, Assistant Dean Jennifer Summers, Brett Barker, Roland Jones, Assistant Dean Jennifer Summers, Betsy Marchant and especially Judge George Kosko, one of the founders of the school and a member of its board of advisors – were delightfully hospitable, engaging and fascinating conversation partners talking about progressive legal education and showed a touching level of affection and concern for the academic and personal well-being of their students.
- Being smack dab in the heart of Charleston’s famed Historic District certainly doesn’t hurt – with facilities ranging from restored, renovated and reclaimed historic structures like the city’s old railroad depot (transformed into an architecturally impressive law library and student center – a place I would’ve killed to be able to study in in my academic days), a wonderful art deco theater on vibrant King Street, among others. It’s hard to imagine students coming here and ever wanting to leave.
If any of my children wanted to pursue a legal career, it would be a privilege – and my first choice – to send them to the Charleston School of Law. I hope that I have the opportunity to help them in the future with further educational offerings for their students. If it seems like I’m completely enamored with this school, it’s because I am!
Special note of thanks to my dear friend and colleague, Courtney Kennaday, Practice Management Advisor for the South Carolina Bar. Courtney’s syllabus has served as the original base for the school’s efforts in injecting these elements of practicality into the curriculum and was instrumental in making the connections that yielded the invitation for me to be able to contribute. I think that the legal community in South Carolina is truly fortunate to have her as a law practice management resource.
As I reminded all the students I met, if any of you have any questions at all about the courses I taught, please don’t hesitate to contact me here.
Thank you to all my new friends and if it’s not too presumptuous to say, colleagues, at the Charleston School of Law for a rewarding experience. I just hope that your student body benefited as much from my classes as I benefited from the entire experience.
Oh, and if you haven’t been to Charleston, South Carolina, what’s wrong with you?! A magnificently preserved historic district, a city dripping with history from the Spanish colonial era through the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Civil Rights to its present day mix of spectacular and world class dining, wonderful weather (okay, it gets steamy in the summer), a seafood lover’s paradise, with beaches that delight children and the young at heart, it’s a perfect place for a family vacation, a romantic weekend, or a history buff’s adventure trip. Just go – trust me on this – I’ve been to the city more than 20 times and can’t wait to come back. Oh, and if you go, be sure to get reservations well in advance for Husk, voted Bon Appétit Magazine’s best new restaurant in the U.S. in 2011 – trust me on that one too. Or Grill 225 – truly the best I’ve had of a lifetime of steaks (no hyperbole or overstatement intended – it’s just fact – better than Peter Luger’s, better than Manny’s in Minneapolis, better than all the steakhouse chains – better than the classic “5 O’Clock House” in Milwaukee, my hometown) and . . . well, I could go on and on about the great dining, great sites, and all the reasons why a Charleston stay should be on your travel bucket list.