by Andrew ’16
NUSL has a unique take on education, and it shows by the focus it gives to experiential learning. In addition to doctrinal classwork, students get experience working in the law long before they graduate. It is one of the features of NUSL that initially caught my attention, and it ultimately became the reason I chose to come to this school. The Cooperative Legal Education Program is one way they accomplish the task of exposing students to legal world. The other way is through their Legal Skills in Social Context (LSSC) curriculum. In LSSC’s Social Justice Program, students work with a small group of other students, a faculty supervisor, and a supervising attorney to do substantive legal work with a legal organization or task. This is not a lecture class or a seminar. Instead it is a dynamic, year-long project working for a real client doing real legal work.
My group (or “law office”) is working with two legal advocacy organizations in Massachusetts. Our job is to do research on the special education policies and procedures for the entire country in order to find better ways to provide equal access to education for all children here in Massachusetts. The project took me by surprise. I never had specific interest in education issues or education law before coming to NUSL. However, as I got deeper into the research and more invested in the work product, I realized I was completely engaged. Now, I find myself thinking about education law all the time.
In addition to the opportunity to do actual legal work, we also get the chance to work in a collaborative setting. Each member of the law office comes from a different background and brings a different skill to the project. Our law office includes a diverse group of talented individuals, including a teacher, a community organizer, and a veteran, just to name a few. Together we teach each other while performing a meaningful task and gaining work experience. I cannot think of a better way for a professional school to prepare its students for what comes next…being a lawyer.