Lawyers are problem-solvers, says Dean Bruce P. Elman of Windsor Law. They use a core set of skills — research, client interviewing, counseling and oral advocacy — to find ingenious solutions to difficult, multi-faceted problems.
One of the main purposes of a legal education, explains Dean Elman, is to give future legal problem-solvers "a foretaste" of what their day-to-day jobs will be like. At Windsor Law, there are dozens of courses, legal clinics, clerkships and student organizations that are designed to deliver hands-on experience with real-world legal situations.
Experiential learning starts in the classroom, says Assistant Dean (Student Services) Francine Herlehy. "There are a whole host of classes that require a student to move away from the textbook into the practice of law."
Every first-year student takes a Legal Research and Writing course taught by experts in these essential skills. Then, in upper-year courses like Alternative Dispute Resolution, Criminal Advocacy and Estate Planning, students learn by doing. They conduct mock mediations, build criminal cases from scratch and work through the entire estate planning process.
But some of the most intense hands-on legal experiences at Windsor Law are found in our three legal clinics: Legal Assistance of Windsor (LAW) — which just celebrated its 35th anniversary — Community Legal Aid (CLA) and University of Windsor Mediation Services.
LAW is the law school's flagship poverty law clinic. Students apply to be full-time caseworkers for real clients with real legal problems, anything from landlord-tenant and small claims disputes to fighting for Ontario Works or disabilities benefits. CLA is primarily a student legal clinic, where law school volunteers counsel students in housing disputes, disciplinary action and minor criminal issues.
University of Windsor Mediation Services, launched in 2005, is the first fully operational student mediation clinic at a Canadian law school. Student mediators — trained in alternative dispute resolution techniques — sit down with bickering neighbors, disgruntled workers and frustrated landlords to settle difficult disputes without litigation.
At all three clinics, not only do students get real legal experience with real clients while earning credit toward their LL.B., but they get a firsthand look — under the guidance of staff lawyers— at how they, as lawyers can be instruments of social justice.
"That incredible feeling that students get when they resolve a case, whether that be through a negotiated settlement, a mediated settlement or a litigated settlement really cements the law as a helping profession," says Assistant Dean Herlehy.
The Northwest Territories Clerkship program is another unique experiential learning opportunity at Windsor Law. Imagine traveling with the justices of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories to hold court in remote aboriginal villages.
Windsor Law also boasts a highly successful competitive mooting program. Try out for one of our mooting teams specializing in everything from international to corporate law, and argue mock cases in front of real judges.