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LAW SCHOOL PROFILE

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University of Wisconsin Law School, Madison, WI
[By Heather Jung] Established in 1868, University of Wisconsin Law School has a simple motto: law in action. According to Dean Kenneth Davis, the phrase refers to examining how new ideas and theories will affect us. The phrase was not coined at the school but, rather, in 1910 by then-dean of Harvard Law School Roscoe Pound. The philosophy permeates everything at the law school, from the classrooms to the clinical programs to the methods of teaching.

“Our rich ‘law-in-action’ tradition is an important part of who we are, and it will remain an important part of who we become,” Davis said. “It is still flourishing and developing after all these years, and it occupies a central position in our strategic plan. ‘Law in action’ gives us the focus to confront the challenge of remaining one of the nation’s preeminent law schools. With your help, we will continue building our national reputation for excellence and our commitment to the ‘law-in-action’ philosophy. It is a philosophy that has served UW Law School graduates well over the past century, and it is one that may prove even more relevant for tomorrow’s graduates as they face an increasingly complex, competitive, and challenging world.” The law-in-action philosophy is most evident in Wisconsin’s approach to its law school curriculum. Classes go beyond surface knowledge, teaching students how the law can both cause and reflect social change. First-year classes teach the basics of the law, while second- and third-year classes allow students to further explore the curriculum and hone the lawyering skills of good attorneys. In order to facilitate its law-in-action-based curriculum, the school employs nationally renowned faculty whose diverse background and experience provide students with new ideas and ways of thinking with regard to stem-cell research, death row, and other controversial topics. Faculty members have worked with members of Congress to draft legislation and with the European Union on monetary policy. A low student-faculty ratio (3: according to The

Princeton Review) allows faculty to work closely with students and affords students the help and attention they need. The law-in-action approach spills over onto Wisconsin Law School’s clinical and skillstraining programs. Paired with what they learn in class, the information and skills students gain from these hands-on programs make them well-rounded lawyers. Available clinics include (but are definitely not limited to): • Legal Assistance to Institutionalized Persons (LAIP), the school’s largest clinical project, in which students work with faculty members to provide legal guidance to people incarcerated in Wisconsin’s federal and state prisons. • The Family Law Project-Restorative Justice Project, through which students who have completed their first year are chosen in a competitive application process. The program requires a year-long commitment. Students assist incarcerated clients with family concerns (such as divorce and childcustody cases) as well as “victiminitiated communication involving felony offenders and their victims.” • The Innocence Project, which allows students, under the supervision of faculty members, to investigate and litigate claims of innocence from people incarcerated in prisons in Wisconsin and other states. When they graduate, students are armed with the practical, hands-on knowledge they have acquired through the law-in-

action method of learning. Dean Davis said he regularly hears from employers that students from the law school “seem better prepared to ‘hit the ground running’ than their counterparts.” This is made evident by the class of 2005’s 93% employment rate. (Of the remaining 7%, only % were unemployed, with 6% not seeking employment because they were in grad school, raising families, or preparing for the bar exam.) Of those employed, 57% were working in private practice, earning, on average, $89,666 per year. In the U.S. News & World Report’s 2008 listing of the top law schools in the country, the University of Wisconsin was ranked 3st. In 2006, the entering class (the class of 2009) had an average LSAT score of 6 and a median GPA of 3.53. The 283 admitted students represented 9 undergraduate institutions. In his letter to prospective students, Davis stresses the importance of the school’s location. As the capital city of Wisconsin, Madison affords students access to the state legislature as well as state and federal courts and an abundance of legal offices. On the net University of Wisconsin Law School law.wisc.edu Law in Action law.wisc.edu/Davislawinactionessay.htm City of Madison, Wisconsin www.ci.madison.wi.us

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