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Journal of Legal Education


law teaching, pretrial practice


With a colleague, Jack Guttenberg, I team-teach a four-credit, one-semester simulation course at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law called Pretrial Practice. We have taught Pretrial Practice seven times since we first offered it in the spring of 1988. The course takes students through the process of preparing two cases for trial, beginning with initial client interviews and culminating in one case with a settlement negotiation and, in the other, a final pretrial conference with a local judge.Pretrial Practice provides students with an opportunity, in one semester, to engage in all the activities necessary to develop and prepare a case for trial in a law office setting. Very few of our law school's courses give students a chance to prepare cases for litigation. Most of our skills courses introduce students to the process of trying a case or presenting an appellate argument. These courses begin with a prepared set of facts presented in a simulated record. The students have little or no opportunity to establish additional facts to fill out the record. Nor do they have an opportunity to talk with a client and determine the client's concerns and goals. The purpose of these courses is to teach litigation skills, not to teach students what to do before they walk into the courtroom.