January 05, 2015
Tulane Law students needn’t wait for a summer internship or their first job as a new lawyer to interview witnesses, argue motions in court or shepherd a major transaction through to completion.
More than 140 second- and third-year students are handling those kinds of assignments during an intensive week of training with some of the nation’s top lawyers and judges at Tulane’s 4th Annual Intersession boot camp.
The students have returned to campus a week before spring classes start, and more than 80 lawyers from across the United States are volunteering their time to simulate real-world lawyering in the areas of civil litigation, business transactions and criminal pretrial practice. The innovative program has proved popular with both students who immerse themselves in the skills training and lawyers who say it responds to critical needs in the profession.
Tulane Law students await check-in for the 2015 Intersession boot camp, a week packed with intensive skills training with top lawyers and judges from New Orleans and around the country.
“We really see this as a model for the future of legal education because it really is a unique and exciting partnership between lawyers, judges and academics in training the next generation of lawyers in a way that law schools have not done in the past,” said Tulane Law Dean David Meyer, who led the boot camp’s launch in 2012.
The program is the showpiece of Tulane’s increasingly rich array of experiential learning opportunities designed to equip new law graduates with practical skills they can use immediately to assist clients.
After the 2014 Intersession, participants were calling it some of the best education they’d received.
“What I really learned is the way a lawyer approaches a case and the professionalism required and the time required beforehand, before you ever get into the courtroom,” said Erim Sarinoglu (L ’14), now a lawyer in Memphis, Tennessee. He went through the criminal pretrial practice track, which culminates with arguing on behalf of the prosecution or in defense of a client before an Orleans Parish District Court judge.
Civil litigation students interview clients and witnesses, draft motions and complete the week with arguments before U.S. District judges. And business transaction students work through the steps of negotiating a purchase agreement, performing due diligence and preparing documents to complete a major deal: the 2014 exercise was the sale of a craft brewery to a larger company.
Students in the civil litigation track of Tulane Law School’s Intersession boot camp start the week by practicing client interviews in a wrongful death case.
New York attorney Michelle Bergman (L/MBA ’94), a former general counsel for the Duane Reade drugstore chain who helped launch the transactions track, called the skills training “very valuable” and said it’s “a part of the change that I think is very important for the whole profession.”
Instructors include top litigators such as Lawrance Bohm (L ’00) of California, who recently helped win a $185 million damage award for a client in a pregnancy discrimination suit; partners from the Texas-based commercial litigation boutique Susman Godfrey; and and Cynthia Shoss (L ’74), who co-leads the insurance transactions & products practice at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan in New York.
Enthusiastic support also comes from alumni practicing in New Orleans, Lynn Luker (L '81, LLM '85, LLM '92), who has her own firm, and Chris Teske (L '00), a member of Gieger, Laborde & Laperouse, who co-lead the civil litigation track.
Retired attorney Joseph Ettinger (L '56), who established a nationally known criminal defense practice in Chicago, was so impressed by the initial boot camp that he contributed an endowed gift to help sustain it and returns each year to teach.