January 05, 2016
Each January, second- and third-year students at Tulane Law School plunge into the new year with all the resolve of young law firm associates in their first week on the job.
That’s because Tulane’s Intersession boot camp creates precisely that sensation: immersing students in the spectrum of legal practice alongside veteran lawyers from across the country who donate their time to train a new generation of practitioners.
This fifth year of the program brought more than 120 students back to campus a week before regular classes, along with more than 60 seasoned attorneys, many of them Tulane Law alumni, including high-dollar litigators, solo practitioners, prosecutors and partners at multinational firms.
Students enroll in one of three tracks — civil litigation, criminal pre-trial practice or business transactions — and receive hands-on, small-group training that comes with daily assignments.
The fast-paced work runs the gamut: from interviewing witnesses and taking depositions to drafting court motions and contracts to arguing before a federal or state judge or shepherding a major business transaction to completion. Students in the civil and criminal law tracks end the week arguing before a judge in court.
“This is one of the best programs Tulane offers because it gives the student the practical experience of what they’re going to face,” said Warren Burns (L ’04), a founding partner of Burns Charest in Dallas and a repeat faculty member.
In their feedback afterward, students regularly call boot camp a valuable and necessary part of their experience, Burns said. And attorneys who serve as faculty members say they enjoy the opportunity, and it increasingly provides students a chance to interact with potential future employers.
“I am impressed every year with the quality of the students and the amount of work they put into the program,” Burns said.
The program is the showpiece of Tulane’s rich array of experiential learning opportunities designed to equip new law graduates with practical skills they can use immediately to assist clients.
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.