Independent and private for 160 years, we pride ourselves on experiential learning inside and outside the classroom. As a school historically centered around a hands-on educational program, we continue to hone our approach to preparing our graduates to be ready to work with real clients solving real legal problems. We are fortunate to be located in the capital of New York state – a learning laboratory for law students.
Our approach to experiential learning can be seen woven into all areas and all levels of the school.
Innovative teaching is critical to our efforts to create and foster experiential learning opportunities. The law school has important resources that assist faculty to deliver a program of instruction that gives students opportunities to learn from experience:
The Center for Excellence in Law Teaching (CELT) assists faculty to deliver a sound and innovative program of instruction, a part of which experiential learning is key. Internally for Albany Law School, CELT hosts faculty teaching workshops where faculty learn about creative ways to engage students and provide more experiential learning opportunities in the traditional classroom setting. Externally it sponsors conferences and offers a web-based clearinghouse for material on teaching, curriculum development and other legal education reform issues. Albany Law School’s Instructional Technology department provides additional resources for innovative teaching, including a Classroom Performance System, digital video recording allowing faculty to record simulated exercises, and state-of-the-art courtroom technology for litigation training.
With the help of these resources, experiential learning begins for students on their first day at Albany Law School. In the first-year Lawyering program, students are introduced to the essential skills needed to become a lawyer. In the second and third years, law students continue to apply classroom learning to situations faced by practicing lawyers by representing clients through the Clinic and Justice Center and the extensive Field Placement Program, through advanced simulation courses, problem-based courses and through other extra-curricular programs.
Albany Law School's lawyering program assigns first-year students to "firms" representing parties in a year-long simulated legal dispute, introducing the student to the legal system, ethics and the skills and values of the profession.
Advanced Simulation Courses
Many advanced courses are available to second and third-year students that require students to integrate doctrinal instruction with skills instruction and professionalism training. Simulation courses include Alternative Dispute Resolution, Advanced legal Writing, Appellate Practice, Client Interviewing & Counseling, Drafting, Fact Investigation, Mediation, Negotiating for Lawyers, Trial Practice I & II: Civil, and Trial Practice I & II: Criminal.
In problem-based courses, students learn about a subject in the context of complex, multifaceted, and realistic problems. Students learn by doing: that is, they learn by engaging in the professional practices that will be expected of them when they graduate from law school and become practicing lawyers. The goals of these courses are to help the students develop effective problem solving skills, self-directed learning, effective collaboration skills and intrinsic motivation. Problem-based courses like Legal Issues in Medicine, Art and Entertainment Law, Estate Planning II, and Land Use Planning all require students to learn doctrine and apply it to real or simulated legal and policy-related problems.
Under the direct supervision of highly experienced Supervising Attorney/Mentors, students spend 10 hours per week participating in the legal work of their chosen office among 140 placements. Given its location, Albany Law School offers an extensive variety of placements offering the opportunity to work with real clients solving real legal or policy-related problems.
The program allows students to spend a concentrated amount of time in the offices of counsel to federal and state goveenment agencies, executive branches and departments, and Congress and the state legislature. Students are placed under the supervision of an approved supervising attorney and faculty advisor.
The Summer in Government Field Placement Course offers students a unique opportunity to spend seven weeks working in the capital of New York state under the supervision of a lawyer-mentor working side-by-side with policymakers, decision makers and other lawyers on a wide range of law and public policy issues.
Second-year and third-year students immerse themselves in exceptional judicial, governmental and public interest offices for an intense semester- long placement experience.
Students can also get additional experiential learning opportunities through our many extra-curricular programs:
During the 2010-2011 year, more than 300 law students provided more than 4,200 hours of voluntary service to the community, serving thousands of clients in pro se divorce, prisoner reentry, tax, and other matters. Albany Law School’s program has been featured as a national model by the ABA Pro Bono Center and PS Law Net.
Through the Albany Law School Moot Court Program, more than 50 percent of the law school's students receive intensive training in oral and written appellate advocacy, trial advocacy, and client counseling and negotiation skills. Participation in Moot Court prepares students who represent Albany Law School in the most prestigious regional, national and international appellate competitions. Typically Albany Law School students compete in eight national competitions per year, including the 24 year-old Annual Domenick L. Gabrielli Family Law Competition.
Albany Law School was the first law school to produce a student-edited legal periodical. Through the three student-edited journals, students edit and collaborate with authors around the world to produce the Albany Law Review, Albany Law Journal of Science and Technology, and the Albany Government Law Review.
Student members of the editorial board participate in workshops and edits submissions to refine their skills in legal writing, research and group dynamics.
This 12-month fellowship, the most prestigious awarded to an Albany Law student, provides a generous stipend for a current Albany Law School student to research cutting-edge issues in aging or health law and policy.