California Western -- Creative Problem Solving
Area of Concentration
Creative Problem Solving
For a printable PDF version of these concentration requirements, including the student application and an introduction to creative problem solving, please click here.
Law has become so enmeshed in our everyday lives that what were once clearly understood as legal problems have begun to lose their distinctiveness. Everyday issues of schooling, employment, health care, transportation, air and water quality, marital relations, and even parenting decisions involve significant legal components. The legal components, however, have become ever more thoroughly melded with the human/emotional/relational aspects of these problems in modern life. Because of the multifaceted nature of contemporary problems, how they are resolved may affect people’s long term personal and financial relationships, even their self-identity.
Today’s lawyers need training in skills that demand broader and deeper understanding of people, their problems, and the consequences of confronting those problems in narrow, legalistic ways. Lawyers of the future need training on how to think more broadly, more flexibly, more relationally and more preventively. The creative problem solving concentration is designed to focus students on opportunities for that kind of training at California Western.
Candidates for the Area of Concentration in Creative Problem Solving should file a Concentration Proposal with the academic director of the Center for Creative Problem Solving early in their second year of law school. The proposal must be filed before registration for the student’s fifth trimester.
The creative problem solving concentration requires successful completion of course work, scholarly writing, pro bono, and internship components.
I. Course Requirements
In addition to completing all courses required for graduation, candidates for this area of concentration must earn a minimum grade of 79 or higher in each of the courses selected from the requirements set out below.
The area of concentration will carry an Honors distinction where the combined average of the grades for the six courses is 85 or higher. Candidates must also satisfy the major research paper, internship and pro bono requirements set forth below. All decisions with respect to satisfaction of the requirements for the area of concentration will be made by the academic director of the Center for Creative Problem Solving.
(courses with * may fulfill the CWSL scholarly writing requirement)
A. Core Courses – Students Must Take Two
Problem Solving Skills & Theory
Problem Solving & Preventive Law*
Cross-Cultural Problem Identification
B. Related Courses – Students Must Take Four of the Following
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Business Organizations (Professor Johnson or Dessent)
Business Planning: Representing Modest Business Enterprises
Children & Families: Problem Solving & Advocacy through Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Community Organizing and Problem Solving
Cross-Cultural Negotiation and Dispute Resolution (offered as part of Chile Summer Program and London Summer Program)
Current Issues in Constitutional Law*
Health Law & Policy
International Labor & Employment Law*
Interviewing, Counseling, and Planning
Jurisprudence: Selected Topics
Law, Medicine & Public Policy
Mediation or Mediation Advocacy
Practicum Component (as part of the Chile Summer Program)
Problem Solving & Prevention in Health Care
Women & the Law*
II. Scholarly Writing Requirement
Each candidate is required to complete a scholarly writing paper in creative problem solving. A scholarly writing produced in any seminar may be counted so long as it applies a problem solving approach derived either from the content of required creative problem solving courses or from a recognized area of creative problem solving literature such as preventive law, therapeutic jurisprudence, etc. The proposed topic and approach must be submitted in writing to the creative problem solving concentration faculty advisor for approval at the same time it is submitted to the seminar professor or law review editor for approval. The completed paper must then be submitted to the concentration faculty advisor for certification that it meets the requirements stated in this paragraph.
III. Creative Problem Solving Pro Bono Experience
To fulfill the community pro bono requirement for this area of concentration, students must complete a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono work in any placement included in the California Western Pro Bono Honors Program. In addition, students must submit a total of four pages of description of instances where creative problem solving was effectively employed or where it could have beneficially been employed in their pro bono work. These descriptions should be submitted to the creative problem solving concentration faculty advisor. Ideally, the descriptions would be submitted in two parts: two pages at approximately the 25-hour mark and another two pages at approximately the 50-hour mark. However, the breakdown and timing of submissions is at the discretion of the concentration faculty advisor. In appropriate circumstances, retroactive descriptions applicable to previously completed pro bono experiences may qualify.
IV. Creative Problem Solving Internship
To fulfill the internship requirement, any internship arranged through the California Western Clinical Internship Program will qualify so long as the following requirements are met.
A. Students wishing to have their internship experiences qualify for creative problem solving concentration credit need to notify both the Internship Office and the concentration faculty advisor in advance so an appropriate internship supervisor may be assigned.
B. Second, students wishing to receive creative problem solving concentration credit need to submit a minimum of five pages of reflection on instances of/opportunities for creative problem solving in their internships. The timing and breakdown of the five pages (i.e., five 1-page submissions throughout the internship or one 5-page submission at the conclusion of the internship) is at the discretion of the internship supervisor. The written reflections are to be submitted to the students’ internship supervisors, who will forward approved reflections to the creative problem solving concentration faculty advisor for record-keeping purposes. All creative problem solving internships, both in-town and out-of-town, with be specifically assigned to supervisors who have volunteered to facilitate the creative problem solving aspects of the internship.
V. Co-Curricular Activities
Although not required, students are encouraged to participate in skills competitions in negotiation, client counseling, or mediation. They are also encouraged to attend meetings of groups that advance the goals or methods of creative problem solving.
VI. Faculty Advisor
Professor Thomas D. Barton