Before you register for courses for the 2012-2013 academic year, you should meet with your faculty advisor, or another faculty member, to plan your course selections for your second and third years of law school. Your faculty advisor, or another faculty member, will assist you in selecting courses that best meet your specific academic and professional needs. STEPPS is a required course for students at California Western School of Law and is taken during the second year.
A detailed description of STEPPS can be found under the “General Description” link. As described there, STEPPS will be an interactive course in which students will learn by doing and receiving feedback. For the weekly Law Office segment of the course, students will be in classes of no more than 16 students. Students will work in teams to produce much of the skills work, although all written work will be produced individually. Students will have the opportunity to see professional responsibility issues arise in the context of the cases they are handling. At the end of the course, students will have a portfolio of written and demonstrative work to show potential employers. In addition, students may also have a clearer idea of the practice areas they want to pursue in their internships and in law practice.
On the other hand, STEPPS will require a full year commitment from everyone who enrolls. The course is a 6 unit course that spans 2 trimesters. STEPPS will require active participation by every member of the Law Office. Students will work on a variety of cases involving both transactional and litigation work. The focus of the course will be on professional responsibility, prevention, problem solving, and alternative dispute resolution, and not trial skills: CWSL has an excellent trial skills program.
Some may be concerned about the 6 units required for the program. Students will learn basic skills in client counseling, interviewing, negotiation, mediation, prevention, and problem solving. To get coverage of any of these topics in another course, a student would have to take a course for 2 or 3 credits. After leaving STEPPS, students will be able to bypass the introductory courses in those subjects and take more advanced alternative dispute resolution or skills courses. Even if a student does not take more advanced courses, the student will leave STEPPS with basic skills needed to embark on a successful professional career. In addition, students will be able to supplement their learning by taking courses such as Advanced Legal Skills and Problem Solving and Preventive Law.