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A professor teachings a STEPPS Program class

STEPPS Program (Skills Training for Ethical Practice and Professional Satisfaction)

The innovative STEPPS Program stands on five basic principles.

  1. Focus on the knowledge, skills and values necessary to the practice of law.
  2. Integrate experienced practitioners into the mission of legal education.
  3. Sequence the curriculum so that each phase of the curriculum builds on the previous phase and prepares for the next phase.
  4. Utilize innovative teaching and learning techniques.
  5. Foster the development of professional identity.

As a student in the STEPPS Program…

  • You will learn the rules of professional responsibility and norms of ethical behavior in the legal profession.
  • You will develop the skills of legal writing and research, interviewing, counseling, negotiation, drafting. 
  • You will learn through experience by working on simulated cases where actors play the role of clients.
  • You will be exposed to the values of collaboration, collegiality, and professionalism through interactions with an experienced lawyer.
  • You will begin to develop a professional identity through a series of reflective assignments.
  • You will have the opportunity to develop under the coaching of a mentor.
  • You will explore issues of career satisfaction.

The Structure of the STEPPS Program:

The STEPPS Program consists of one four-credit course taken in either the fall or spring of second year.  Students meet three times each week.  Two of the meetings are held in a lecture format with Professor Casey, and focuses on the substantive law of professional responsibility.  In the third meeting students meet in law offices comprised of approximately twelve students led by an experienced lawyer.  The third meeting focuses on the application of legal knowledge through a series of specific lawyering tasks.

The Areas of focus for the STEPPS Program:

  • Substantive law governing lawyers, including the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility, the California Rules of Professional Conduct, the Model Code of Judicial Conduct, court cases, and ethical opinions related to professional responsibility and ethics.
  • Legal skills, including legal analysis, legal research, different types of legal writing, interviewing, counseling, negotiation, oral advocacy, legal drafting, problem solving, and strategic planning.
  • Values of the legal profession, including collegiality, collaboration, preventive practice, integrity, diligence, and reflection.
  • Career satisfaction, including career choices, matching personal expectations to career trajectories, and the value of pro bono public service.

The Director of the STEPPS Program

Professor Timothy Casey serves as the Director of the STEPPS Program and Professor in Residence at California Western School of Law.  Professor Casey brings experience as a practitioner and experience as a teacher to the STEPPS Program.  He works closely with members of the faculty to develop and implement the curriculum and meets weekly with the adjunct professors who serve as supervising attorneys in the small law offices.  In addition to his duties with the STEPPS Program, Professor Casey teaches a seminar in Surveillance, Civil Liberties and National Intelligence. He also serves on the Ethics Committee of the San Diego County Bar Association and as a board member for both local and international non profit organizations.