Georgetown is an institution devoted to the public interest and steeped in the Jesuit tradition that embraces a justice mission. Over the past five years, Georgetown has studied ways in which the curriculum can be improved. That work, which builds on our justice mission, our historic strengths in linking the practical and theoretical, and our presence in Washington, D.C., has culminated in a number of initiatives designed to prepare thoughtful, practice-ready, ethical lawyers with an appreciation for their role in the justice system.
Curricular development at Georgetown is guided by a desire to ensure that Georgetown graduates
- Accomplish a high degree of competency in legal analysis, problem solving, and practice-related skills;
- Develop autonomy in applying legal principles in basic contexts important to the public, the clients they serve and the work they undertake, and in reflecting on their experience in such a way that they can develop expertise and be life-long learners;
- Use their learning for the greater good with an appreciation for the character of the legal profession and their place in it and a commitment to improve the legal system through service to the public, to their clients and through maintaining high standards;
- Face and overcome such key challenges conducting themselves in accordance with a lawyer’s ethical responsibilities in the face of pressure to the contrary, to participate in their communities and pursue justice despite lack of remuneration for that work;
- Overcome such misconceptions and habits of thinking so to be sensitive to diverse communities, and appreciative of the cross-cultural and international dimensions of law practice.
Every year Georgetown offers well over 500 courses, permitting students not only to explore a wide range of doctrinal courses but also to study specialized areas of law in seminars taught by experts in the field. We recognize that in additional to substantive expertise, lawyers need to have a broad range of skills. Therefore, we offer courses at Georgetown that focus on leadership, judgment, mindfulness, problem solving and negotiation and counseling. We expose our students to technological advances that are likely to have an impact on the provision of legal services. We have a number of interdisciplinary courses that give students insight into other paradigms. We offer international courses that give law students an appreciation for global issues and cultural competence. Currently we are building more problem-based learning and simulation into the traditional curriculum.
Georgetown has the largest in-house clinical program in the country. Students work under the supervision of full time, tenure-track faculty and reflect on their experience every step of the way. Georgetown also trains future clinicians through its clinical fellowship program and the companion pedagogy class. We offer a Summer Institute on Clinical Teaching designed to provide mid-career clinicians with new insights into clinical pedagogy.
In addition to our excellent and extensive clinical program, Georgetown has launched a new and innovative curriculum of over thirty practicum courses that are intentionally designed to provide students with opportunities to connect theory and practice. These courses link substantive law with practical experience in the field. As students study the doctrine, they also see how that doctrine is interpreted within the actual practice of law. Lessons from the field are incorporated into the traditional classroom component. Georgetown ensures this quality interplay through careful selection of the courses and training in effective pedagogical practices for the faculty involved.
We have also in recent years significantly expanded the number of students participating in our externship program while, at the same time, strengthening the program’s academic focus by adding book-end classes at the beginning and end of each externship and requiring one-on-one meetings with a faculty member to discuss the goals the student hopes to realize through the externship.
As we have developed our curriculum, we have consciously made use of the Washington, D.C. community with its multitude of resources for students that allow them to explore their professional identities as lawyers, connect with people in the field and develop the skills that will assist them as they practice law. Because of its location and because of the composition of its full-time and adjunct faculty, Georgetown is well-positioned to be a school that allows students to study law, not in isolation, but as the product of a range of government processes, both at the local, the national, and the international level. Thus, we think of Georgetown as a place well-situated for the study of “law and government,” and this recognition helps shape our curriculum.
In short, Georgetown is committed to a curriculum that no longer distinguishes between clinical and non-clinical courses but offers students a wide range of choices from courses that explore the theoretical underpinnings of law to courses that highlight how that theory is translated into the day to day practice of law.