The University of New Hampshire School of Law (formerly Franklin Pierce Law Center) has been an innovator from the start.

Founded in 1973 by Robert Rines, a patent attorney, MIT professor, and inventor who held nearly 100 patents, the school has a strong focus on entrepreneurship and practice-driven legal education. To that end, Rines sought faculty members with extensive real-world experience – a practice that continues to this day.

For example, the school’s internationally renowned IP program features an innovative curriculum with a large number of drafting, negotiation, writing and transaction-based courses. Students design a curricular path that combines fundamental IP knowledge with basic skills relevant to their chosen area of practice. A wide variety of clinics and the school’s strong externships program provide real-world experience for students of every specialization.

But the capstone of UNH Law’s client-ready approach is its Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program, a unique bar-practicum created jointly by the New Hampshire Supreme CourtChief Justice Linda Dalianis, the law school, the state bar association and the state board of bar examiners.

The Daniel Webster Scholar program eliminates the two-day bar exam and instead in its place offers a two-year exam: Students counsel clients, appear before judges, and develop their skills and judgment in both simulated and clinical settings; their written and video portfolios are examined each semester by bar examiners. In short, they practice law before they graduate.

The latest edition of Law School Confidential describes the program as “the future of legal education.” Lloyd Bond, a co-author of the Carnegie Report, has said the program “fuses instruction and assessment in the most intimate and integrated way that I have ever seen. … It’s two years of what we actually recommended in (the Carnegie Report), integrated in such a way that truly instruction and assessment are indistinguishable.”