The University of New Mexico School of Law maintains a well-established tradition of experiential course-work. The 1L curriculum includes a first semester “Practicum” course where the students are exposed to practitioners from a variety of legal practice areas and an exploration of many of the practical and ethical issues that confront attorneys. The course also includes a community service component. Students are also required to complete a year-long course on “Elements of Legal Advocacy,” a challenging program focused on writing and oral advocacy skills.
Beyond the first year, all students are required to complete six hours in one semester in one of our in-house clinics: Community Lawyering, Law Practice, Southwest Indian Law, or Business and Tax. In clinic, students represent clients in court under the supervision of clinical faculty. The mandatory clinic experience ensures that all students receive practical training before leaving UNM Law to enter the profession.
In addition to the clinical requirement, students may earn credit hours in a field externship where they are placed with judges, government agencies, and public interest organizations. In addition, in our mediation externship, students under supervision may help mediate disputes for a local nonprofit organization or government agency. The externship program places over 40 students a semester currently.
Students also have the opportunity to gain practice experience in one of our “In Practice” courses. Our “Domestic Violence/Driving While Intoxicated” prosecution class offers eight students a semester the chance to practice as assistant district attorneys and prosecute cases in Metropolitan Court. Our “Criminal Law in Practice” class offers a similar experience with the offices of the District Attorney and Public Defender.
UNM Law also requires that all students complete a drafting course, where students will hone their skills in creating documents typical to a law practice setting. Our hope is that these mandatory and elective courses will give students valuable skills that they can carry forward into their careers post-graduation.