A visit by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is planned for April at the School of Law.
The concept is simple: Teach students the basics and teach them early.
Starting this fall, first-year law students will take a "lawyering" class designed to introduce them to legal research, writing, ethics and advocacy.
"The idea is to get it across to them upfront and early," said law dean Michael Hoeflich.
Each aspect of the course has been taught in different pieces, but the law faculty thought it would be a good idea to get the basics under way early.
"There's been a great deal of concern in legal education to make programs oriented to help students when they get out," Hoeflich said. "We want them to get ethics and professionalism right from the first day we arrive."
Law professor Mike Davis, a former dean of the school, will teach the course with help from three practicing attorneys.
Students will attend a large lecture-type class and then break into small groups for discussion.
It's basically an introductory class on how to be a lawyer.
The lawyering class is one of a few developments the school is looking forward to this year.
Work also is under way on a collaborative effort with Emporia State University to offer a new degree program melding law and library sciences.
If the Kansas Board of Regents approves the program, it would be offered next spring.
Students would earn a master's degree in legal information management. Classes would be taught at KU, Emporia and the Edwards Campus in Overland Park.
Officials also have kicked around the idea of other possible class sites but have not made any final decisions.
Hoeflich and other administrative leaders also are looking forward to a visit next spring by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Steve McAllister, associate dean for academic affairs, clerked for Thomas and says the high court justice brought a lot to Green Hall during his visit in 1996.
For example, he made time to visit with students, McAllister said.
Georgann Eglinski, associate dean for administration, said Thomas was "very accessible to students. He was wonderfully interested in the students and wonderfully available."
In addition to making appearances in classes, Thomas will judge the school's moot court final rounds.
Also on the horizon is a symposium in February sponsored by the editors and members of the Kansas Law Review about "The Third Way," a new mode of thinking about government supported by Labour Party leader Tony Blair of Great Britain and President Clinton.
McAllister said four or five "top-notch" professors and, perhaps, a judge will present ideas about labor law, environmental law and health and welfare issues.
The Kansas Law Review, KU's scholarly journal focusing on law, will publish articles generated from the symposium, McAllister said.
Meanwhile, Hoeflich has agreed to stay on as dean for another year.
He had planned to step down June 30 from his administrative duties, but a search for his replacement didn't turn up any candidates who met the school's criteria. The search has been reconstituted, he said. Hoeflich plans to stay on the faculty when he leaves the deanship.
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