The National Jurist has named Phoenix School of Law (PSL) one of the country’s 20 most innovative law schools and will be featured in the Back to School issue in the August edition of its preLaw magazine. More than 40 schools submitted nominations to be considered for how each is innovating their curriculum. Many schools are experimenting with everything from boot camps, distance learning, to their creative use of technologies, and mentoring programs. “We were surprised and impressed by the level of innovation today,” said Jack Crittenden, Editor In Chief of The National Jurist. “Legal educators are no longer just talking about change — they are taking the first steps to make it happen.”

PSL was in large part named as one of the country’s most innovative law schools due to its General Practice Skills (GPS) “capstone course”. The course began in 2007 and was designed to teach the skills and values needed by lawyers to be successful in the practice of law.  The PSL GPS course was selected as a winner of the E.Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award in 2009.  This is an award presented by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Professionalism. Further, the GPS course consists of six two-week modules.  Each module is taught by a team of two practicing lawyers under the direction of a full-time faculty director and an assistant director. The modules cover the skills and values needed for the professional practice of law in the areas of law office management, family practice, representing creditors and debtors,  representing small businesses, estate planning, criminal law practice, and personal injury practice.  In the context of each module students are taught and practice the skills and professional values identified as essential by the MacCrate Report (1992), the Carnegie Report (2007), and a survey taken of Arizona attorneys.

The GPS course is designed as a single semester, required, six credit, pass/fail course which meets twice each week for a three hour period.  In 2010 a survey was taken of alumni who had graduated from Phoenix School of Law and had been in the practicing community at least two years. Eighty-six percent of the alumni responders agreed that the GPS course was achieving its goal of helping them with the essential skills and values expected of attorneys in the legal community. “We are honored to have PSL named as one of the ‘Most Innovative Law Schools’ in the country. Our ability to preserve some of the fundamental teachings of the law discipline all while adding a fresh, outside-the-box perspective to our curriculum speaks to the inclusion of diversity that rests at the core of PSL’s mission,” stated Shirley Mays Dean of Phoenix School of Law.

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