The Foundations of Practice Program is a voluntary professional development program that encourages students to take advantage of important resources to supplement their classroom education at every stage of their law school career. The Program is designed to guide students’ professional formation by encouraging the transition from law student to competent and self-directed lawyer. The Program’s varied components help students to build the foundational competencies required for success and satisfaction in the legal profession. As students take increasing responsibility for their own professional development and become more self-directed in their learning, they are better equipped to acquire and develop the competencies they need to serve clients and the legal system. The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Professionalism awarded the Foundations of Practice Program the E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award in 2018.
The 1L Foundations of Practice Program for first-year law students, which centers on the Inns of Court Program, encourages students to develop a wide array of critical professional skills through Inns of Court sessions, Academic Excellence Workshops, one-on-one conferences with Writing Center Fellows, Career Center workshops and individual counseling sessions, health and wellness programs, cultural competency programs, and advice from practicing attorneys. Students who successfully complete the program requirements by the end of the first year of law school are awarded the Dean’s Recognition for Professional Development in recognition of their commitment to self-directed professional development.
The Upper-Level Foundations of Practice Program builds on the 1L program by encouraging students to continue their self-directed professional development and to strengthen the skills they began to cultivate as 1Ls. It features a more flexible set of requirements, which enables students to tailor their participation based on their individual career goals and interests. Students advance the competencies introduced in the 1L program by attending upper-level professional development programs, health and wellness and cultural competency programs, Writing Center appointments, and Career Center workshops and counseling, and by continuing to build professional relationships. The requirements also include the completion of one semester of experiential learning. Students who complete the Upper-Level program requirements by graduation are awarded the Dean’s Commendation for Advanced Professional Development in recognition of their continuing commitment to self-directed professional development.