Environment, Curriculum and Faculty: What Makes Faulkner the Law School for You?
By Charles Campbell, Interim Dean and Associate Professor of Law & Layne Keele, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Law
When searching for a law school, students and parents want nothing but the best – they want to attend the law school that will best prepare them for their future career. But what makes a law school one of the best? Is it the faculty? Is it the curriculum? Is it turning out practice-ready lawyers who are not only primed to be successful, but eager to serve their communities?
We believe it’s not just one thing that makes Faulkner Law a unique law school, but it is instead the result of combining a Christian environment with a rigorous curriculum and a fully-devoted faculty.
The Key to Creating an Exceptional Law School
Creating a Collaborative Environment in Which Students Thrive
You’ll often hear our faculty and students referred to as the Faulkner Family, and this is exactly the environment we strive to create as a small school. With faculty and staff who embrace students as a family in a welcoming and supportive environment, we truly believe this atmosphere provides enormous opportunity for our students to learn and grow.
Within this environment, we’ve created a space for multiple voices to be heard. It’s a place where students are encouraged to rely on each other, help one another learn, and ask questions of each other. This kind of collaboration and civil discourse is essential in the practice of law, and students must engage with difficult questions and matters in which reasonable people disagree in a way that cultivates an understanding and appreciation for one another.
For this reason, a student might disagree emphatically with the policy choices of a fellow student in the afternoon class, then have dinner with them that night. Faulkner Law views these differing opinions as being a way to foster collegiality rather than to foment hostility.
The Challenging Curriculum
Foundations of Law and Foundations of the Legal Profession
One of the most significant features of the Faulkner Law curriculum is our first-year courses: “Foundations of Law,” and “Foundation of the Legal Profession.” Early on in their studies, our students engage with deep questions and think about their ethical obligations as a lawyer.
In the Foundations of Law course, students are looking at some of the larger questions about the law: what is law, what is the nature of law, what are the limits on law? These are questions that really make one assess where the law comes from and why it exists at all. We believe engaging with these deeper questions gives students a better understanding of the system, especially as it changes over time.
In the Foundations of the Legal Profession course, students learn what it means to be a part of an ancient and learned profession, and what role civic engagement and community service can and should play in lawyers’ lives. At the same time, the course aims to encourage students to think about a career in law, not only from the perspective of what they want to do, but also from an ethical perspective.
A Curriculum that Provides Opportunities to Practice
Another feature of the Faulkner Law curriculum is that we provide our students with opportunities to practice law in the real world before graduating. For example, we have our clinics and Field Placement Program, which are very robust. We have three clinics that give students a chance to meet with real clients and address real legal needs in the community while under faculty supervision. This is a great experience for students who want to learn what lawyers do on a day-to-day basis, but it’s an important service to the community as well.
Being in the capital city of Montgomery, Alabama, gives our Field Placement Program a unique advantage. While students are able to earn credits for working under supervising lawyers, they have the ability to work with legislators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, civil litigators, dealmakers, and judges all over the Montgomery area. Due to our location, we have the ability to place students in a number of places, including the Alabama Supreme Court, federal district court, state trial and appellate courts, public defenders, district attorneys, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and law firms of all sizes.
These placement opportunities give them a chance to experience different kinds of law practice in order to help them decide whether or not that’s something they would like to engage in full time. Many state agencies in the city not only love working with our students, but view it as an opportunity themselves.
Rigorous Writing & Professional Development Requirement
Lawyers do a tremendous amount of research and writing, and our Rigorous Writing Requirement and Professional Development Requirement make certain that we turn out lawyers who are competent in those key areas. We must ensure our students are able to communicate effectively, and these requirements give students a chance to demonstrate their proficiency in research and written communication.
Our rigorous writing requirement is going to be the longest, most difficult research paper that most of our students will ever write. We’ve found this to be the best preparation for the kind of writing lawyers are going to do out in the real world. It demands they do diligent research, present their arguments clearly, and tell the reader where they are getting the information they’re relying on – all things judges and clients want to see in a written legal work product.
The Professional Development Requirement is one of the most popular parts of the curriculum, and the first part of the requirement is an Advanced Practicum, where in a classroom setting, students are engaging in the day-to-day projects of practicing lawyers, including advanced legal research through both electronic and public domain sources, as well as contract drafting based on situations that are common out in the real world.
The other part of the Professional Development Requirement is called Experiential Learning, which includes our clinics–mediation clinic, family violence clinic, and elder law clinic–and field placements where students are out working with live litigants.
While a law school curriculum must prepare a student to pass the bar exam, we believe we must go one step further and prepare them for the practice of law and life as a lawyer.
A Faculty that Genuinely Cares for Their Students
Though we’re proud of the fact that each of our professors has practiced law and that we have a faculty full of scholars, casebook and textbook authors, and members that speak all over the country on their expertise, this is not what sets them apart. What makes our faculty stand out is the fact that they love what they do with their time.
Teaching is important to our faculty, and they’re excited to facilitate a student’s learning process; to challenge students and watch the transformation that takes place when a student begins to understand a key concept.
As professors, we want to help students any way that we can. We’re eager for them to come by to discuss things they don’t understand, to get advice about career placement, or chat through any other areas where they need guidance. But along with this desire to see them succeed professionally, we have a genuine care for their personal and spiritual well-being as well.
Our low student to faculty ratio, which in the 2017-2018 school year was 7.7 to 1, allows us to devote the necessary time and attention to each and every student. While we believe it’s essential to have faculty who are experts, at Faulkner Law, we have accessible faculty, and you don’t get that everywhere.
When searching for an exceptional law school, there are many considerations to take into account, but if you believe a law school should prepare a student for a life of service and leave you practice-ready on day one, Faulkner Law may be the place for you.
Learn More About Faulkner Law in Montgomery, Alabama
Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law is a small, Christian law school in Montgomery, Alabama with a mission to provide students with a unique advantage through the rigorous curriculum and hands-on experience. While providing an education anchored by not only intellect but also character and service, Faulkner’s Jones School of Law seeks students who will not only succeed academically but who also have a desire to use their legal degree to seek justice and serve their communities – wherever that may be. Contact Faulkner Law today at (334) 386-7910.