Family Restoration and Law School Best Practices

Practical application and professional identity formation, though recommended by the 2007 Carnegie Report as part of a law school's best practices, is something that most attorneys do not begin to learn until they are in the practice of law.  Here at Regent University School of Law students have been learning both these things for quite some time. Since 1997 students in Family Law have been practically applying what they are learning in class in several ways, and that practice has been simultaneously forming their professional identity. 

Each student is presented with the assignment of drafting a Reconciliation Agreement for a simulated client involved in a troubled marriage.  The client has lost trust in his or her spouse, but does not want to rush to divorce as three small children are involved.  Understanding that their futures are at stake as well, this client requests an attorney who can work with him or her to provide legal remedies to foster family restoration.   More on how this is appropriate and important in law school, and to attorneys in general can be found at http://www.regentfamilyrestoration.blogspot.com/search?q=Reconciliation.  As students work through this simulation, they examine their own objectives in the practice of law, and form convictions on how law should be practiced, particularly regarding families.  Their professional identity is often largely formed and informed by this assignment.  An article has also been published describing this process for attorneys in the Virginia Bar Association Journal at
Understanding and Encouraging Realistic Reconciliation in an Age of Divorce, 32 VBA J. 8 (June/July 2006).

Furthermore, each semester students in Family law must prepare a statutory compilation of state family law regulations, preferably for the jurisdiction in which the student plans to practice law.   This assignment alongside the Reconciliation Agreement assignment often surprises students that their own state code does not foster family breakdown, as they may have heard, but actually seeks to find ways to stabilize and strengthen families.  More on how this affects the students can be found at http://regentfamilyrestoration.blogspot.com/2010/01/state-family-codes-can-restore-families.html.

Students are able to learn, form their own convictions, and then demonstrate how to analyze and assess both the nature and the regulation of marriage, family, divorce, and parenting from a restorative perspective by the end of this course.  Being informed by biblical principles throughout the course adds depth to the students' own personal practice of law from an ethical, moral and formative standpoint.   As a result, students grow as people and future lawyers by demonstrating an ability to accurately apply legal and biblical principles to actual problem settings.  In this context, students demonstrate how to learn and evaluate contemporary rules, assumptions and trends in family law in light of biblical principles and standards, and put them into practice in law by the completion of this course.

Carnegie's suggestions for practical application and professional identity formation have been a part of the Family Law curriculum at Regent University for quite some time, and as a result the public is better served by knowledgeable attorneys with a holistic perspective who can actually help them legally and make their lives better because of their practice of law.

1 comment:

  1. Working on a real time scenario for saving marriages, great way to get hands on exposure towards mediation.