News - Capital University Law School

Revamped Concentration Program Responds to Today’s Legal Profession

10/9/2017  - 

JD concentrations have become an increasingly an important aspect of legal education and Capital University Law School has recently reexamined its concentration program with an eye towards enhancing our student’s knowledge, skills, and values. The result of this process is a newly-streamlined set of five concentration offerings that better reflect student interest, the school’s educational goals, and the needs of an evolving legal profession.

According to Professor James R. Beattie, Jr., the restructuring of Capital’s concentrations was part of a larger effort to revise and revamp the school’s upper-level curriculum in a comprehensive way.

“As students reach upper-level coursework, they begin to see the connections between what they previously considered discrete content areas, and they realize that it’s really important to discern the connections: that sometimes torts will spill over into contracts, and contracts will spill over into property,” Prof. Beattie said. The revisions are aimed at reinforcing the idea that the law is, as Prof. Beattie describes it, “a seamless whole.”

“The new concentrations are designed to help Capital graduates succeed in a quickly evolving legal market,” said Dean Rachel M. Janutis. “The concentrations will expose students to the knowledge, skills and values they need to succeed in areas of law which are growing today while also helping graduates understand how their skills and experiences are transferable to new and emerging fields where they may be working tomorrow.”

Capital Law School’s faculty wanted to reinforce learning in skills areas like writing and oral advocacy, and also bolster the transition from classroom to practice, “placing students in a situation of attorney-client,” says Professor Beattie. On the values front, Professor Beattie and his colleagues sought opportunities for students to ask, “How do you become a professional? How do you relate to others and treat them with respect and dignity?”

These three priority areas drove the restructuring of Capital Law’s concentrations. Professors looked at best practices among peer institutions and found that most offered five, in contrast to Capital’s 11. They saw an opportunity to increase the concentrations’ focus while making the five new concentrations more focused in their design and desired outcomes. They were also careful to preserve the substantive content of the previous 11 concentrations. Capital’s new offerings are:

Each starts with a foundational course, like Family Law for “Children and Family Law” or Legislation for “Regulatory Law.” Each concentration includes an upper-level writing course, which meets requirements for graduation, as well as experiential coursework that enhances skills Capital grads will need in practice. Finally, each concentration includes a range of electives that allow students to target their concentration in much the same way the previous offerings did.

While four of the concentrations carry on the traditions of their predecessors, the “General Practice” concentration is new to Capital.

“We began to see that a larger segment of our graduates are practicing either solo or in small firms,” Beattie said. “We wanted to create a concentration that would better prepare them for this type of career.” The new concentration includes topics like practice management ad business and finance for lawyers.

Noting that the accrediting bodies like the American Bar Association will likely only increase their focus on knowledge, skill and values, Professor Beattie feels Capital is strongly situated with its new concentrations structures.

“We really think that this will give the students a multifaceted ability to know the law, its substance, to be able to really apply it through experiential classes, to have the skills they need to write and to speak – with a nice menu option of electives – and then to really apply all of it in an externship in a real-world setting,” he said.

Students currently pursuing an old concentration have three years to complete it. They can also use completed coursework toward one of the new concentrations.