By John MassonMarch 13, 2013
It looks a little like a clinic. It looks a little like an externship. But the new Michigan Law Transactional Lab, coming this fall, is actually neither.
The concept is elegant, if relatively new in the field of legal education. The Transactional Lab's founding director, Michigan Law Clinical Assistant Prof. Michael Bloom, is establishing relationships with a handful of blue-chip corporate clients who will work with Michigan Law students, supervised by Prof. Bloom, on actual transactional projects.
The companies get high-quality work that adds value without the hassle of administering their own externship programs. And the students learn the skills they'll need to excel as summer and junior associates at law firms, as well as develop relationships with in-house counsel that can serve them well later, as their careers develop.
Prof. Bloom, who helped establish a similar program at the University of Chicago Law School in 2009, is looking forward to fitting the Lab into Michigan's robust set of offerings that emphasize practical lawyering skills.
"The big thing about coming to Michigan is this: we have so many exceptional clinical opportunities for students to do transactional work, like the Entrepreneurship Clinic, the International Transactions Clinic, and the Community and Economic Development Clinic," Prof. Bloom said. "One of the perceived shortcomings of legal education in general has been a dearth of transactional education generally, and indeed of practical, experiential education as well."
The Transactional Lab aims to take a swipe at both of those perceived problems, Prof. Bloom said. Students selected for the four-credit course will meet once a week for a two-hour class period concentrating on transactional lawyering skills and current issues with the projects they're working on. Outside of class, Prof. Bloom said, students will spend several more hours each week under his supervision, working as members of smaller teams on client projects.
"This is an opportunity for students to work with big, well-established blue-chip companies, and get a sense for how the legal teams work there," he said. "That's one of the ways the Lab neatly nestles alongside the Law School's transactional clinics, with each focusing on different client bases."
Prof. Bloom said he expects to limit enrollment to about a dozen students for the Lab's first semester, fall 2013, expanding to as many as 20 by winter semester 2014. Those students interested in the Lab are strongly encouraged to take either Transactional Contracts or Transactional Drafting before signing up.
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