Awards, Competition Wins and Top Rankings Cap Off Anniversary Year at Fowler School of Law

Chapman University’s Dale E. Fowler School of Law is on such a winning streak, it just might have to add another trophy case or two before long.

As it marked the commencement of its 20th graduating class, the law school received three new honors, including news that its student competition teams placed in the top tier of the first national American Bar Association Competition Championship.

Such recognition is testament to the swift growth of the school and the caliber of its students, alumni and faculty, says Dean Matt Parlow.

“As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our first graduating class, it’s impressive to see how far this great law school has come in such a short period of time. The success of our alumni and the most recent recognition by the ABA and PreLaw Magazine demonstrate our exciting upward trajectory at the Fowler School of Law,” Parlow says.

Training Practice-Ready Lawyers

Preparing law students to be practice-ready has long been one of the distinguishing features of the school, so the ABA win may seem like a natural fit. But it takes an enormous amount of work and dedication, says Fowler Law Professor Nancy L. Schultz, who directs the Competitions Program at Fowler.

“There are lots of evening and weekend practices. The students all work very hard to learn and to turn in these kinds of quality performances,” Schultz says.

Thanks to those hard-working students and mentoring faculty, the school placed seventh in the ABA competition championship, which included more than 1,300 students from 156 law schools. The win is based on law schools’ cumulative scores earned by student teams that compete in the ABA’s four practical-skills competitions, including Negotiation, Client Counseling, Arbitration and an Appellate Advocacy Competition.

The contests create real-world experiences for students, Schultz says.

Fundamental Skills

“All of the skills involved are fundamental to being a lawyer. We try to enter competitions that test many different skills. Obviously, client interviewing and counseling and negotiation skills are important to all lawyers. Courtroom skills, at both the trial and appellate level, are also important. Arbitration works much like a trial — they examine witnesses and give opening statements and closing arguments,” Schultz says. “These competitions allow students to test their research, writing and oral communication skills against those of students from all over the country, and sometimes the world.”

In addition, this spring student teams also won the Tulane Professional Football Negotiation Competition and the Show Me Challenge, a competition in which the students get to practice jury selection and opening-statement skills.

From left, Caitlin Harrington, Rick Reneer Jr., Caitlin Ramsey, and alumni coach Clay-Michael O’Neal at the national Show Me Challenge.

The competition successes arrive alongside news of Fowler Law’s high rankings issued by PreLaw Magazine, which recently awarded the school an A grade for practical training. In addition, PreLaw ranked the school 23rd for practical training.

Praise for Externships

The Fowler School of Law launched its Practice-Ready Initiative several years ago and has continued to strategically develop its curriculum to help students acquire the lawyering skills necessary to launch successful careers in the competitive legal market. One way Fowler students gain practical experience is working on actual cases under the supervision of faculty members at six law school clinics. Another feature contributing to the rankings were the school’s externship programs, which saw a record number of students participating in 2017-2018. Last year, Fowler Law received an A- grade from “PreLaw” as one of the top schools for Tax Law.

The magazine also awarded the school a B+ for facilities, which includes an award-winning library and state-of-the-art classrooms, two courtrooms, popular student lounges and easy access to fitness facilities.

Dawn Bonker

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