UConn Law From a Foreign Perspective

by Victoria Rowley

Studying abroad has become an increasingly popular choice for many students worldwide, and I’m just one of many who decided this year to embark on the opportunity to undertake an exchange program abroad. Having now been in the U.S. for three months, I decided to look back on my time here so far and set out some of the main differences between studying at UConn Law compared to studying at my home university, The University of Nottingham in England.

Postgraduate Study
Law in the UK can be studied as an undergraduate degree, which means not all students necessarily want to become lawyers but are more interested in law as an academic subject. UK students use their law degrees to enter a variety of professions aside from law, including politics, marketing, and accountancy. In comparison, law in the US is a postgraduate program that many students undertake in order to go into practice. As a result, and as the UConn School of Law website states, student life is focused on developing the skills and education necessary to become practice ready professionals. I have found that UConn Law, therefore, has a much bigger focus, that is preparing students for a career as a lawyer through externships as well as clinics and practical based learning classes.

Variety of Classes
To graduate with an English law degree (LLB) you must have completed seven core subjects; contract law, criminal law, land law, public law, European Union law, trusts and torts. As each subject typically lasts for an entire academic year, there is less opportunity during your three year LLB program to pick non-compulsory classes. For me, studying at UConn Law has given me the chance to choose a lot more of my own classes, the majority of which would not be offered at my home university, such as American Legal History or International Business Transactions.

Socratic Teaching Method
A major difference between studying at UConn Law and at my home university is the style of teaching. At the University of Nottingham, subjects are taught in large lectures with little student participation and are complimented by small group tutorials of between six to eight students. It is during tutorials that students are expected to participate and answer numerous questions on the subject material that has been set. In contrast, UConn Law utilizes the Socratic teaching method and the “on-call” system to encourage participation in larger classes. Although it can be daunting to speak in front of many more students than there would be in tutorials, the “on call” system has made me much more confident in speaking in front of others.

Student Organizations
The Law School has over 30 student organizations on campus ranging from the Connecticut Alliance of International Lawyers to the Christian Legal Society. A difference I have noticed between UConn Law student organizations and University of Nottingham student organizations is that UConn organizations often focus on a particular area of legal practice, such as Sports or Military Law. This means that students have plenty of opportunities through events, such as brown bag lunches and symposia, to find out what it is like to work in a particular practice field. In comparison, in the UK there seems to be a greater focus on the social aspect of student organizations. It is not uncommon for a student organization to have multiple executive board members whose sole responsibility is to organize the yearly social calendar.

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Student Organization Spotlight: Christian Legal Society

by Liz O’Donnell

The Christian Legal Society (“CLS”) at UConn Law is a local chapter of a national organization that is interested with the way tenants of Christianity may be applied to the law.

According to CLS’s student organization page, the society meets weekly during the lunch hour to “eat, study the bible, have a great discussion, and to take a break from the week.”

“Our primary events over the last couple of years have been weekly lunch meetings where we discuss issues,” said President Stephen Lyons. “This semester we’ve tried to get involved with other areas too.”

Stephen Lyon President of CLS

Stephen Lyon
President of CLS

This fall, CLS teamed up with the Federalist Society to bring Senator James Buckley, a former senator and judge on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, to UConn Law to speak about the role of religion in American public life.

“Between 50 and 60 people attended, including people from the community,” Lyons said. “Dean Fisher reached out to the seminary and local religious organizations and invited them to participate, [so] it was great to see interest from the community outside UConn Law too.”

While the group still meets for weekly lunches, Lyons said he hopes more members of the campus community would be open to participate.

“One of the pros of the club is that it is a sanctuary in the middle of the week where people can take off armour for a minute and relax,” he said. “We haven’t had as much success in trying to let people know we’re not just a tiny club, and we’re open to everyone with different views.”

The Society is also in the midst of creating the Law School’s first gospel choir.

“It’s more in the planning phase, but we thought it would be fun,” said Lyons. “A gospel choir would be a way to take a break from the usual rigmarole to do something fun and challenging, while also taking the mind off other stresses of the week.”

For more information about the CLS, visit its webpage under the Student Organization section of the UConn Law website, or keep an eye out for e-mails about their next meeting.

Library Corner: What’s New in the Stacks

by Jessica (Randall) Panella, Head of Access Services

Jessica (Randall) Panella
Head of Access Services

Stressed about final papers and exams? Here are a few quick reminders about library services that may make finals a little less nerve-racking:
We Have Longer Hours: Extended library hours are Saturday, December 7th – Friday, December 20th. The Library is open:

  • Monday–Friday: 8:00am–Midnight
  • Saturday & Sunday: 9:00am–Midnight

There are Noise Zones:
The library has three noise zones:

  • Green – 3rd/4th floors – quiet, collaborative, conversational noise
  • Yellow – 2nd/5th floors – minimal whispered conversation
  • Red – 1st floor – silent, for individual study

Earplugs and headphones are available at the Circulation Desk.

We have Spaces for Group Study:
We have 15 study rooms. Groups of 2 or more can book a room online or at the Information Desk. Reservations are for up to 4 hours per group per day.

There is an Exam Archive:  
The library has recently launched a new and easy-to-use online exam archive.  The archive is available here, and it can be searched by course name or professor name and contains exams from 2005 to the present.   We also maintain a print exam archive containing exam materials dating back to 1975.  These exams are kept on reserve at the library.

We have Study Aids on Reserve: 
A variety of study aids is on reserve at the Information Desk and available for 3-hour checkout. Items include Hornbooks, Nutshells, the Understanding and Examples and Explanations series as well as select Emanuel Outlines.

Try CALI Lessons:
Visual and auditory learner? CALI lessons can also be helpful for understanding classroom topics and exam preparation.  CALI, the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, has over 900 interactive, computer-based lessons covering 35 legal education subject areas available to students at member law schools like UConn.  Need an authorization code?  Please contact the Information Desk.

Take a Quick Break
Unwind with a magazine or book from our popular reading collection. Sick of reading? Watch a movie from our video collection or use the SBA’s sporting equipment and games.

Op-Ed: How Bar Associations Can Help You Get a Job

by Diane Dauplaise & María Rodriguez
NYSBA

As the job and internship stage creeps up this semester, we know what you are thinking. What do you need to do to stand out? Join a bar association! With the NYC Bar Association (“NYCBA”) as an example, there are three ways that bar associations can help you land the job you want.

First, attending Continuing Legal Education (“CLE”) courses hosted by bar associations distinguishes you as an applicant. Mentioning that you attend CLE events regarding specific legal topics shows that you have knowledge in that topic that may surpass your competitors. Additionally, it shows that you have a genuine interest and commitment to a particular area of the law. The NYCBA has multiple CLE events each week on a variety of legal topics from art law to white collar crime.

Second, many bar associations provide students the opportunity to be active by organizing events and recruiting other students. These opportunities build leadership skills that all employers appreciate. The NYCBA has over 150 committees in all areas of the law that are open to student participation. As a committee member, you may be involved in drafting reports, research, and program planning.

Lastly, we all know that it is not what you know, but who you know. Knowing a practicing attorney or judge can lead to discovering legal opportunities before your competitors. Sometimes, it means you have someone vouching for you for a position. So it should be no surprise that bar associations are the best places to network. Not only will attorneys learn about your educational qualifications, they will learn about you as a person.

The NYCBA hosts events for the specific purpose of networking. These events may be targeted to individuals in a specific area of the law, individuals in a specific stage in their legal careers, or just to the legal population generally. Plus, it does not hurt that these events come with free drinks! The next networking event hosted by the NYCBA, “A Holiday Networking Event Celebrating Diversity in the Profession,” will be held on Tuesday, December 3, 2013.

So what do you do now? You join a bar association! Joining is easy and usually free for students. Some bar associations, like the NYCBA, offer membership to students at a discounted price. The most important thing to remember is that the amount of time you spend being active in the association will determine the benefits you receive. So join an association, learn, be active, and network!

Op-Ed: A Right to Bear Arms?

by Sidd Sinha

The UConn Law Review’s recent discussion on gun rights in America shows that, regardless of one’s stance on the issue of the right to carry firearms, the threats of injury are increasingly common. 

Just in the past few weeks, gun scares at Central Connecticut State University (“CCSU”) and at the Los Angeles Airport (“LAX”) serve as a catalyst for more people fearing that there are precautions that need to be taken to make one safe.

Even though there are measures we can all take to be safer, it seems that all these efforts side step the elephant in the room: liberal gun rights force the rest of society to follow stricter rules. For example, LAX now has individuals check their bags inside the airport then wait in a line that can extend through several terminals outdoors for a pre-screening before one enters the airport to go through final security. It can delay someone from 20 minutes to over an hour, and if gun violence and threats continue to be prevalent, it should be expected that even more hurdles will be put in place at other airports and in public places, such as parks and even restaurants.

While a main argument by those who favor gun rights is that it is a right that is derived from the Constitution, that perspective ignores the notion that other parts of the Constitution guarantee rights with limitations. Isn’t that the reason we created the hypothetical that bars one from being able to yell “fire” in a movie theatre?  Whether you think the Constitution is a living, breathing document or is to be followed based on the intentions of those who drafted it, it can and has been amended.

After September 11th, America had a drastic increase in airport security, and we saw our freedoms limited by terrorists. By allowing loose gun regulation and limiting our lives through extra security checks and longer lines to get into public venues, gun advocates are the ones forcing restrictions on society. Essentially, do you want rules that limit everyone in everyday activities or rules that just limit the group that feels compelled to need to have a gun? There are likely a lot of people who may prefer the latter, but there’s a strong argument in support of a life without being reminded constantly of reasons to be afraid.