W&L Law Professor’s New Book Takes Students inside the Litigation Department

Lexington, VA • Thursday, June 16, 2011

The core element of Washington and Lee School of Law's third-year curriculum is an array of practice-based courses through which students can explore the subject matter and challenges of particular legal environments. While these types of classes are a key element in helping prepare law students for their careers, the approach is new enough that teaching materials can be hard to find.

New books like the one by Jim Moliterno, Vincent Bradford Professor of Law, will make things much easier for law schools that follow W&L's lead. The Litigation Department Lawyer, due out this month from West Publishing, is an outgrowth of Moliterno's work developing litigation-based practicum courses for the School of Law. However, the book can be used by professors at any law school with a course that seeks to simulate for students the workings of a law firm litigation team.  Demand for such courses is on the rise.

"A young lawyer in a litigation department has to be able to take a case on as his or her own," says Moliterno. "This book gives students the opportunity to confront many issues and produce a range of work product typical of a litigation practice, all accomplished while still in law school and under the guidance of a teacher."

The book includes substantive material on civil procedure, evidence, and lawyer ethics, but the bulk of the book is devoted to sets of materials that students will use, directed by their professor, to create an elaborate simulation of litigation department practice. These simulations mimic a series of isolated activities of different litigation department types, as well as to create a running, connected event, based on a single matter. Along the way, students will gain experience in discovery, pleadings, and motion drafting for an array of purposes before finally taking the matter to trial.

"Those law school graduates who take this type of course and become litigators will have a portfolio of materials of the kind they are going to be required to produce," says Moliterno. "And they will have formed the work habits and mental pathways that are necessary to tackle the job."

Moliterno has spent his career as a legal educator seeking ways to infuse experiential learning into legal education. He was the architect of William and Mary law school's award winning ethics, skills, and professionalism program, which in 1991 won the American Bar Association Gambrell Professionalism Award, as the best law school or bar association program for the teaching of ethics and professionalism.  Since joining Washington and Lee in 2009, Moliterno has helped lead the design and implementation of W&L's innovative third-year curriculum.

Moliterno is also an acknowledged international expert in legal ethics and professionalism, and has traveled throughout the world to help countries develop ethics policies and training programs. He participated in the USAID Rule of Law project in Serbia to establish legal skills training programs, and has worked with lawyers and judges in China, Kosovo, Spain, and the Czech Republic on ethics training.

The Litigation Department Lawyer is available online from the West Publishing website. Moliterno is under contract with the same publisher for another experiential book, this one designed for first year law students taking Civil Procedure. That book will be published in late 2012.

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