A working law office
Named for one of its co-founders who would go on to become the first woman on the Minnesota Supreme Court, the Rosalie Wahl Legal Practice Center functions as a law office within the law school. Students represent low-income renters, prisoners, nonprofit groups, immigrants, and others. They assist parents in child protection cases, draft contracts, and file patent applications.
The center houses our clinical program, which has been among the top-ranked in the nation for the past 11 years, as well as skills courses, the externship program, and public service initiatives. It’s where students work directly with faculty to develop lawyering skills. And it’s a valuable resource for people in need of pro bono legal services.
It is the heart of Mitchell Hamline’s practical legal education.
Rosalie Wahl, a native of Kansas, entered William Mitchell College of Law—a predecessor school of Mitchell Hamline—in the early 1960s at age 37 and attended school at night while raising four children. She had a fifth while in law school. Upon graduation, she went to work in the state public defender’s office, arguing numerous appeals on behalf of indigent criminal defendants. She joined the faculty at William Mitchell in 1971, helped establish the school’s clinical program in 1973, and was appointed to the court in 1977. In her 17 years on the bench, she earned a reputation as the voice for those living on the edges of society—the poor, the accused, and the powerless.
The Development of Practical Skills Education at Mitchell Hamline
A distinguished group of St. Paul lawyers incorporate the St. Paul College of Law, a Mitchell Hamline predecessor school, and launch a night law school program.
United Charities of St. Paul establishes a legal clinic in cooperation with the St. Paul College of Law to train students in case work and trial preparation.
Minneapolis College of Law, another Mitchell Hamline predecessor school, is the only U.S. law school offering a four-year course in court practice.
William Mitchell College of Law, a Mitchell Hamline predecessor school, begins offering a Seminar on Legal Writing and a Legal Drafting course.
William Mitchell offers elective skills courses, such as the Poverty Law Seminar and the Trial Advocacy Seminar.
Rosalie Wahl ’67 and Professor Roger S. Haydock develop and lead William Mitchell’s new law clinic program, one of the first in the nation. The clinical program eventually becomes among the top-ranked in the nation.
Professor Roger Haydock, with the advice and consent of Dean Doug Heidenreich ’61, buys a reel-to-reel video machine and proceeds to make short, taped lawyering skills examples for his clinic class. He also begins to videotape students’ skills exercise performances and use the tape for instant feedback.
William Mitchell’s faculty revise and expand the skills curriculum to better prepare students for clinical fieldwork with clients, making Trial Advocacy and other simulation courses prerequisites for enrolling in a clinic.
Legal Assistance to Minnesota Prisoners (LAMP) clinic launches at William Mitchell.
Professor Dick Oakes begins the Criminal Defense Clinic at Hamline University School of Law, a Mitchell Hamline predecessor school.
William Mitchell’s Trial Advocacy course wins the national Emil Gumpert Award for Excellence in Teaching Advocacy from the American College of Trial Lawyers.
Hamline begins the Public Interest Advocacy Clinic.
William Mitchell Professors John Sonsteng and Roger Haydock create and lead the Legal Practicum Program where students work as a four-person law firm handling a series of simulated cases under the guidance of full-time faculty members and tutors.
Hamline Law’s director of the Lawyering Skills Program proposes a plan for a progressive sequencing of skills courses throughout the curriculum in the areas of litigation practice, public interest advocacy, general law office practice, and corporate and commercial law practice.
Professor Angela McCaffrey is hired to direct Hamline Law’s clinical program.
Hamline Law becomes one of six law schools to participate in an program to integrate dispute resolution throughout the law school curriculum.
Professor Jim Coben launches the Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic at Hamline Law, the first clinic in the country to represent parties in mediation.
The Child Advocacy Clinic at Hamline Law launches, the only clinic in the country to represent the best interests of children in Indian Child Welfare cases.
The “Lawyering” skills course is added at William Mitchell, created by combining aspects of Trial Advocacy and Civil Practice. Classroom instruction and small group simulation exercises introduce students to the skills needed to interview and counsel clients, to negotiate, and to work as advocates in court and administrative settings.
Hamline Law launches the Health Law Clinic.
The Innocence Project of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization devoted to investigating claims of actual innocence, is founded at Hamline University, creating an Innocence Clinic for law students to work on actual innocence cases.
William Mitchell faculty again rethink and redesign the required skills curriculum in order to send graduates into practice with exposure to the basics of client representation and advocacy. The first-year course, Writing and Representation: Advice and Persuasion (WRAP), and second- or third-year Advocacy course are phased in. Interviewing, counseling, negotiation, and mediation are now taught in the first year alongside the research and writing course. The upper-level required course, Advocacy, again focuses on the skills of persuading others to act in a client’s interest, whether through litigation or alternative means.
The Dispute Resolution Institute at Hamline Law creates the Problem-Solving and Advocacy Certificate, giving students the opportunity to demonstrate competence in a range of traditional and alternative forms.
The Re-Entry Clinic, serving women leaving the state women’s prison in Shakopee, Minnesota, and the Intellectual Property Clinic launch at William Mitchell.
Hamline Law creates Practice, Problem-Solving and Professionalism, a foundational skills course designed to introduce students to the many problem-solving roles that lawyers assume in society.
The Child Protection Clinic launches at William Mitchell.
Hamline Law approves the Hamline Experiential Progression, which links entry level, exploratory, and advanced instruction in three key ares of practical lawyering: problem-solving, advocacy, and transactional planning throughout students’ first, second, and third years.
William Mitchell and Hamline Law combine to form Mitchell Hamline School of Law, with a commitment to experiential education stronger than ever. The law school offers 17 clinics and continues to develop practical skills courses that prepare students for their careers.