The creation of Mitchell Hamline School of Law combined the strengths of its predecessor schools.
William Mitchell School of Law was well-regarded for the practical litigation skills it gave students, allowing them to step into a courtroom with confidence.
Hamline University School of Law was known for giving students problem-solving skills through the Dispute Resolution Institute, which has been ranked third in the nation among programs of its kind by U.S. News & World Report.
Mitchell Hamline has combined those two approaches in a new, well-rounded curriculum.
“We’re drawing on the historical strengths of each of the schools in doing that,” said Kate Kruse, Mitchell Hamline’s associate dean for academic affairs.
Shortly after the American Bar Association gave Mitchell Hamline the go-ahead in December 2015 to begin operation, the combined faculty voted to make skills courses in both advocacy and problem-solving required for students.
“It was the strong consensus of the faculty that these two types of courses together comprised the range of skills that any lawyer should have,” Kruse said.
Students who enter MHSL in the fall of 2016 will be required to take a skills-based course like trial advocacy, which is already a requirement for current students. To be an effective advocate, attorneys need to understand the techniques of persuasion, and storytelling.
Students will also be required to take a problem-solving course, such as mediation, negotiation, or transactions and settlements.
The new curriculum will give students the foundational skills to be effective attorneys, helping them advocate for clients and bring adversaries together in constructive ways.
“If you understand the underlying interests that disputing parties have, you can bring them together into a win-win solution,” Kruse said. “Developing those skills across the board helps you do anything you want to do with a law degree.”
And Kruse thinks that will give Mitchell Hamline graduates an advantage in the workplace—whether in the courtroom, in government, or in business.
“You’ll be advocating and problem-solving if you’re a trial lawyer, a corporate executive, or in the compliance department of health care company,” Kruse said.