The Student Experience

Your Legal Education in the Classroom.  Valparaiso Law faculty support students as they develop their understanding of legal theory, engage in analytical reasoning, and learn to problem solve effectively. One of the essential ways our students demonstrate their grasp of legal knowledge is through their 3-year immersion in legal research and writing. They experience a highly-personalized approach in small research and writing classes where they receive one-on-one guidance from tenured writing and research faculty. As alumni Rob Elliott (2011) says:  “After my 2L year, at my internship in Verizon’s Legal Department, I found that I could immediately apply the in-depth writing and research skills I had learned.” Rob was able to succeed because, as the Director of Legal Writing, Professor Ruth Vance says: “We teach, guide and mentor students not only in what legal employers expect, but in how to write in plain English, edit their own work, and pay attention to details. They learn how to effectively express legal arguments and develop strategies for getting a specific result that supports the client’s interests.”    

Your Practice Opportunities. Valparaiso Law students view the new Lawyering Skills Center at Heritage Hall as a genuine law firm environment where they learn the skills central to the practice of law.  The Law Clinic at Valparaiso University Law School is home to nine live-client practice clinics that handle over 700 cases annually for community members who cannot afford legal counsel.  Through a special license from the State of Indiana, 3L students are approved to meet with and counsel clients, prepare legal briefs and documents, provide mediation support, and/or represent clients in court.  As alumni AJ Sickmann (2011) says: “In the Civil Clinic, I handled a partnership dispute between three restaurant partners that involved a large amount of money. For a 3L, it was great to have that kind of ownership. I don’t get nervous in court anymore.” The Center also provides a state-of-the-art courtroom where students learn about, apply, and refine their skills in appellate advocacy, dispute resolution, moot court, mock trial, and trial practice.

Your Personal Development.  Valparaiso Law students depend on each other to meet the challenges of the rigorous curriculum, cross-mentor oral advocacy and other practical skills, and become immersed in the local community.  From the outset, students are encouraged to actively engage (not compete) with each other since they are current and future colleagues. As alumni Lakeisha Murdaugh (2012) says: “My experiences taught me a lot about myself and pushed me to new limits. That wouldn’t have happened without the support of other students who had gone and were going through it with me.” Along with their law professors, our students become each other’s primary network.

Your Fit at Our Location.  Most Valparaiso Law students develop strong ties to Valparaiso, a small city of 30,000 in northwest Indiana. Along with Valparaiso’s reasonable cost of living, vibrant social and recreational opportunities, and close proximity to the pristine National Lakeshore Park along Lake Michigan, students experience a welcoming, convenient, and safe community where they can reliably depend on each other as well as other community members. While Valparaiso offers a place to study without the distractions of urban life, its location also offers the many benefits of an urban environment in the city of Chicago, about 60 miles away.