When I say that to University of Baltimore law students, I mean it literally. Among the best features of our new, state-of-the-art law center are its glass walls and the panoramic views of Baltimore visible from virtually everywhere in the school. I constantly urge students to look outside the building to gain perspective about our law school’s place in the community around us.
Dean Weich poses with the Baltimore Orioles mascot at the Northeast Association of Pre-Law Advisors conference held at the University of Baltimore School of Law in June 2014.
The brilliant architect behind the John and Frances Angelos Law Center may not have intended to do so, but he designed a building that makes an important statement about the kind of legal education we strive to provide. Virtually every aspect of our school relates to the wider world. The students we recruit and enroll typically bring real-world experience to UB, including the evening students who maintain demanding, full-time day jobs while attending law school. Our curriculum is conceived around the notion that law must be understood in the context of broader features of society; in fact, first-year students are required to take a course in a series entitled “Law in Context.”
But perhaps the most important way our law school relates to the outside world is the way we take advantage of the vibrant legal community around us to teach practical, hands-on legal skills. UB students represent actual clients under the guidance of experienced professors in one of our nine legal clinics, including a new veterans advocacy clinic. They receive credit for rigorously supervised externships in private and public law offices and judicial chambers throughout Baltimore and the Maryland-D.C. region. They are taught, mentored and coached on moot court and trial advocacy teams by a network of UB alumni and other practicing lawyers, judges and legislators.
Meanwhile, our outstanding full-time faculty members are using the new building’s sophisticated technology to bring the real world into their classrooms. For instance, when I taught a Legislation class earlier this year, I didn’t just talk about the Senate; I live-streamed Senate floor debates onto the video screen at the front of the room, then had students close their books and laptops and engage in legislative debate themselves. That’s one way we train the next generation of Maryland leaders at UB.
UB recently doubled down on its long-standing commitment to skills-based learning by guaranteeing that all students who graduate from our school in the years ahead will have engaged in a series of practical legal experiences during their course of study. That guarantee will help ensure that our students remain a step ahead of their competitors in this tough job market.
Other law schools, the ones with the musty libraries and droopy gargoyles, are just beginning to discover “experiential education.” But at UB, practical learning is in our DNA. It is who we are and what we are known for.
I’m two years into my tenure as dean of the UB School of Law and I’ve never been more proud. I’m proud of our faculty and staff for their commitment to excellence in all that they do. I’m proud of our extraordinary partnership with the Maryland bench and bar, and of our growing network of successful alumni in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. And above all I’m proud of our students for their hard work and determination.
So “look out,” world―UB is on the move.