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Excitement and exhilaration are in the air at St. Francis School of Law as we welcome our fall 2015 entering class. Admissions Representative Gretchen Phillips stated “I had the great pleasure of working with each of our Fall 2015 students, and can attest to their strong skill sets. This is a terrific group of working professionals that are eager to put the knowledge they will attain from our J.D. program to the test. They will do great things!”

The entering class includes students from a wide variety of backgrounds, including compliance, human resources, medicine, pharmacy, marketing, and education. In our latest entering class 73% of our students hold graduate degrees and 64% hold professional licenses. After his first Fall class session, Torts I Prof. Bill Baughman said, “This is a great group of students. They are all well-educated professionals who are all very motivated to learn the law. As the class proceeded, this became very clear.”

St. Francis students complete a three week Orientation prior to starting their class work. This fall’s Orientation was taught by Dean Carole J. Buckner and Prof. Michael Santana, who both have extensive experience preparing new law students for successful legal study. Dean Buckner brings extensive experience in the practice of law as well as legal education into the design of the Orientation class, drawing heavily on her knowledge of expert learning theory as to makes for a successful law student. Prof. Santana brings his depth as a legal educator including experience helping students develop the skills needed for high quality legal analysis and legal writing into the Orientation program. The three week Orientation class includes both live and online components designed to introduce new students to St. Francis’s cutting edge technology platforms, and foster development of key study skills, including case reading and case briefing, that are foundational to law school success. Students report a readiness to hit the ground running.

The first class, Torts I, covers the topic of negligence, including everything from landowner liability to professional liability for malpractice. Students meet twice a week online via WebEx, in small classes of 15 students or less. In the two ninety minute live classes each week, professors guide students through the materials assigned. In addition students take quizzes, complete writing assignments and receive written feedback from the professor.

Each week students also interact with their fellow students through discussion board exercises that simulate the way lawyers collaborate in legal practice through an exchange of ideas designed to enrich each student’s capacity for legal analysis.

St. Francis professors practice the Socratic method of instruction which means classes are highly engaging. Classes are conducted as a live, face to face, voice to voice dialog between professors and students. Because class sizes are small, students participate extensively. Students discuss assigned case reading and address hypothetical client problems requiring them to apply the legal doctrine they are learning to resolve issues such as a client would present. Students develop their legal writing skills as well as the oral advocacy skills needed to become successful practitioners of the law.

This fall’s entering students have the privilege of studying tort law with either Prof. Roger Cusickor Prof. Bill Baughman. Dr. Cusick has extensive experience in tort litigation, with heavy emphasis on products, and previously served as general counsel to a healthcare entity. Prof. Baughman has in depth experience in the area of legal malpractice avoidance, having served as Vice President of Lawyer’s Mutual Insurance Company for 30 years. Both have tremendous experience in legal education, and have taught previously at St. Francis with great success. These St. Francis professors bring their wealth of real world insights and expertise into the classroom setting, enriching the instruction with a practical perspective on the realities of tort law.

Welcome to our new entering class—you are on your way to the practice of law!