Wednesday, April 24, 2019

What An Experience Experiential Learning Is!

Welcome back to the Jury of Peers readers! Today, we’re going to talk about experiential learning at Loyola, and my experience in an experiential learning program.

But first, let’s get started with what is sure to be a deep burning question for all of you: what is experiential learning? Well, experiential learning is exactly what it sounds like and what you think it would be! It is the opportunity to have hands-on training in a particular field or area of the law. Loyola really emphasizes and promotes the importance of being able to learn about your interests while at the same time gaining real-life, practical experiences, which is why it’s actually a part of the curriculum required to graduate. They want to make sure that when you leave Loyola and become a lawyer, you’re fully prepared and knowledgeable of the real world and can handle real-life situations. That’s why here, you’ll find several of these opportunities via clinics, practicums, concentrations, field placements, etc.

Another question I’m sure that’s lingering in your mind (and perhaps one that I get a lot on campus tours) is: How do I find out about experiential learning? Fret not, because I’ve got you covered on that too! In the spring semester, Loyola holds what’s known as the Experiential Learning Fair. During this event, all the various clinics, practicums, concentrations, etc. host booths out on the Esplanade to answer questions about the application process, expectations and requirements from the particular experience, etc. Usually program directors and students currently in or alumni of the program will be there to talk about their experiences, the cool things they’ve done, etc.

I’m sure you’re also wondering: “What experiential learning program is she involved in?” Which is an excellent question! I am currently a yearlong clinical student at Loyola’s Project for the Innocent (LPI). LPI evaluates cases of individuals currently serving life sentences in California state prisons, determines whether such individuals were wrongfully convicted due to a host of issues (i.e. false witness identifications, false witness testimonies, evidence tampering), and builds a case to try to establish that wrongful conviction (via extensive research, analysis of murder books and evidence, reading of trial transcripts, etc.). Yes, these are real cases with real people involved! In addition to working on our cases and having office hours, I attend a two-hour seminar once a week in which we learn about and discuss the different issues in the justice system, new developments in our cases, etc.

I obtained my spot in the clinic by applying during the spring semester of 1L (following the experiential learning fair), interviewing with clinic staff, accepting the offer, and attending the orientation session in the summer before the start of the fall semester.

My take on the experiential program? Whether it’s in a clinic or concentration or practicum, experiential learning is an extremely beneficial opportunity. It’s a unique experience that gives students the opportunity to gain invaluable experiences, pursue interests, and even try something out that he or she never even thought about or considered before. Experiential learning doesn’t just make students more competitive candidates for future work or externship opportunities. In my opinion and speaking from my experiences working with LPI, these learning opportunities make students more well-rounded, more humbled, and honestly more aware of the world and what it’s like to have real clients or real life issues that need their help and efforts to be resolved.

Until next time friends!

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