Because you only graduate law school twice.
One month from now it will all be over. No more classes, no more books and no more teacher’s dirty looks as the rhyme goes. Unfortunately that month involves 2 essays, a drafting assignment, a short memo, a short problem and 2 tests. While it sounds daunting it shouldn’t actual be too bad. I also finally get to go home this week (I haven’t been since Christmas vacation) so it will be great to get to see everyone, spend time at the cottage and get some spring skiing in.
This past Friday was the Dual JD, all years, class barbeque. It’s the first time we’ve had a multi-year event this year or a multi-year barbeque. Approximately 50 people came out from the 150 or so people in our program, which considering it was a Friday night and many people were heading out of town, was a decent showing. The SBA (Student Bar Association) gives each class a budget for the year so each year of our program contributed to the event, making it free for students to attend. It provided an excellent opportunity for students from different years to mix-mingle and share our experiences about the program and area – or to just take a break from the books pre-exams. We also launched the pre-orders for our Dual JD class clothing. It was great seeing 2 of the SBA items I’ve been working on this semester finally coming to fruition.
I’ve been meaning for a while to say more about the Dual JD program so I suppose this is about as good a segue as I’m going to get.
The Dual JD (or Canadian and American Dual Degree Program as it is officially known) is a joint program between UDM Law and the University of Windsor Faculty of Law. It is the only program in North America which offers an integrated opportunity for students to earn both a Canadian and American Law degree in 3 years. The main differences between our program and other Dual JD programs are the 3 year timeline and the ability to attend both schools at once. Most other programs are 4 years and all require students to do a certain number of years at one school then more years at another. With our program you are fully enrolled at both schools for the full duration. This is unique in that it really gives you the chance to be part of both school communities and draw on the advantages both schools have to offer.
For example both schools have clinical programs. UDM offers them for credit, but provides detailed one on one faculty supervision and consultation. You also are given specific (sometimes quite intensive) files which you do all the case planning and management for. At U Windsor clinics are less of a time commitment but there is less variety and you don’t receive credit for them. You also generally work under the supervision of upper year students but are more likely to actually get to take cases to court.
Mooting is another example of how the schools differ. At both schools all first year students compete in an internal moot competition at the end of the first year. UDM then offers 2 internal moots throughout the year which are open to all students. The one in the fall is a trial moot and the one in the spring is an appellate moot. You get one credit for competing and written submissions are required along with competitors’ workshops. These moots provide an excellent learning experience and are often very competitive, providing a similar experience to competing in a national moot but with a slightly smaller time commitment in terms of practice. U Windsor also holds an internal moot in the fall, which focuses on a criminal or constitutional matter at an appellate level. This moot is not for credit, but rather to give students the chance to further hone their skills. It also requires written submissions but tends to be much more casual than those at UDM. As such it provides a more relaxed experience for those who may be more hesitant about jumping right into something too competitive. With regards to the national teams Windsor selects each team individually and provides credits for competition in most teams, while UDM selects students at the end of each year to join the Moot Court Board and then draws competitors from this group, while helping others in the group develop their skills for future years.
Mooting and clinics are just two of the many ways in which the schools differ. Attending both gives Dual students the opportunity to pick and choose which of the variety of opportunities work for their personal tastes and time restraints. Being at both schools for all 3 years ensures that we are given all opportunities right from the start rather than asking us to adjust and become involved with a whole new school system half way through our degrees.
By attending both schools we also learn the law of each system concurrently. This means that all of our classes (with the exception of civil procedure and constitutional law) are taught either as a combined class which covers both jurisdictions or through the inclusion of modules for the non-primary jurisdiction of the class. Civil procedure and constitutional law are separate classes which we take on each side because they have so little overlap that learning the jurisdictions together wouldn’t provide any benefit. With the schools only 10 km (about 6 miles) apart it is easy to move back and forth between them for classes.