Attorneys, Advocates, And The CDTA Vision
“Law school teaches law students the law, but it doesn’t teach law students to be lawyers” is an oft-used well-known criticism of traditional law schools. As these traditional law schools chiefly focused on substantive learning through class discussion based on students’ reading and briefing cases, any desire to gain knowledge of the everyday skills related to the routine practice of law was primarily left to students to pursue solely on their own. Any desire to learn those skills that allow an attorney to advocate and assert the rights of clients was primarily left to students to pursue solely on their own.
John Patrick Dolan, Dean of the California Desert Trial Academy, is admitted to practice in California and numerous Federal jurisdictions. Dean Dolan passed the California Bar Exam and was sworn in to practice in 1978. As a California Criminal Trial Lawyer with over 40 years of courtroom experience, Dean Dolan has handled everything from traffic tickets to death penalty murder cases. He is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States of America, originally sponsored by F. Lee Bailey.
Dean Dolan is an old-school lawyer who earned his experience in the courtroom advocating for clients. His knowledge comes not just from knowledge from books, but from the practical hands-on experience of being an attorney-advocate.
As Mr. Dolan discussed the state of the practice of law with legendary trial attorneys, F. Lee Bailey and Gerry Spence, a recurring theme started to dominate their conversations – young lawyers and those currently emerging from law school may sufficiently know the substantive law, but they fail to adequately possess the advocacy skills necessary for effectively asserting the rights of those they will represent. As a result of these conversations, John Patrick Dolan and Irene Garcia Dolan were inspired to start the California Desert Trial Academy with an emphasis on teaching students the practice of law, rather than just the knowledge of the law, so students may be true attorney-advocates.
Many schools meet their primary goal of teaching students the black letter law of core subjects such as contracts, torts, and real property. While this may have been adequate in 1970, this approach fails to meet the needs and habits of young law students in the digital age of 2020.
As a result of this ongoing traditional approach in 2020, most students in traditional law schools graduate solely with knowledge of the substantive law and little else in the way of practical instruction. Many of these traditional law schools would claim that teaching the substantive law is their only purpose. At the CDTA, we go beyond educating our students: we also train and develop our students to be exceptional attorney-advocates in any courtroom, in any jurisdiction.
The core curriculum of most traditional law schools involves about three to five hours of daily classroom instruction of those basic standard elements or principles of law, which are generally known and free from doubt or dispute. These include the basic principles of law that are accepted by a majority view of judges in most states. This is typically followed by an analysis of the minority view.
While the educational value of such substantive information to a law student is necessary and indisputable, traditional law schools provide little or no organized focused instruction on the practical application of this information in the real-world. The CDTA trains students how to be lawyers from day one. CDTA trains students and develops their practice and advocacy skills through classroom interaction and other exercises each day.
In 2012, CDTA accepted its first class of students with a more practical focus on modern legal education. This focus implements the same comprehensive learning platform as traditional law schools while considering and remedying the traditional deficiencies of law school graduates. At CDTA, not only do we educate students to be lawyers, but we also train and develop them to be exceptional trial advocates.
The California Desert Trial Academy (CDTA) is a 21st Century law school that moves students toward a successful legal career on the first day of class. We believe that practical experience in tandem with legal knowledge is the best road to a successful, rewarding, and prosperous legal career. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.