Professors Lela Love and Ellen Yaroshefsky Debate the Merits of Cardozo’s Pioneering Litigation and Mediation Programs
“It’s one thing to learn theory,” says Benjamin N. Cardozo alumna, Hon. Gia Morris ‘95, “but that will never compare to actually doing something for real.”
Morris knows what she’s talking about. As a newly minted Interim Civil Court judge assigned to Bronx criminal court—only recently appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg—she’s still in training, sitting in on cases with her more experienced colleagues, and performing in mock trials with her peers. “It’s really the best way to learn,” says Morris.
Rebecca Auster Freedman, Cardozo ’10, agrees. A contract specialist at NYU School of Medicine who often handles delicate negotiations, she says that “many classes in law school employ the Socratic Method—listening to lectures and then getting called on to answer questions. But you learn so much more when you’re forced to do whatever it is you’re being taught.”
This sort of experiential learning drew both women to Cardozo Law, and it remains central to two of the school’s most innovative programs: Intensive Trial Advocacy Program (ITAP) and Intensive Mediation Advocacy Program (IMAP).
The courses sit on opposite sides of the same coin: ITAP teaches students to litigate while IMAP teaches them to mediate. But while the goals might differ, each program relies on a similar methodology. Both ITAP and IMAP force students to step out from behind their text books—and often their comfort zones—to practice the techniques of their trade in front of experts in the field. The hours are long, the work load intense, and the pace unforgiving, but in the end, students emerge from what is often described as legal boot camp with practical experience that, according to Morris—who took the program in 1995—”gives you a level of training, and an advantage, that your peers won’t have in your first jobs.”
“This is the first time students get to be lawyers,” she says, after a pause. “Don’t underestimate how amazing that can be.” Read full article in the current issue of Cardozo Life…