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Advocacy Program’s Fit to Practice workshop series draws more than 160 students in its first year

A woman gestures and talks to students

LSU Law Advocacy Fellow Annie Scardulla lectures during a session of the Fit to Practice workshop series.

In its first year, LSU Law Advocacy Program’s Fit to Practice eight-week workshop series drew 164 students from LSU Law and Southern University Law Center. Of that total, 95 students attended all eight sessions and received an Affidavit of Completion.

The Fit to Practice series is a civil litigation workshop series that was held during the Spring 2018 semester and sponsored by the LSU Law Advocacy Program and Cornerstones student organization. Each session of the series focused on a skill essential to the successful practice of an associate in his or her first three years of work in civil litigation.

The series was taught by LSU Law Advocacy Fellow Annie Scardulla and leading civil litigation attorneys.

“The first few years of law practice can be overwhelming as young attorneys are often expected to perform tasks that they have never done before with little to no instruction. In that environment, it is easy to feel incompetent and lose confidence,” Scardulla said. “I hope that after completing the workshop series students feel more familiar with the young attorney’s role in the civil litigation process and thus more prepared, or dare I say, ‘fit’ to transition into civil practice.”

Scardulla said the Law Center created the workshop series to better expose students to and prepare students for the realities of practicing law, particularly the day-to-day “advocacy” skills used in the first one-to-three years of practice and the unique role that the young attorney plays in civil litigation.

“To that end, in each presentation, we examined the attributes of an exceptional young attorney, the baseline abilities that a young attorney should possess, and the attitudes that a young attorney should have in working with legal superiors and peers,” she said.

Weekly topics of the workshop series included petitions, client billing, written discovery, medical records, depositions, mediation, dispositive motions and trial prep. The series also featured three guest speakers during the eight weeks — Brittany Schultz, In-House Counsel Dept., Ford Motor Company; M. Kathleen Christmas, Nurse Paralegal Consultant; and Michael Pulaski, Attorney and Certified Mediator.

A video screen shows a woman talking with students in the foreground

Brittany Schultz, In-House Counsel Department for the Ford Motor Company, gives a lecture via Skype during a session of the Fit to Practice workshop series.

“I was ecstatic to see how many students ended up completing the entire workshop series! I really think they enjoyed learning about the life of a civil case and diving deep into topics like client billing and discovery, topics a majority of students do not get to really explore throughout the legal curriculum,” Scardulla said.

Scardulla said she received glowing feedback from students about the effectiveness of the workshop in preparing them for professional, legal work.

“The format, content, and presentation were great. The series was a wonderful supplement to the knowledge I previously accrued as a legal assistant,” said a participant of the Fit To Practice Workshop series. “Further, I was able to use some of the things I learned as talking points during (on-campus interviews).”

Scardulla said the civil series will be offered in the Spring 2019 semester, and she hopes to expand the series to also address criminal and transactional skills in the near future.