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Back for its second year, LSU Law’s Fit to Practice Workshop shows students the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the legal world

The Fit to Practice Workshop is in its second year at the Law Center, and its coordinator, LSU Law’s Advocacy Fellow, Annie Scardulla, could not be more excited.

A woman talks on a stage to a group of students in an auditorium

LSU Law’s Advocacy Fellow Annie Scardulla talks to LSU Law and Southern Law students during a Fit to Practice Workshop session in 2018. Now in its second year, the 8-week workshop gives law students a look at the real world legal practice and teaches them lessons that many students don’t face until they enter the legal profession.

“My goal is for my students to have confidence in their decisions, and to take everything they do as a learning lesson,” said Scardulla.

The 8-week program is designed to give students basic knowledge concerning the life of a civil litigation case. Scardulla seeks for the workshop to open students up to the little things they would typically learn through trial and error in their first year of law practice.

The workshop has grown from 164 participants total in 2018 to 185 participants in the first week of the 2019 program. The program is offered to LSU and Southern law students, and those who attend all eight weeks receive an Affidavit of Completion.

The Law Center now offers two bonus programs, the first being the Baton Rouge Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Networking Panel that was hosted by the Law Center’s Career Services Office on Jan. 28. On March 18, the Louisiana Civil Procedure Boot Camp will be hosted by Judge Guy Holdridge directly after the Fit to Practice session. The program is set to take students through the “nuts and bolts” of the Louisiana clerking world.

Scardulla put a lot of work into creating the program with help from some LSU Law faculty. She thanks Professor Jeff Brooks for his attendance and marketing of the workshop. Scardulla also is thankful for the support of the LSU Law administration, Dean Tom Galligan, and Chancellor John Pierre of Southern Law.

Fit to Practice offers lectures from three accredited guest speakers including Ruth Gates, of Nissan Group of North America; Kathleen Christmas, owner of Nurse Paralegal USA; and Mike Pulaski, a working mediator. Scardulla aims for the guest lectures to shine a light on some sectors of legal work that are often overlooked by law students.

The program encourages students to be fit to practice from a wellness standpoint, as well. Each session offers 15 minutes of Mindfulness with Lexlee Overton, founder of Mind Over Law, where students practice their breathing and exercise anxiety management strategies.

Scardulla developed the workshop to give students a unique opportunity that is not offered at every law school. The Program is attended by a majority of 1L students who are eager to gain experience.

Students who received an Affidavit of Completion in 2018 have informed Scardulla of how the program has benefited them. Some insisting that it helped them stand out in job interviews while others students appreciated the resources offered to past and current participants for an unlimited amount of time through Google Drive.

Scardulla was once a student herself at LSU Law, having graduated in 2014 magna cum laude and Order of Coif. She went on to work in civil litigation in Louisiana for several years.

When asked if she had any advice for current law students, Scardulla said, “It’s called the practice of law for a reason. You can’t get down on yourself… because there is no such thing as a perfect lawyer.”

Scardulla returned to LSU Law to pass on her knowledge to law students as the school’s first ever Advocacy Fellow. After being sent the job description for the position, Scardulla jumped at the opportunity to teach students how to be competent and confident in their study of law.

Fit to practice runs until Monday, March 25, so there is still time join Annie Scardulla and other enthusiastic law students.

If interested in attending to Fit to Practice, all sessions are held in the McKernan Auditorium at the LSU Law Center, and students are not required to sign-up prior to sessions. Each session runs from 3:00-4:00 p.m., and the program’s schedule can be found on the LSU Law Advocacy Programs website.