August 14, 2023

Advocacy Center and New Courtroom Expand Experiential Learning

The Lewis & Clark Advocacy Center reinforces the school’s strong commitment to prepare students to be practice-ready advocates. A new teaching courtroom provides the perfect setting.

Lewis & Clark Law School has long been a leader in experiential learning opportunities for students with its nationally renowned programs including clinics, expansive externship opportunities, and competition moot court teams. Over half of our students participate in clinics or externships as part of their education at Lewis & Clark. Our moot court competition teams regularly achieve national accolades. In addition, Lewis & Clark draws on the strength of the Portland legal community for outstanding adjunct professors to teach a variety of advocacy courses.

The Lewis & Clark Advocacy Center, that will be officially dedicated at an October 2023 ceremony, further solidifies the law school’s leading role in experiential learning. A generous donation from Andy Johnson-Laird and Kay Kitagawa enabled the law school to establish the Center, and last year, the school brought Joanna Perini-Abbott on board to serve as a Professor of Practice and Director of the new Center. Professor Perini-Abbott has close ties to both Lewis & Clark and the Portland legal community, having worked in Portland for the past decade representing clients in criminal and civil matters.

In connection with launching the Advocacy Center, the law school will unveil the new Bergman Courtroom, supported by a generous gift from Matt Bergman ’89. The new courtroom, formerly known as Classroom 5, will serve as the center for training activities and give students the opportunity to learn and practice litigation skills in a setting that reflects modern practice.

“We have been working on the idea for an Advocacy Center for some time,” explained Dean Jennifer Johnson. “Andy and Kay’s extraordinary gift gave us the opportunity to implement our dream. Matt Bergman helped the law school create our teaching courtroom and we found the right person to lead the Center in Joanna Perini-Abbott. We are so excited that everything came together so well during this past year. We are also very pleased by the additional support from our alums and members of the Portland legal community.”

Perini-Abbott has been working for the past year to define and develop the Advocacy Center. She explained that “the Center will build on the law school’s current courses, clinics and competition teams. Plans include offering additional simulation courses in areas related to litigation, including trial, pre-trial litigation, negotiations, appeals, and client counseling. The Center will also support the growth of competition teams for moot court, mock trial, negotiation, and client counseling. These expanded simulation courses and competition teams will give students a place to learn practical skills in a low-stakes setting, to prepare students for externships, clinics, and the practice of law upon graduation.“

As a starting point for new courses, the Advocacy Center is launching two new classes for the 2023-24 school year:

  • Integrated Evidence and Trial Advocacy - students will learn the rules of evidence alongside the rules of trial practice. Students will build to a final pretrial conference to argue evidentiary motions and a final mock trial. Students will have weekly opportunities to practice trial skills and evidentiary arguments in front of practicing lawyers from our legal community.

  • Pretrial Advocacy - students will take a case from an initial client interview through drafting pleadings, taking discovery, and ultimately filing and arguing dispositive motions. Students will work in groups of 6, meeting with mentor attorneys weekly to develop case strategy, learn litigation techniques, and discuss ethical issues that arise in the course of litigation.

The Advocacy Center expects to offer a certificate program later this academic year that recognizes students who dedicate a significant portion of their time at Lewis & Clark to advocacy courses and excel in those courses.

The Center is working to forge even stronger ties to the Pacific Northwest legal community to create a mutually supportive relationship. Practicing attorneys, including experienced and dedicated trial lawyers, negotiators, mediators and judges, serve as mentors, guest lecturers, and adjunct faculty. The Center will also be “giving back” to that community with educational materials on key litigation topics drawn from Oregon cases that will be accessible via the school’s website.

RSVP to the Advocacy Center Launch October 12