“From the first day of law school, I treat my students like the attorneys that they are training to become,” says legal methods
Professor Amanda L. Smith
, adding, “I work to instill in them the importance of reputation, honesty, and civility in law practice.”
A former civil rights litigator, Smith came to Widener Law’s Harrisburg campus five years ago. “The faculty drew me to Widener. They are an impressive group of scholars and teachers. They work well together and support each other,” she says. Her goals, however, focus on student achievement. “I want my students to become the best lawyers that they can be,” she states.
Professor Smith works primarily with first year students, teaching them the skills that they will need to succeed in law school and practice. “I teach my students how to read and analyze the law, research, cite legal authority, and communicate their analysis orally and in writing,” she notes. Seeing them demonstrate what they have learned makes the hard work worthwhile. “We end the second semester with oral argument,” says Professor Smith, concluding, “When I watch my students argue their cases, I am proud of how much they have accomplished over a short amount of time.”
Professor Smith is also proud of students’ accomplishments occurring outside of the classroom. In particular, she recognizes the current and former students who worked together to create the new Widener Journal of Law, Economics, and Race, “They worked tirelessly to start a new journal and published the first issue this past spring. Their dedication is inspiring.” She also enjoyed working with students in participating in the Wills for Heroes event that the Harrisburg Trial Advocacy Honor Society sponsored in which “Students and faculty from the law school partnered with local attorneys to draft wills and powers of attorney for local first-responders and their spouses.”
The Legal Writing Institute recently awarded Professor Smith
a scholarship grant based on a proposal entitled “Preparing for Practice from Behind the Bench.” The idea came from an upper level course she teaches on judicial opinion writing. “In teaching this course, I realized that opinion writing could be a good vehicle by which to teach legal writing to first-year law students,” she says. Additionally, the Harrisburg Legal Methods faculty has been studying “how to assess collaborative work by students,” and they presented those findings to the 2010 Legal Writing Institute’s Biennial conference in June.
“My hope is that my students become known as lawyers that represent their clients to the best of their abilities and with the utmost of integrity,” concludes Professor Smith.