The very best lawyers are problem-solvers. True, they have specialized knowledge—they may know the securities laws, for instance—and specialized skills—they may know how to cross-examine an expert witness. But truly able lawyers can take a problem, see its distinct elements, and identify and analyze possible solutions.
Stanford Law’s new Law and Policy Lab, our cover feature in this issue, recognizes that lawyers solve problems outside of courtrooms and boardrooms. Our graduates have always been influential in policy—its formulation, its implementation, and its execution. And our current students increasingly see that their careers will involve policy. The Law and Policy Lab helps prepare our students for that future.
Practicums are at the heart of this initiative. In each practicum, a faculty member works with a small group of students to help solve a real-world problem, usually at the request of a client. The clients and their problems come in all shapes and sizes. For instance, the U.S. Copyright Office asks how the recording of copyrights can be more efficient. Paul Goldstein and a group of students work to answer the question. Or the California Law Review Commission asks how to modernize California law regarding law enforcement access to the records of cell phone providers, social media companies, and Internet service providers. Bob Weisberg and a group of students work to answer those questions.