Professor Sandra Simpson shares Gonzaga Law’s leading edge curriculum in cultural competency

October 10, 2017

In July, Gonzaga Law Professor Sandra Simpson spoke at the 2017 Summer Conference of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning held at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s William H. Bowen School of Law. The title of the conference was “Teaching Cultural Competency and Other Professional Skills Suggested by ABA Standard 302.” Simpson’s presentation reminds us that just as Gonzaga Law led legal education by creating an innovative research and writing program, so too has the Law School broken new ground with its development of an ambitious professional values workshop series that reflects the school’s mission.

In her presentation, “Using the Workshop Format to Introduce 1L Students to Professional Skills and Values,” Simpson provided a “how-to” lesson for other schools and laid out the process that Gonzaga Law’s faculty and staff used to create the new 1L workshop series that focuses on helping students build a professional identity. The workshops cover subjects such as implicit bias, time management, and getting and giving feedback and complement the first-year classes in civil procedure, property, and torts as well as Gonzaga Law’s rigorous research and writing program and its litigation and transactional skills classes. The series aims to help new law students develop the emotional intelligence and professionalism essential to a rewarding career in law.

Gonzaga’s 1L workshop series is all the more important because, per ABA’s Standard 302, all law schools must establish learning outcomes for many areas of legal education but schools have the flexibility to individualize their programs in certain areas. Per Standard 302(d), law schools can develop unique programs by establishing learning outcomes for “other professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession.” As such, the 1L workshop series reflects the Law School’s mission and its learning outcomes are grounded in the Jesuit-based education and values that are integral to the Gonzaga community.