From left, The Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law’s Matt Nehmer, Jackie Gardina, Deb Moritz, and Paul Larsen were integral in creating the Hack-the-JD event.
Paul Wellman

The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law are helping to transform legal education with the launch of their innovative Hybrid JD program, created during a “hackathon” event last year that brought together legal minds from across the nation to reimagine law school. The event invited participants to work in teams over a 36-hour period to design a course of study that better prepares law-school students with the necessary knowledge, skills, and value to serve future clients.

The new program, the first of its kind in California, combines online learning with intensive residencies. It includes a 12-hour residency each month at the Ventura campus, where students put theory into practice. Students take a Lawyering Skills course along with a final capstone project that tests their ability to demonstrate the critical skills needed to begin making immediate contributions to the legal community.

Joan Howarth, dean emerita and professor of law at Michigan State University College of Law, was among the Hack-the-JD event participants, which included those from within Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law, as well as nationwide legal educators.

“Legal education is ripe for improvement, but too often there’s talk without action,” Howarth said. “Hack-the-JD was inspiring because national experts worked with the equally impressive Colleges of Law faculty and students to design a law-school curriculum that puts future clients first.”



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