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News Posted on June 29, 2018

Professor Shestowsky to lead new Lawyering Skills Education Program

Professor Donna Shestowsky has been named Director of the new Lawyering Skills Education Program at UC Davis School of Law.

Shestowsky will teach Lawyering Process, a new, mandatory spring-semester course for first-year students. She also will oversee the law school’s skills curriculum, including the legal research and writing, trial-practice and appellate-advocacy programs.

“I am very excited” about the new position, Shestowsky said. “It is great that the faculty and the Dean took steps to ensure that all students will have the opportunity to hone some of the advocacy skills that lawyers are most typically called upon to use for their clients in today’s legal world.”

The new course will “focus on the interpersonal skills that are needed for effective representation,” Shestowsky said. “How should lawyers interview new clients so they truly understand their interests and goals? How should they explain the law to them in conversation, and brainstorm effective solutions to their problems? How should they negotiate with opposing counsel to get an outcome that meets their needs?”

Shestowsky proposed the course after speaking to students and alumni, and convening a focus group, to “better understand what law students wished they had learned during their 1L year,” she said. “A common theme that came out of these discussions is that students would benefit from honing their client-counseling and negotiation skills while in school.”

Other top law schools are experimenting with ways to incorporate skills into the curriculum, Shestowsky said, but “ours will be a unique course, not modeled after any other program.”

In her larger role as Director, Shestowsky will supervise and support existing skills programs. Shestowsky’s new position dovetails with her longtime role as coach of King Hall’s highly successful Negotiations Team, which she helped found, and her teaching and research in the areas of negotiation and client counseling.

Professor Shestowsky, who has a law degree and a Ph.D. in psychology, joined the UC Davis School of Law faculty in 2004. She is a Professor of Law and Martin Luther King, Jr. Research Scholar, and teaches Criminal Law, Negotiation Strategy, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Advanced Negotiation and Client Counseling, and a seminar in Legal Psychology.  She was the 2007 recipient of the Law School’s Distinguished Teaching Award.