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Houston Law Review


Currently, two of the hot topics in legal academia are “access to justice” and experiential learning. The justice system’s failure to adequately serve all people irrespective of wealth and position has brought access to justice to the forefront. Experiential learning has made the headlines due to the recent changes in the American Bar Association standards regarding the incorporation of experiential learning into the law school curriculum. Despite being hot topics, these issues are often neglected or given short shrift in the law school curriculum, particularly in the first year. Law schools grapple with how to work towards closing the legal aid gap and helping their students become practice ready. This article discusses an exercise that the legal-writing faculty at Suffolk University Law School integrated into the first-year curriculum to address this shortfall. Specifically, legal-writing faculty partnered with a pro-bono organization to introduce students to the role that they can play in closing the legal aid gap. The exercise provided students with an opportunity to collaborate and research real-world problems under time-pressured conditions. This article explains our experience integrating real-world legal research into a legal research and writing class in a social justice context. It discusses why to incorporate the exercise as well as how to implement it. Finally, it examines the benefits and challenges involved.

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