Wintersession: Students gain skills, insights, from leading practitioners

January 7, 2013Duke Law News

Duke Law students honed their practical skills in short courses taught by leading practitioners and scholars during the Law School’s annual Wintersession, held Jan. 3 to 5. Classes such as Deposition Training, Doing Business in China, and Drafting Discovery Requests and Motions helped equip students with professional skills and insights that will be useful from the outset of their careers.

Students earned a half-credit for each of the sections offered by faculty and domestic and international practitioners, many of them alumni. 

Shami Patel ’97, a senior partner at Hexagon Securities and member of the Board of Visitors, taught Evolution of the Banking Sector.  He described his students as “smart and engaged.”

“The fact they they’ve signed up for Wintersession shows that they are motivated,” he said. “And in return, we were able to give them some knowledge and context that will help them in future practice, but also in their coursework here. They’ll be able to learn more, because they’ll have a better handle on that context and a better understanding of some of the subtleties.”

In his class, students examined various business models of financial services entities, ranging from community banks to corporate banks to investment banks.   “We then looked at how new regulation will change business models in very meaningful ways,” he said. “We tried to connect the new regulatory regime and the consequences of the macroeconomic implosion and give the students a look at how both regulation and macroeconomics have altered how business models have evolved.”

David Roche ’13, who has immersed himself in environmental law during the academic year, “chose very different topics” during Wintersession:  Pharmaceutical and Biotech U.S. and EU Law, taught by Elizabeth Fuller, a partner in the Lyon, France, office of Bird & Bird; and Constitutional Law in Latin America: Organization of the Government and Comparison of the Judiciaries, taught by Ricardo Li Rosi, a judge on Argentina’s National Civil Court of Appeals.

“Wintersession offers a great opportunity to address subjects that I don’t have time to commit an entire semester to, but want to learn,” said Roche. “You can access a lot of practical knowledge, but you can also get into some very diverse topics.”

He said the close contact with instructors was an important part of the Wintersession experience.

“I got to learn from brilliant people whose perspective I would never normally be exposed to.”

Margaret Hu ’00, a visiting assistant professor who previously worked in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, taught a class on National Security Biometric Dataveillance Policy.

“My course allowed students to think about how they would address the human rights and civil rights issues from the perspective of a policymaker,” Hu said. “I think Wintersession provides a wonderful opportunity for students to learn hands-on skills and to think about what it means to be a lawyer, not just a law student.” 

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