Sarah Gerwig

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In this, the 150th year since Mercer University opened the doors of its fledgling law school, it is good to reflect. We reflect on who we are, where we came from, where we want to be in 2173, if law school and the law and humankind still exist 150 years from now.

Law school faculty and administration often describe our students’ ethic of public service; 1Ls (as we call them with affection) often arrive eager for opportunities to help others—and help they do. Almost every student-led organization spearheads generous annual volunteer projects, including coordinating backpack donation drives, providing holiday presents for children living in the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS) group homes, offering assistance for veterans, and raising thousands of dollars for local non-profit organizations. Other students perform pro bono legal work outside of classroom projects or law school courses. This work is deeply important and admirable, and part of the rich fabric of the Mercer Law School community.

My focus in this essay, however, is upon experiential public‑service‑learning coursesat the law school, exploring our current programs and where we may be as an institution in the future. These classes serve the dual purposes of providing representation or assistance in areas of need, but also preparing practice‑ready lawyers through supervised and reflective legal work. As we celebrate this important anniversary, experiential public‑service‑learning courses are at the heart of what makes us proud of the institution, and they will certainly feature prominently as we chart the future of legal instruction at Mercer.