The University of New Hampshire Law Review


Noted patent lawyer and MIT professor Dr. Robert Rines founded the Franklin Pierce Law Center in 1973 with the aim of training working professionals to practice patent law. The founding faculty comprised working patent lawyers from various fields, it offered the only patent practice course available at the time, and the curriculum overall emphasized practical skills over theory.

Today, half a century later, Dr. Rines’s vision not only endures, but flourishes.

In addition to becoming one of the world’s most celebrated intellectual property institutions, University of New Hampshire (UNH) Franklin Pierce School of Law∗ is the home of two pioneering programs that animate and exemplify the school’s founding principles: The Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program, which equips students to practice law in New Hampshire from the moment they graduate, and the Hybrid J.D. Program, which enables working professionals to pursue an IP(“intellectual property”)-focused legal education while maintaining their day jobs. These programs, with their groundbreaking approaches to curriculum and pedagogy, have become models for what the future of legal education should look like—training students to practice law, rather than to simply think, talk, and write about it.

Although the notion of elevating practice over theory has traditionally been shunned by the upper echelons of the bar admission industrial complex, the idea of creating “practice ready” or “client ready” graduates has become a common refrain in public policy discussions about legal system reform.

In short, Dr. Rines was ahead of his time.

This essay first examines my own experiences with UNH Franklin Pierce, as a student and as a member of the affiliate faculty, and then reflects upon my own career and how my experience at the school has helped lead me to success. I then apply that learning to sketch out a broad proposal for what the future of legal education and bar admission might look like, describing its key features and characteristics, and identifying some key questions that remain unanswered.

Repository Citation

22 U.N.H. L. Rev. 421 (2024).