Professor Gary Craig Promotes Practical Experience

Gary Craig tailors his curriculum so students are practice-ready once they finish law school. He calls upon years of experience in a large firm and incorporates those skills and strategies into his lectures. “I treat my students as if they were a group of new associates at my law firm,” he said. Students have shown their appreciation for his teaching style and have named him the Day Division Professor of the Year in 2013.

Craig challenges students to build upon the doctrines and theories they have learned by applying them in a simulated dispute. His yearlong course, called the Civil Litigation Skills Practicum, prepares students for all the steps leading up to trial, from the pleading stage to discovery to motions. “The Practicum gives them the chance to work on essential tasks that they’ll encounter in the workplace,” he said. Each year, Craig devises a simulated case for the class to work through during the semester. The small class size enables Craig to give extensive feedback and spend time with students one-on-one. “One of the main things I enjoy about the job is being able to meet with students and give feedback on a paper or advice on career plans,” he said.

Though he’s only been teaching for three years, Craig brings with him a wealth of firm experience to share with his aspiring civil litigators. Prior to joining the Loyola faculty in 2010, he was a partner in the Los Angeles office of Sidley Austin LLP and practiced in all areas of litigation.

“When I started practicing, I had to learn a lot of things on the job; now I’m taking all of those experiences and teaching them in class,” he said. He also places heavy emphasis on drafting documents such as pleadings, document requests and motions -- all of which are crucial tasks in a civil litigation firm. 

“A student told me that she was able to use an assignment that she submitted in class as a writing sample in an interview. Even though she had not worked in a civil litigation firm before, her work in the class was significant enough to her employer, that she got the job,” he said. 

In the fall, Craig will assume a new title, director of Concentrations, and play a major role in this area of curriculum. The Concentrations are composed of 12 areas of focused study that combine a rigorous classroom experience with clinical and experiential training, as well as an opportunity for alumni networking. Ranging from Criminal Justice to Sports Law, the Concentrations offer a wide variety of subject-matters. Each Concentration also offers the benefit of a faculty adviser to help guide students through the process. 

“Our Concentration program is unique; Loyola has a long tradition of combining doctrine with practice, and we build upon it every year because that’s what the work force demands,” he said. In addition to directing the Concentrations, Craig will also continue to serve as the faculty adviser for the Civil Litigation and Advocacy Concentration.

Last year, Craig and Associate Clinical Professor Aimee Dudovitz gave a presentation called, “It’s Not the End but the Beginning: How to Make the Most out of the Last Class of the Year” during the Second Annual Western Regional Legal Writing Conference.  Their presentation was designed as a success guide for first-year students who are starting summer positions. They covered such topics as email do’s and don’ts and how to complete an assignment from an attorney effectively. They also outlined the resources available to help students improve their writing.

Teaching the Millennial Generation has inspired Craig to find innovative ways to appeal to his students. He was recently awarded a grant to create a library of video clips which demonstrate civil litigation skills.  “I’ve found that many of our students are visual learners, so it’s helpful for them to learn concepts through video.” The library will be comprised of feature film and television clips, simulations and actual courtroom footage. The video clips will be housed on Loyola’s website and available to Loyola professors.

“I want students to have a level of confidence when they’re asked to draft a motion, respond to discovery, or take a deposition because they’ve already been exposed to the whole process,” he said. “They can’t possibly know everything, but they’ll be ahead of the students who didn’t have the opportunities in the Practicum.”

This spring, Craig found another way to help students get ahead. He participated in the Law School’s inaugural Law Start program, designed to give admitted students an advanced primer on essential law-school skills. Craig worked with the admitted students on case briefing, walking them through an example model brief he and Professor Cindy Archer crafted.