A Former Partner, Professor Views Students as ‘New Associates’
For most of Director of Concentrations Gary Craig’s students, class is just another day at the office.
“I treat my students as if they were a group of new associates at a law firm,” said Craig, a professor at Loyola since 2010. His associates have ample opportunity to practice their craft through Craig’s myriad exercises simulating real-world experiences.
As director of concentration programs, Craig oversees all 12 areas of focused study, which combine rigorous classroom experience with clinical and experiential training, as well as the opportunity for alumni networking. The subject areas range from Civil Litigation & Advocacy, for which he serves as advisor, to Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Law.
In his yearlong Civil Litigation Skills Practicum, Craig challenges students to build upon the doctrines and theories they have learned by applying them to a simulated dispute. The class 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 as litigators,” he said.
Each year, Craig devises a simulated case through which the class works. In one regular exercise, Craig imports actors to play witnesses in a deposition workshop. 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 teaching is being able to meet with students and give feedback on a paper or advice on career plans,” he noted.
Craig serves as a faculty advisor to the Judge Stephen E. O'Neil Young Lawyers Mentoring Program, in which law students help inner-city high school students train for and conduct a mock trial. For this and other efforts, Craig was awarded the David P. Leonard Memorial Faculty Service Award in 2016. Additionally, students named him Professor of the Year in 2013 and 2015.
Before teaching, Craig was fully ensconced in the law firm world; he was a partner in the Los Angeles office of Sidley Austin LLP and practiced in all areas of litigation. His background has served him well in his current position.
“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 for a civil litigator. “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.”