LSU Law Center alumni and adjunct faculty members Frank Holthaus and Ed Walters are on a mission to see as many as five classrooms at the LSU Law Center renovated to include courtrooms.
“There’s only one courtroom at the Law Center right now, and if we can add a few more it would really allow us to better teach litigation and give students a more complete experience,” says Holthaus. “The courtrooms are vital because that’s where we’re able to bring together all of the different subject matters the students are learning about in the classroom and show them how to apply it in a real-world setting as a practicing lawyer would.”
Shortly after the annual Trial Advocacy Program wrapped up on Aug. 14, Holthaus and Walters formed the Alumni Courtroom Committee to begin raising funds for the renovations. Though they’ve identified five classrooms that could be retrofitted, they’re starting with two: Room 107 on the first floor of the Law Center and the Bruce Macmurdo Classroom on the second floor.
Architectural designs have already been drafted and are nearing the approval stage from LSU. Once that happens—and about $75,000 is raised—work on the first two renovations will begin. Holthaus and Walters are confident work on the first courtrooms will be underway by the end of the year and wrap up shortly thereafter.
“What’s really great about this is that we’re going to add the courtrooms without eliminating any classroom space,” Walters says. “All the rooms will be multi-use as classrooms and courtrooms.”
Professor Jeffrey Brooks, director of the Law Center Moot Court and Trial Advocacy Programs, says another great aspect of the courtroom designs is that they’re all varied in size and layout.
“It really would be a remarkable resource for the students,” he says, noting peer law centers typically have about a half-dozen courtrooms. “It gives us a practical and competitive advantage to be able to provide students with more courtroom experiences.”
Demand for courtroom use at the LSU Law Center is always high, and especially in the fall semester when the Moot Court and Trial Advocacy competitions are in full swing. Along with regular classes that are held in the lone courtroom, there are 35 Moot Court and Trial Advocacy teams vying for space this academic year.
The Alumni Courtroom Committee has already begun raising money for the new courtrooms, with a long-term goal of securing about $200,000 to add five courtrooms.
“By August of next year, when we have the next Trial Advocacy Program, I think we’ll have at least three more courtrooms and maybe more,” Walters says.
Those interested in making a donation to the effort can contact Karen Soniat at firstname.lastname@example.org or (225) 578-8645.