In November of 2012, the Law School adopted a practice-based learning requirement which will ensure that all students have at least one intensive, carefully supervised, live lawyering experience before graduating from law school. The new requirement takes effect with the entering class in the fall of 2013. Fewer than 20 other U.S. law schools in the country currently have a similar requirement.
Students will be able to satisfy the new requirement in several different ways. First, they can enroll in any of the Law School’s 15 faculty-supervised clinical programs including the Criminal Clinic (est. 1969); the Tax Clinic (est. 1999); the Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Clinic (est. 2007), which is part of a state economic development initiative; an Asylum and Human Rights Clinic (est. 2002), that helps refugees from torture and persecution gain political asylum; and a Mediation Clinic (est. 1994), that helps resolve disputes between landlords and tenants as well as other matters. Clinical programs also include externship clinics in which students are placed with non-profit public interest organizations, state agencies, judges, and legislators. A second way in which students will be able to satisfy the new requirement is through an individual externship. In order to qualify, such an externship must be certified as providing high-quality legal supervision, and the student must work at least 14 hours per week in the placement and participate in an accompanying seminar. A third way to satisfy the requirement will be to enroll in a course that includes a substantial component in which students participate in teams or as a group in one or more live lawyering projects.
The new practice-based learning requirement was proposed by the Curriculum Review Committee, which was constituted a year ago to conduct a multi-year, comprehensive review of the Law School’s curriculum and recommend changes to it. The committee’s work is continuing and more proposals should be forthcoming.