At NYU School of Law, clinical training begins when students arrive on campus. As part of its “Lawyering Program,” 1Ls engage in simulations that expose them to research, interviewing and counseling clients, negotiating with parties, and even going to court. After mastering theory and gaining experience through role plays, 2Ls and 3Ls can participate in 39 clinics conducted by 15 full-time faculty members. These clinics, which range from civil litigation to juvenile defense, enable students to apply their “lawyering” experience to real cases from the New York area. The clinical program is also distinguished by its low student-to-faculty ratio, generally between 8:1 and 10:1, where students receive heavy attention from NYU faculty members.
While NYU grabs most of the headlines and accolades in the Big Apple, the City University of New York (CUNY) holds its own when it comes to clinical training for attorneys. Based in Queens, CUNY’s School of Law requires every third year student to participate in a clinic or concentration for one semester. They practice in areas like criminal defense, community and economic development, elderly care, health care, and immigrant rights. According to the National Association of Law Placement Directory, CUNY is among the nation’s leaders in producing graduates who enter public interest and public service law.
At Yale Law, 1Ls can enroll in clinics beginning in the spring. Closely supervised by faculty, students can represent real clients in over 20 practice areas, including prosecution, civil rights, and environmental protection. Students can also partner with Yale’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, to help populations like immigrants and veterans. To supplement their experience, simulation courses are also available in areas like mediation, arbitration, and legal writing.
The Washington University School of Law notes that its clinical program is its #1 draw to prospective students. The school offers over 18 clinics and externships designed to produce practice-ready attorneys who can do far more than just research and write. In particular, Washington University has developed a semester-in-practice externship, where students can pick a city and employer to gain experience. The University designs a custom curriculum for participating students, along with pairing them with a faculty member, practicing attorney, and a local alumni member to serve as a mentor. In doing so, students can grow a network in addition to gaining real-world skills.
Clinical training is the bedrock of the University of the District of Columbia’s curriculum. At the Clarke School of Law, students are required to complete one clinic, with most finishing two before graduation. Like NYU, the University of the District of Columbia prides itself on a low student-to-faculty ratio, between 8:1 and 10:1 in clinics. The school currently offers eight clinics, focusing on areas like immigrant rights, housing and consumer law, low income taxpayers, community development, and legislation.
The University of Michigan’s clinical program has doubled in size over the past five years. Now offering 17 clinics, which are available to students starting in their second year, Michigan Law’s program emphasizes both practical and interdisciplinary skills. These include unique programs where students can help entrepreneurs launch businesses or work alongside global human rights organizations to stop human trafficking. In addition, the program includes clinics on child advocacy, international transactions, and mediation.