The National Jurist - Spring 2017 - 25
univerSiTy of cincinnaTi college of law
students work with Judge Robert Winkler at the
courthouse. The school's Center for Professional
Development oversees externships, volunteer
opportunities and job placement, so all real-world
opportunities are under one umbrella.
said. "Now, not only do we have all these
activities and we're talking about them
and coordinating them, we actually are
sitting down with students, and we can
talk to them from a career perspective
about how those experiences will then
help them professionally in the workplace."
The school is just minutes away from
the heart of downtown Cincinnati, allowing for opportunities with major law
firms, Fortune 100 companies and one of
the top legal-aid organizations, Bard said.
Among the school's clinics is the Ohio
Innocence Project, which assists prison
inmates who claim to be innocent of
crimes for which they have been convicted. This year, the school received a $15
million donation from local philanthropist Richard Rosenthal, marking the largest-ever gift to any innocence program in
the country. This has funded three new
full-time clinical faculty members.
But clinics are not the only resources
for practical training.
"It sounds as if clinic is the gold standard and anything else is less than, but
the experiences that our students are
getting in the externship arena rival the
experiences they would get at the clinic,"
The Best Schools
One of the most robust clinical programs
in the country can be found at Yale Law
During the second semester of their
first year, students at the school can begin
participating in clinics and appear in
court or before other tribunals with a
practice license. At most schools, students
can't participate in clinics until their second or third years. But Yale's clinical programs were founded on the belief that
"students should move back and forth
between clinical course work and traditional doctrinal courses throughout their
legal education, bringing theory to their
practice and practical experience to theoretical inquiry," Michael Wishnie, deputy
dean for experiential education, wrote in
a chapter of the 2015 book "The New
1L: First-Year Lawyering With Clients."
Eighty percent of Yale Law School
students participate in one or more of
the school's 20 clinics, and unlike some
schools, where the student-faculty ratio is
low - no more than six to eight students
per term - Yale's clinical faculty admit
more students, which means they can
serve more clients, Wishnie said.
Just this spring, the school launched
four new clinical courses, he said.
Among the most popular Yale clinics is
the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation
Project, which is now in its 11th year.
Students work with San Francisco deputy
city attorneys to conceive, develop and
litigate some of the most innovative public-interest lawsuits in the country. Since
its founding, nearly 200 students have
worked in the clinic, clocking roughly
30,000 hours of work for the city.
"They've worked on a consumerprotection suit that made the cover of
Business Week," said professor Heather
Gerken. "They helped win a billiondollar judgment against the lead paint
industry, which has been notoriously hard
to hold accountable. They worked on
the Proposition 8 marriage equality case,
dubbed 'the trial of the century.' They
The NaTioNal JurisT
are now working on what we think is the
only active food-law trial in the country.
They have done cutting-edge work on
privacy issues, gay rights, environmental
reform, housing, immigration and labor/
employment. It's been a great run."
Food law is a growing specialty area at
Yale Law School, and during the past few
years, a thriving community of students
interested in food law has blossomed.
The school has thus added special courses
through the Environmental Protection
Clinic and the Ludwig Center for
Community & Economic Development
Clinic, which has worked with CitySeed
for more than 10 years. The clinic works
with the nonprofit on legal issues surrounding the operation of farmers markets, researches and analyses food policy
and advocates for improvement in foodrelated laws and regulations.
Northeastern University, which consistently scores an A+ for its practical training offerings, says it remains more committed than ever to placing experiential
education at the core of its legal training.
"Nobody has as much as we do," said
professor Martha Davis. "Many schools
offer it now, but we're the only one that
Students must complete four externships (called co-ops at the school) before
graduating, and first-years participate in a
clinic in which they represent an institutional client. Students will help organizations such as the National Law Center for
Homelessness & Poverty, doing research,
for example, on allocation of resources or
"We think theory is important, but the
way you really learn what theory is, is by
doing," Davis said.
T h a t's w h y t h e l a w s c h o o l a t
Northeastern, which itself was founded
as a co-op university, requires students
to do lots of doing, such as the four field
placements. The idea is drawn from engineering students, who get training before
they're put on the job. Law is another
profession where that's critical, Davis
said. Students can focus their co-ops in
one area and develop competency in their
future specialty, or they can use the coops to learn about multiple practice areas.