preLaw - Spring 2017 - 31
Top 20 Law Schools
in its 20 clinics, and many students participate in more than one. That helped
Yale earn an A+ in our annual assessment
of the best schools for practical training. It placed third behind Northeastern
University School of Law and University of
St. Thomas School of Law - Minneapolis.
Those three schools have been at the top
for the past few years.
Fifteen schools are new to the list this
year, including Valparaiso University Law
School (A+) and University of Connecticut
(A-). Schools that have improved the most
are University of Cincinnati College of
Law (from B+ to A), The University of
Mississippi School of Law (from A- to A)
and Syracuse University College of Law
(from B to A-).
Around the country, law school students are getting experience with clients
and in courtrooms. Students may work in
clinics and externships. They may compete
in moot court and practice trial skills. Or,
they may participate in simulation courses,
where they can practice their lawyering
skills in a controlled setting.
All students now must complete six
credit hours of practical training courses,
per the American Bar Association's 2015
rule. That has ensured that experiential
learning is here to stay, and has led more
schools to better prepare law students for
the real world.
University of St.
Thomas - Mn.
Yale Law School
University of Arizona
UC - Irvine
University of Wisconsin
University of Denver
University of Colorado
University of Utah
University of Cincinnati
Cardozo School of Law
Golden Gate University
School of Law
Washington and Lee
School of Law
20 University of
The rankings are based on experiential
learning opportunities, with data from
the American Bar Association (ABA) and
individual law schools. We looked at five
categories: clinics; externships; simulation
courses; interschool competitions; and
We placed the most weight on clinical
experience, at 38 percent. Experts say it
is a particularly effective practical training
tool. Students, under faculty direction,
work with clients in a number of legal
areas. The score was based on the number of clinical positions filled compared
to the number of students enrolled in the
school. First-year students were included,
since some schools open clinics to them.
We obtained all data from the ABA.
Externships were given the second
highest weight, at 24 percent. Students
get experience by working in prosecutor
offices, government agencies and nonprofits, to name a few. They get hands-on
training by working with attorneys and
judges. The score was based on the number of positions filled compared to the
number of students enrolled in the school.
We obtained data from the ABA.
Simulations accounted for 21 percent.
This training method seems to be growing
more popular as schools seek to promote
lawyering skills in classroom settings. It's
effective and less expensive, experts say.
The score was based on the number of
positions filled compared to the number
of students enrolled in the school. We
obtained data from the ABA.
Interschool competitions account for
5 percent. The score was based on the
number of students who participated compared to the number of students enrolled
in the school. We obtained data from the
We asked schools to provide information about additional offerings that are not
reflected in ABA data, and this accounted
for the final 10 percent. For example,
schools requiring pro bono work were
awarded points for those efforts.