UConn Law School was an early leader in experiential legal education and remains one today. In 1929, as a precursor to today's clinical programs, first- and second-year students assigned to small claims court were expected to take statements from claimants and otherwise assist the clerk in the preparation of cases for trial. In the late 1960s, the Law School was among the first to open an in-house, live-client clinic to train students while providing legal services to poor and other under-represented clientele. In 2012, the school became one of the first 15 U.S. law schools to require all students to have actual, supervised law practice experience in order to graduate, and to create the infrastructure that such a commitment entails.
UConn Law students "learn by doing" in several contexts:
UConn offers 16 clinical programs in which students earn academic credit by representing actual clients and doing other real legal work under the supervision of faculty members and other lawyers. These programs cover a broad range of practice areas including: asylum and human rights; children's advocacy; criminal prosecution and defense; energy and environmental law; intellectual property (patents and trademarks); mediation; nonprofit and municipal law; poverty law; and tax. Other clinics offer students placements in clerkships with state and federal judges, legislators and legislative staff, and administrative agencies.Read more about Clinical Programs »
Students can also arrange individual externships for credit with government agencies, non-profit organizations and other entities. The Law School's externship director coordinates these placements and teaches an optional seminar (required for those seeking to satisfy the practice-based learning requirement) that explores practical, ethical, and professional-role issues that students are likely to encounter in their externship placements.Read more about Individual Externships »
Students participating in one of UConn Law's international exchange programs can also arrange an individual externship while studying abroad. Students enrolled in such an international externship can satisfy the Practice-Based Learning Requirement by simultaneously enrolling in the International Legal Practice course.
Experiential legal education begins in the first year at UConn. All students take an intensive first-semester course in legal research and writing, as well as a "Moot Court" mini-term in which they write and argue a mock appeal. But the most distinctive feature of the first-year curriculum is a spring course that teaches client interviewing, counseling and negotiation – three core lawyering skills – through a series of simulated exercises. At last count, fewer than about 10% of U.S. law schools had a similar required course. Read more about the First-Year Skills Program »
A growing number of upperclass electives are built around "simulations" and other exercises that place students in lawyering roles requiring them to address the needs of, and perform lawyering tasks for, a hypothetical client. These exercises develop students' ability to solve problems, exercise professional judgment, and "think like a lawyer" in the fullest sense of that term.Read more about the Simulation Based Courses »
Three student organizations – the Moot Court Board, the Mock Trial Society, and the Negotiation and Dispute Resolution Society – focus on helping students develop particular lawyering skills. These organizations sponsor intramural competitions and regularly send teams to regional and national competitions. Read more about the Moot Court Board »Read more about the Mock Trial Society »
In 2012, the Law School became one of the first 15 U.S. law schools to require all students to have actual, supervised law practice experience in order to graduate. Students can satisfy this "practice-based learning requirement" by taking any clinic or enrolling in an externship concurrently with the externship seminar. This live-client or live-office experience, combined with the opportunities for guided reflection that the clinic or externship seminar provides, helps students develop their professional identity and refine their career path while still in law school.Read more about practice-based learning »