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 15 clinics and field placement courses in which students earn academic credit by representing actual clients and doing other legal work under the supervision of faculty members and/or other lawyers. Clinics cover a broad range of practice areas including: asylum and human rights; child advocacy; civil rights enforcement; criminal prosecution and defense; elder law; energy and environmental law; intellectual property (patents and trademarks); mediation; nonprofit and municipal law; and tax. Field placement courses offer students opportunities to extern at non-profit legal services, advocacy and public policy organizations; government offices and agencies; private law firms; corporate in-house legal departments; prosecutors’ and criminal defenders’ offices; federal and state judicial chambers, and adjudication divisions of administrative agencies. Read more about Clinics and Field Placements »
Students can enroll in clinics and field placement courses that focus on particular practice areas or settings, or they can tailor their experience to their particular educational and career goals through an Individual Field Placement. The Law School's Field Placement Program Director coordinates and oversees all Individual Field Placements. Students engaged in an Individual Field Placement may enroll concurrently in 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 placements.Read more about Individual Field Placements »
Experiential legal education begins in the first year at UConn. All students take an integrated series of three 1L “Legal Practice” courses that focus on, and train students in, core lawyering skills. The fall semester introduces legal research, analysis, and writing. A January interterm (June for evening students) teaches negotiation. The spring course focuses on legal interviewing and counseling, as well as written and oral advocacy. This series of courses provides students with a set of critical lawyering skills that enables them to participate successfully in summer and part-time legal jobs, upperclass clinics and field placements, and ultimately a broad range of practice areas.
Simulation courses combine theory and practice through mock exercises that place students in various lawyering roles. Students learn to plan, execute, and constructively debrief such lawyering “events” as (depending on the course) negotiations, client counseling sessions, motion arguments, direct and cross examinations of witnesses, etc. These courses develop specific skills and competencies as well as students' general ability to solve problems, exercise professional judgment, and truly "think like a lawyer."Read more about the Simulation 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 a field placement course concurrently with a field placement seminar. This live-client or live-office experience, combined with the opportunities for guided reflection that the clinic or field placement seminar provides, helps students develop their professional identity and refine their career path while still in law school.Read more about practice-based learning »