In November 2012, UConn Law adopted a “practice-based learning” requirement which ensures that all students have at least one intensive, carefully supervised, live-lawyering experience before graduating from the Law School. Fewer than 20 other U.S. law schools currently have a similar requirement.
The Law School has long been a leader in experiential legal education, and students today can choose from a very broad and diverse range of clinics and field placements to satisfy this requirement. These programs offer an essential supplement to classroom-based learning and assist in preparing our students to practice law competently and ethically.
Students can satisfy the requirement in several different ways. First, they can enroll in any of the Law School’s 16 faculty-supervised clinical programs including the Criminal Clinic (est. 1969); the Tax Clinic (est. 1999); the Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Law Clinic (est. 2007), which is part of a state economic development initiative; an Asylum and Human Rights Clinic (est. 2002) that helps refugees from torture and persecution gain political asylum; and a Mediation Clinic (est. 1994) that helps resolve employment discrimination cases pending before the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO). Clinical programs also include specialized field placement courses in which students are placed with non-profit public interest organizations, state agencies, judges and justices, and legislators.
A second way students can satisfy the new requirement is through individual field placements. In order to qualify, the sponsoring organization must be certified as providing high-quality legal supervision, and the student must work at least 12 hours per week in the placement and participate in an accompanying seminar.
A third way to satisfy the requirement will be to enroll in a course that includes a substantial component in which students participate in teams or as a group in one or more live lawyering projects.