Clinics Let Students Get Real
The National Law Journal
May 18, 2015
Joel H. Bernstein comments on the importance of law clinics which provide hands-on training for up and coming lawyers
Clinics have been part of the curriculum on some campuses for more than four decades, but now law schools are adding them to give students more "real world" training. Legal employers clamor for new hires who can perform well immediately, while students who plan to hang out a shingle realize they'll need some practical experience.
The American Bar Association now requires students to earn at least six credits through "experiential" courses, which include clinics, externships and simulations. Six schools mandate that students complete at least one clinic, and another 40 schools guarantee every student a seat in a clinic.
"When you think about medical school, those students are seeing patients and cutting up cadavers," he said. "They're doing all sorts of stuff from almost the first week of the program. In our profession, until clinics started to become a big part of the educational process, people were just thrown in." Today new lawyers handle complex matters the day they are sworn into the bar, Bernstein said, yet he spent his first years on the job teaching himself to practice.