When to Take a Clinic
As with all of your registration decisions, you should enroll in a clinic when you feel that you will derive the greatest educational benefit. There is no single best time within your law school career to schedule your clinical experiences. As clinical courses usually require a significant time commitment and award a substantial number of academic credits, you must plan how you will fit them into your time in law school.
Some students choose to take a clinical course in the second year of law school, enabling them to assume the role of lawyer as early as possible, applying their classroom learning to real cases and providing valuable services to clients in disadvantaged populations. You will derive satisfaction from taking your newly-acquired legal skills and using them to benefit real clients, as you will be doing after law school.
Clinics also help students integrate legal theory and the actual practice of the profession. A clinical course will give you a new perspective on how the law functions in society and how lawyers behave. This additional perspective will enrich your learning in the rest of your substantive law courses.
Taking a clinical course will also help you to learn about yourself and see what aspects of legal practice you enjoy and in which you can be successful. You can then use this knowledge to make better choices about additional courses or job opportunities. Students often report that their clinic course experiences are an asset in applying for jobs.
Some students prefer to wait until their third year of law school, seeing the clinic as a transition between law school and their professional career. Taking a clinic later in law school allows you to benefit from having taken additional substantive and/or procedural courses that you can then apply to your work in the clinic. In addition, some clinics have prerequisites which preclude students from enrolling earlier.
- The Federal Tax Clinic requires that students have taken Introduction to Taxation.
- The Civil Justice Clinic requires that students have taken Evidence and have completed three semesters of law school, so they can appear in court.
- The CARES Clinic is open to all second and third year students.
- The Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic requires that students have completed three semesters of law school, so they can appear in court.
- The Advanced Advocacy Clinic is open, by application only, to a limited number of students who have successfully completed one of the other clinical courses.
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