A legal clinic, also called a law school clinic or law clinic, is a program organized through a law school that allows students to receive law school credit as they work part-time in real (not simulated) legal service atmospheres.
In legal clinics, students perform various tasks just as an attorney would do in the same job position, such as doing legal research, drafting briefs and other legal documents, and interviewing clients. Many jurisdictions even allow students to appear in court on behalf of clients, even in criminal defense.
Most law clinics are open only to third-year law students, although some schools may provide opportunities for second-year students as well. Legal clinics are generally pro bono, i.e., offering free legal services to clients, and supervised by law professors. There is usually no classroom component in legal clinics.
Participating in a legal clinic is a great way for students to gain hands-on experience before heading off into the job market. Legal clinics are available in many areas of law, including but not limited to:
- Community legal services
- Criminal law
- Elder law
- Environmental law
- Family law
- Human rights
- Immigration law
- Tax law
Legal clinic offerings vary greatly in both number and type by school, so be sure to investigate carefully while choosing a law school.
Legal clinical experience is highly recommended for law students; it looks great on your resume plus it gives you the chance to try out an area of law before committing to it in a full-time job.
Legal Clinics in the News