For students beginning their studies in or after fall 2014, The University of Toledo College of Law will require four hours of “live client” course work in a clinic or externship before graduation.
This is part of a larger effort to emphasize experiential learning and preparation for practice.
“The UT College of Law has long been a pioneer in clinical education,” said Ken Kilbert, UT associate dean for academic affairs. “Requiring students to complete a clinic or externship underscores our commitment to hands-on education and assures that our graduates have experience handling real legal problems for real clients.”
The UT College of Law is one of a minority of law schools in the country that requires this experience.
Opportunities to develop practical lawyering skills have been a part of the college’s curriculum for nearly 50 years, and the new requirement bolsters an already strong experiential curriculum. Moreover, the UT law students are anxious to be exposed to lawyer’s work; 72 percent of the class of 2013 participated in a clinic or an externship while at the college.
Current clinic offerings include the Civil Advocacy Clinic, Domestic Violence and Juvenile Law Clinic, Dispute Resolution Clinic, and the Criminal Law Practice Program. In addition, the Public Service Externship Clinic places students with government or nonprofit organizations, where they perform legal work under the supervision of an attorney.
The new requirement originally was proposed in the college’s recent strategic plan, which will revise the school’s curriculum to integrate practical skills throughout all three years of law school. The new strategic plan, as presented in November 2013, also calls for legal simulations in small sections of first-year courses and for a required upper-level drafting course.