1.7 Clinical & Experiential Programs
Second- and third-year students obtain practical training through the Law School’s clinical and experiential programs, in which students represent clients and engage in other lawyering roles under the supervision of full-time clinical teachers, faculty, and practicing attorneys. The Law School’s clinical and experiential programs give students an opportunity to learn litigation, legislative advocacy, and transactional skills. Students learn through classroom instruction, simulation, and representation of clients under the close supervision of the clinical teachers and attorneys. The program is intended to join the academic study of law with experience in interviewing clients, investigating facts, developing strategies, conducting negotiations, dealing with adverse parties, drafting legislation and lobbying legislators, drafting contracts, and participating in court proceedings.
The Law School’s clinical programs operate through seven distinct, autonomous units that function as separate ‘law firms’ with their own faculty and support staff. In addition, the Poverty and Housing Law Clinic, separate from the other clinics, students work on behalf of clients in a supervised field placement at an outside agency and take a companion seminar at the Law School.
The following rules apply to all courses in the clinical program:
- No more than 16 credits shall be awarded for clinical work.
- The maximum number of credits students may earn for a given clinic shall be nine, except for clinics that only run for two quarters, in which students may earn up to seven credits. (Currently, this is the Poverty and Housing Law Clinic.) An Independent Research project may not be used to evade applicable maximums or other rules regarding clinic participation. Students may enroll in no more than 14 total credits with the Director of Corporate Lab Programs and any other instructor who teaches in the Kirkland & Ellis Corporate Lab Clinic, including no more than nine credits in the Kirkland & Ellis Corporate Lab Clinic itself. All credits taken during the 2L and 3L years with any instructor who teaches in the Kirkland & Ellis Corporate Lab Clinic count toward this 14 credit limit.
- Students may enroll in a clinic for no more than three credits in any one quarter, with the following exception: a clinic that mandates two quarters of enrollment, and does not permit more than two quarters of enrollment, may offer one three-credit quarter and one four-credit quarter. Currently, this includes the Poverty and Housing Law Clinic.
- Students are awarded one credit for work averaging four hours per week per quarter, subject to the applicable maximums set forth above. Students are expected to keep a record of the time they spend in practical work done in conjunction with the clinic. Within the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic only, students may enroll in two Mandel clinical projects simultaneously with written permission of the relevant clinical supervisors. No other simultaneous enrollments in multiple clinics are permitted. Subject to the rules on simultaneous clinic enrollments, students may enroll in more than one clinic during their time at the Law School. If more demand exists for a clinic than supply in any given year, a student who has not yet had a clinical opportunity shall receive preference over a student who has already participated in one clinic and seeks to enroll in a different one.
- The authority to confirm enrollment in a clinic is vested in the respective clinical supervisor(s) who ensure(s) that students have completed all the necessary pre-requisites, met all relevant enrollment criteria (such as language skills), and are otherwise qualified to participate in the program. Expectations regarding the duration of the student’s involvement with the clinic and total credits per quarter must be arranged with the clinical supervisor prior to enrollment.
- Students must bid or register only once for each clinic in which they wish to participate (please see the quarterly registration instructions online for details on how to bid or register for specific clinics). The registration system allocates to each enrollment the default minimum credits for the quarter; adjustments based on actual work performed are reported by the clinical supervisors at the conclusion of each quarter to the Office of the Registrar. Students continuing participation in a clinic (as indicated by the clinical supervisor at the conclusion of each quarter participation) are automatically registered for the next quarter by the Office of the Registrar.
- With the exception of the Kirkland & Ellis Corporate Lab Clinic, grades for clinical work are posted once, for all quarters of involvement, at the conclusion of the student’s involvement with the clinic. Students receive the same grade for all quarters. For the Kirkland & Ellis Corporate Lab Clinic, grades are posted each quarter, and students may receive different grades for each quarter.
- Each clinic has a seminar component that students may be required to take during their participation in the clinic. Please check the schedule for meeting days/times, as students may not register for other offerings that meet contemporaneously.
- Students who work in a clinic over the summer are treated as returning clinic students in the autumn quarter and may continue with their clinic work during the following academic year. These students are automatically pre-registered by the Office of the Registrar (as indicated by the respective clinical supervisor) and therefore do not need to bid nor register themselves for the same clinic for the following autumn quarter.
- Students participating in a clinic that is part of the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic will need to pass a conflicts check, as detailed in the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic Conflicts of Interest Policy, and students participating in other clinics should check with the clinical faculty for the relevant conflicts policy for their clinic. Because of conflict rules, students may not participate in a clinic that is part of Mandel Legal Aid while simultaneously interning with a prosecutor office, the Department of Justice (including the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois), some other units of local, state or federal government that litigate against Mandel Legal Aid, and other employers that litigate against Mandel Legal Aid. Mandel Legal Aid Clinics consist of the following clinics: Abrams Environmental Law Clinic; Civil Rights Clinic: Police Accountability; Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project Clinic; Employment Law Clinic; Federal Criminal Justice Clinic; Housing Initiative Transactional Clinic; International Human Rights Clinic; and Mental Health Advocacy Clinic.
Students should keep in mind that they need to be enrolled in and earn at least nine credit hours per quarter to be considered full-time, and students must earn at least 105 credits to graduate. If the student is counting on a clinic to meet these minimums, the student must be sure to earn enough hours in the clinic, or the student may face serious consequences. Any student intending to earn clinical credits in a given quarter above the default minimum credits for a clinic—whether to meet the nine credit hour full-time requirement or the 105 credits to graduate requirement—should provide the Registrar with written confirmation from their clinical supervisor that sufficient clinical work will be available to that student to meet the necessary hours requirement.
Please see the online registration materials for the latest information concerning specific quarters, days, times, credits, and other relevant information. Additional information for specific clinical and/or experiential learning programs is available online at www.law.uchicago.edu/clinics.