Clinical legal education is the study of law and lawyering in context. Working with real clients with real problems allows law students to begin the lifelong process of becoming thoughtful, responsible, and reflective lawyers. Students working under the close supervision of their clinical professors are encouraged to identify and pursue their own learning goals while providing essential representation to a wide range of clients.
The Columbia Law School clinical program has two additional goals. First, students are encouraged throughout their clinic experience to envision how legal institutions and practices can be reformed and reorganized to provide the best service to clients and the larger society. Second, clinic students provide pro bono service to clients who are unable to secure representation because of cost, the unpopularity of their causes, or the complexity of their problems.
COMMUNICATION SKILLS - Clinic students draft pleadings and discovery motions, interview and counsel clients, mediate complex disputes, and persuade an adversary or a judge.
REFLECTIVE PRACTICE - Students may want to learn to be more assertive, more tolerant, or more collaborative as a lawyer. Students are encouraged to tackle problems, such as procrastination or disorganization, that may undermine their ability to be effective lawyers.
UNDERSTANDING INSTITUTIONS - Students represent clients enmeshed in such systems as corrections, environmental regulation, nonprofit governance or child welfare.
BENEFITING SOCIETY - Students work on behalf of clients facing human rights abuses, environmental neglect, or racial discrimination. They confront legal problems that arise from poverty, racism, inequality and political tyranny.