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.
STATEMENT ON DIVERSITY AND INCLUSIVENESS
The Columbia Law School clinical program is dedicated to fostering an educational environment that accepts and fully includes all students. We seek to recognize an expansive and evolving understanding of diversity, encompassing considerations of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, age, religious status, socio-economic background, family history of post-baccalaureate opportunity, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status and life experience. We believe that diversity and inclusion in our clinical program enhance the intellectual experience for all and contribute to the betterment of the legal profession.
EQUAL ACCESS STATEMENT
Columbia University and the Law School’s clinical program are dedicated to facilitating equal access for students with disabilities and to cultivating a culture that is sensitive and responsive to the needs of students. To request an accommodation for a disability during participation in a law school clinic, students are welcome to reach out to the University’s Office of Disability Services, to the law school’s Academic Counselors in Student Services (for instance, Joel Kosman), or to their clinic professors directly. (Students may decide whether or not to inform their professors of any accommodations, as they prefer.)