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Clinical Program Overview

Our 10 in-house, live-client clinics are distinguished by their breadth and diversity, comprehensiveness of experiences for students, and their involvement in cases and projects with far-reaching legal or social impact. Clinic law students are guided by a diverse and talented group of law professors with experience in litigation, legislation, mediation or transactional practice. Several members of the clinical faculty have been honored for their teaching, public service or related scholarship.

Jon Dubin in clinics

Professor Jon Dubin
Associate Dean
for Clinical Education

A large majority of our students enroll in at least one clinic for the “hands-on,” intensively supervised instruction and the opportunity to provide service along the way. The law school explicitly guarantees that students will have the opportunity for either taking a clinic or externship before graduation (although it might not always be the clinic or externship of first choice). The school requires that students take a clinic or other practice skills course before graduation.

The Clinical Program has inspired and launched the careers of many prominent public interest lawyers. It also is extremely popular with students planning careers in private or corporate practice. Graduates of the clinical program have gone on to positions in the nation’s most respected law firms and the legal departments of Fortune 500 corporations.

Working on real cases, students learn essential lawyering skills, the substantive and procedural law governing their clinic’s practice areas, and professional values and applied legal ethics. Among other responsibilities, they regularly handle full trials and evidentiary hearings; significant appellate arguments and briefs; major business and real estate transactions; legislative and administrative testimony and comments; and complex mediations, negotiations and counseling sessions. Use the menu bar at the left to find news about recent activities of the clinics. 

Each clinic includes a seminar component, often using simulated skills instruction, and regular individual supervisory sessions and case rounds. The seminars, case rounds and supervisory sessions reinforce the learning of lawyering skills and ethics and encourage the development of mechanisms of self-critique for a lifetime of practice. They also often lead to the exploration of larger theoretical issues, providing a bridge from the classroom study of theory and doctrine to the reality of practice.

Perhaps even more significant than the acquisition of lawyering skills is the development of a sense of professional identity and professional responsibility. Clinic law students regularly confront difficult ethical questions and strategic choices and must learn to live with the consequences of their decisions. They must learn both to communicate effectively with persons whose life experiences and perspectives are often quite different from their own, and to work collaboratively with other members of the clinical law firm.

Apart from its educational accomplishments, the Rutgers–Newark clinical program is a major public interest legal institution in its own right. The clinics are one of the only free legal service providers in New Jersey in some subject areas and all of the clinics help fill large voids in service coverage for low-income and underrepresented persons and groups. Over the years, they have helped to establish numerous important legal precedents on the national, regional and local levels. The clinical program also has helped make the law school an important partner in empowering, protecting and preserving the surrounding community.

Grounded in a progressive tradition, our clinics have evolved to meet the legal, educational and cultural challenges of the 21st century. We have focused more attention on international legal systems, understanding and incorporating international human rights law, and sharing approaches to clinical teaching with educators and students in other countries. With technology transforming legal practice, we have developed state-of-the art legal management systems in the law school’s spacious clinical office suite to administer our operations and to better instruct students in the ethical and efficient practice of law. As increasing racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity is changing the demographics of our nation and region, we have recognized the heightened importance of staffing a truly diverse clinical faculty and of incorporating cross-cultural lawyering competencies into lawyering skills instruction.

Finally, we have become more collaborative, holistic and interdisciplinary in our work and in developing and teaching lawyering models that focus on creative problem solving.