Frequently Asked Questions

Please use this page to search the most frequently asked questions about the Office of Clinical and Experiential Learning.

 

What is “clinical and experiential learning”?

“Clinical and experiential learning” is the study of how to be a lawyer. Of course, every class in law school is part of the study of how to be a lawyer, but clinical and experiential classes focus on learning essential professional skills, such as interviewing, counseling, motion practice, trial practice, negotiation, and other skills. In addition, clinical and experiential classes ask you to learn by doing – whether in simulations constructed to address particular situations and skills, or in the context of real legal matters.

What is the experiential learning requirement?

In order to graduate, students are required to complete 6 credit hours of experiential coursework and earn the grade of “B-“ or better in each course. If the course is graded Pass/Fail or Credit/No Credit, the student’s performance must reach the level of a “B-“ or better in order to earn the “Pass” or “Credit.”

What is the writing requirement?

In order to graduate, each student must also complete a significant written work representing substantial legal research.  A student may satisfy this requirement by:

1) obtaining a grade of B- or better for a paper or papers in a course, other than a required course

2) obtaining a grade of B- or better for an Independent Research Paper

3) completing a note prepared for the New York Law School Law Review and supervised by the faculty advisor or

4) completing and passing with a grade of B- or better any course approved by the Associate Dean as “Designated Writing Course.”

What is the pro bono requirement?

The pro bono requirement is not a New York Law School requirement, but rather a requirement set by the New York Court of Appeals for admission to the New York bar (which the vast majority of our students seek upon graduation.) In order to be admitted to the New York bar, applicants must submit certification that they have done at least 50 hours of legal work, supervised by an attorney, on behalf of low-income people or organizations who cannot otherwise afford representation, OR work at a government agency or court. Some clinics and field placements may help a student satisfy that requirements.

What kinds of clinical and experiential learning opportunities does NYLS offer?

In simulation courses, students work on simulated matters, taking on the role of the lawyer in roleplay exercises and written assignments. Students in externship and other field placement courses work in law offices or judges’ chambers, assisting lawyers or judges with their real cases. Clinics are courses in which students do the work of lawyers in real cases, with the close guidance and supervision of faculty members. All of these experiential learning courses are eligible to count toward fulfillment of the six-credit experiential requirement.  In addition, some of these courses may be used to satisfy the writing requirement (see above), but students may not use the same course to satisfy both requirements.

The upper-level writing courses give students additional, and practice-minded, training in the fundamental skills of good writing: clarity, precision, and good organization.  All of these courses may be used to satisfy the upper-level writing requirement (see above).

New York Law School offers three skills competition team programs:  the Trial Competition Team, the Moot Court Team and the Dispute Resolution Team. In order to join a team, students must participate in an intra-mural competition, each of which is organized by students with the close involvement of faculty advisors. Students who are accepted to a team and join can get academic credit for their participation, but these credits do not count toward fulfillment of the experiential learning requirement.  Some students may be able to fulfill the writing requirement through their participation in Moot Court.

NYLS also offers two certificate programs, in which students may take a series of courses in a particular skills area, and ultimately achieve a certificate in that area, which is noted on their transcripts:

The Advocacy Program provides students interested in litigation the opportunity to earn an Advocacy Certificate in Civil, Criminal or Appellate Advocacy. This program offers guidance about how to combine skills courses with writing and doctrinal courses to develop proficiency in an area of litigation.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Skills Program provides a sequenced approach to learning practical skills in the field of conflict avoidance, management and resolution. Students take introductory courses in each of three central alternative dispute resolution processes – negotiation, mediation and arbitration – as well as additional electives, and can earn a Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution.

How should I decide which clinical and experiential courses to take?

It is important to understand that experiential courses provide opportunities for students to achieve competence in skills that are relevant to any area of practice.  These transferable skills include, among many others:

  • How to speak and write persuasively
  • How to ask effective questions
  • How to think strategically about legal matters
  • How to reflect on and learn from experience

Beyond the learning goals that are common to all experiential courses, there are several factors to consider in choosing which courses to take.  If you are a 1L, you should think about building a portfolio of courses over the next two or three years.  You might think about a subject matter that particularly interests you. You may wanttoexplore several potentialpracticeareas,ortoworkdeeply injustone. Youmay want tochooseclinical andexperientialcoursesthatcomplementthedoctrinal classes youaretaking- skillscoursesanddoctrinalones canenhanceandbuildoneachother. You can also choose courses based on the skills they teach.  There may be particular skills that you would like to improve upon, or others that will be most relevant to the area of practice you hope to pursue.

Time Commitment: Most experiential courses make significant and somewhat inflexible demands on your time. In clinics, externships and field placements, you have responsibilities to your clients, supervisors and colleagues for case work. In both clinics and simulation courses, you will likely do multiple, carefully scheduled simulation or written exercises throughout the semester, often involving team participation.  Therefore, the demands of these courses must be satisfied each and every weekthroughout the term.  Whichever of these courses you choose to take, you need to be sure that you build enough flexibility in your schedule to accommodate those demands. This is particularly true for part-time students who have significant or inflexible demands on their time outside law school. In addition, note that, because of the time commitments and intensity of the demands throughout the semester, taking two experiential courses (not counting writing courses) in the same semester is strongly discouraged. Students can consult with faculty teaching the courses if they have questions about the out-of-class time demands.

Finally, be aware that some of the clinics and experiential courses have co-requisites or pre-requisites.  Check each course description for requirements.

How do I apply to clinical and experiential courses and programs?

All Clinics, Field Placements, the Pro Bono Scholars Program, and Advocacy of Criminal Cases and Street Law (simulation courses) require an application. Starting on March 24, you can access the application by clicking on “Application” on the attached spreadsheet, or access the application link on the Portal under Student Resources>Academic Affairs>Office of Clinical and Experiential Learning.

If you are interested in an Externship, go to the Portal and click on the Career Resources tab, Externships. There you can find Instructions on the application process for externships and deadlines. You may also propose a placement. For more information log on to the NYLS Portal > Career Resources > Externships or send your question to the program’s email (CareerServices@nyls.edu) or call 212.431.2345.

Most Simulation Courses do not require an application.  You may register for them during the regular registration period.  Two simulation courses, however–Street Law and Advocacy of Criminal Cases–do require an application in order to register.  The application link will be posted on the Portal on March 24, at 4:00PM. You can also access the link by clicking on “Application” on the attached spreadsheet.

Upper Level Writing Courses do not require an application.  You may register for them during the regular registration period.

Competition Teams The Moot Court Association, the Trial Competition Team and the Dispute Resolution Team all require participation in an intra-mural competition. Each have their own application process. For details on teams of interest, you should check with the team faculty advisors. For more information go to Competition Teams .

Certificate Programs in Advocacy and Alternative Dispute Resolution Skills.  To earn a certificate in these areas, you must take a minimum number of courses from a menu of courses relating to the area. If you are interested in the Advocacy Program, which Professor Mariana Hogan directs, or the Alternative Dispute Resolution Skills Program, which Adjunct Professor Peter Phillips directs, you should contact those professors to learn how to participate. For more information go to Certificate Programs.

Is registration for these courses binding?

Yes: Registration for most of the experiential courses is binding.  A binding registration course (BRC) designation means that you have a shorter time than usual to change your mind about staying in a course for which you have registered. We do this because space in all experiential courses is limited, and the course structures require arrangements for roleplay exercises and real casework based on the exact number of registered students, made far ahead of the beginning of the semester.

If you are accepted into a BRC course and register for it, you may not drop the course after June 11 (for fall and year-long courses) or September 10 (for spring courses). After that date, you must seek permission of both the course professor and the Director of Clinical and Experiential Learning to drop the course, and permission is granted only if there is an extraordinary or unforeseen circumstance that you could not have anticipated by the deadline. To obtain permission, you must fill out the Permission to Drop-Binding Registration Course Form. Dropping a BRC may result in a “WD” or “F” on your transcript, depending on the time and circumstances of the withdrawal. For questions regarding BRCs email ocel@nyls.edu.

What does a BRC designation mean for you now? It means that you should choose your experiential curriculum carefully, knowing that even if your plans change, you may not be able to drop a course as the semester approaches.  Remember, as explained above, these courses all teach professional practice skills that will be useful in any area of practice, so committing to one particular course does not mean that you are committed to specializing in a specific area.

Who can enroll in Clinics, Externships and other Field Placement Courses?

Full-Time Day Students are eligible to enroll in externships in the summer following their first year.  Full-time students are eligible to enroll in clinics and field placements beginning in the fall semester of their second year, provided they have successfully completed the fall and spring semesters in their first year with a minimum of 30 credits.

Part-Time Evening Students are eligible to enroll in clinics, field placements and externships beginning in the spring semester of their second year, provided they have successfully completed the fall and spring semesters of their first year and the fall semester of their second year with a minimum of 30 credits.

In deciding which experiential courses would be appropriate for them, all students, but especially part-time students, should consider their individual schedules for the semester or year, including work and family commitments, schedules for team competitions, and any other significant commitments.  Some clinics, externships and field placements require extensive appearances in court or administrative agencies, or otherwise have significant daytime obligations. Part-time evening students who have significant or inflexible obligations during the regular work week may not be able to complete the requirements of those courses. Before accepting a spot, students with such time demands should consult with the professor about the particular time requirements and the feasibility of completing them within the constraints of their schedule.

Admission Criteria.  Admission to each clinic and field placement course is in the discretion of the professor teaching the course. Professors consider a variety of factors including:  students’ background, experience and interest in the particular area of law in which the clinic is engaged; their career objectives; their completion of all prerequisites and plans for taking recommended co-requisites; their grades earned in particular courses and overall GPA; and the availability of sufficient time to meaningfully participate in all aspects of the course.  Professors may also take into account a student’s graduation date and whether the student has already had an opportunity to take a clinic or field placement course.  If you have questions about the process, you can contact your academic adviser