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Choosing a Law School with an In-House Law Firm

You didn’t learn to drive by only reading the car’s owner’s manual. So why would you want to learn to practice the law by only reading casebooks?

Experiential learning is a buzzword in legal education these days. Pick up any law school viewbook and you’re sure to see a list of ways they provide students with “hands-on” learning opportunities–clinics, externships and in-house law firms.

Wait–in house law firms?

It’s true: Law schools across the country are opening on-campus, in-house firms that are almost entirely operated by students and recent graduates.

Like clinical programs, which have been around since the 1970s, in-house law firms give students opportunities to work with real clients on real cases. But unlike clinics, which only allow students to work on one or two cases in one or two areas of law during their law school tenure, in-house law firms provide opportunities for students (and recent graduates) to work on dozens of cases in a variety of areas.

The in-house law firms operate as extensions of their college’s educational programs. Often they partner with outside legal-aid organizations to find clients with legal issues but not a lot of money to pay for counsel. The students and recent graduates work as actual attorneys–managing everything from client recruitment and intake to interviewing and IT issues to arguing cases in court, before judges and juries.

Many schools make the law-firm opportunities available to students who don’t have jobs lined up when they graduate as well as for those who are interested in starting their own solo practices.

Participants have praised the in-house law firms as a great way to expand on the experience they gained through clinics–a place where they can learn through trial and, yes, sometimes error. But hey, every new lawyer is bound to make a mistake, so why not make it under the supervision of highly trained and highly skilled law professors who might be able to intervene before the mistake becomes serious?


About the Author

Sumita Dalal is the Founder and CEO of FindMyLawTutor, the largest and most trusted website and online portal that connects law students with law tutors for success in law school. Whether preparing for the LSAT, are currently a law student or are studying for the bar exam, FindMyLawTutor makes finding a law tutor fast and easy.

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