Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Best Law Schools For Practical Training

National JuristBest Schools for Practical Training, Nat'l Jurist, p. 22, Spring 2016:

Annually, The National Jurist honors those schools that go above and beyond in preparing law students for the real world in our ranking of Best Law Schools for Practical Training. We look at a number of factors, including which schools have the greatest percentage of students in clinics, externships and simulation courses. We also look at the most robust moot court options.  [Methodology (number of positions filled/number of 2Ls & 3Ls):  Clinics (38%), Externships (24%), Simulations (21%), Additional Offerings (0%), Interschool Competitions (5%).]

Jeffrey Baker witnesses the power of practical training on a daily basis. He's the director of clinical education at Pepperdine University School of Law, which finished 10th on our list, with an A+. "Students are hungry for it," he said.

Top 25

The drop in law school enrollment has had one silver lining, he said. The students coming to law school today are "coming very deliberately," he said. They are not coming because it's a fallback plan or because they're seeking a ticket to a middle-class lifestyle, he said. They want to be lawyers.

So students are looking for schools that provide them opportunities to hone their craft. Pepperdine University is adopting new requirements for students. Starting with the Class of 2017, students must complete 15 units of experiential learning and 50 hours of pro bono service.

Baker has heard no complaints from students about practical training demands. Yet there are some students who are seeking a law career for financial reward — the field can still provide substantial earnings to top performers, after all — but even they can gain benefit from doing such work, Baker said. "We are public servants," he said.

Practical training has a number of benefits, he said. For one, people in need of legal services receive them via clinics. Second, legal aid and government agencies perform better and more efficiently, thanks to help they receive from students who take part in externships. And thirdly, students build public service ethics that hopefully will continue throughout their careers, regardless of what field they enter.

Baker has been amazed at how well students work in these settings. "They put so much heart into it," he said.

Like others overseeing clinics, he sees students transform as well. "There's a shift. They realize they are working for a client and not their GPA," he said. "They realize someone's life is in their hands. I bear witness to that all the time."

The Best Law Schools For Practical Training (2015)

Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink



I know, right? A Northeastern Law education is so valuable and practical that, per their ABA disclosures, the school managed to land 90 of 182 Class of 2011 graduates in full-time, long-term, license-required jobs at any salary within ten months of graduation. That’s almost 50%!! And 93 of 215 in 2012, almost 45%!! (I believe they were still claiming that >40% of their grads got legal jobs just from co-op at that point). And 100 out of 218 in 2013!! And 115 of 216 in 2014 – they finally cracked 50% placement! Woo-hoo! (all stats per LST). Such amazing stats that they’ve almost lost 50% of their 1L class size since 2010…

The underlying message, of course, is that legal employers don’t give a solitary **** about the practicality of one’s legal education. Pedigree, pedigree, and pedigree: that is the alpha and omega of legal hiring. Law professors, of all people, shouldn’t attempt to pretend otherwise.

Anyways, should we read into your comment that you would recommend attending Northeastern over Harvard or Stanford for law school? I didn’t think so. That one deposition I sat on once in a co-op doesn’t actually make me qualified or financially able to hang a shingle after graduation. Shocker, I know.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Mar 23, 2016 6:43:02 PM

This list is somewhat compromised by the presence of Yale at #3. In my 38 years of practice, I have met only a single Eli who was ready, willing, and able to practice law. But the rest of them . . . "no hire" recommendations.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Mar 23, 2016 9:55:39 AM

Well UNE, it looks like Northeastern is best at something at least. It's even beat out Harvard and Stanford, which not only didn't make the top 25, but don't even appear among the runners up.

Posted by: Lonnie | Mar 23, 2016 9:02:56 AM