top-clinical-training-law-school-programs

Top 10 Law Schools for Clinical Training

An influential part of law school for many students is getting hands-on practical experience in clinical training. In most law school clinics, students provide legal assistance pro bono under the direction of faculty members. You’ll get to apply what you learn in the classroom, advising and counseling real clients as a member of a professional legal team. 

Here are the top law schools for clinical training (as ranked by U.S. News and World Report), and the median LSAT scores of recently accepted students. This is technically a Top 10 list, but because of many ties this year, 12 schools made it on.

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7. (tie) Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University School of Law was founded in 1867, and its Clinical Education Program was launched in 1973. The program guarantees participation for all interested students in one of its 18 law clinics or externships, and 80% of students participate, with more than one-third participating in two or more. WashULaw’s clinics include the First Amendment Clinic, Prosecution Clinic, Immigration Clinic, and Appellate Clinic, where students get to brief and argue cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth and Eighth Circuits.

Students accepted to WashULaw in the Class of 2021 had a median LSAT score of 168 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.81.

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7. (tie) University of Maryland (Carey)

The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law is the second-oldest law school in the United States, established in 1816. Practice-based courses are integrated throughout the curriculum, and the school’s small class sizes and 4.3:1 student-faculty ratio ensure plenty of one-on-one attention from professors. Each year, Maryland Law offers 17 to 20 clinics across many areas of law. Students work under the direction of faculty to provide nearly 75,000 hours of free legal services to the Baltimore community annually. Recent student work in the Clinical Law Program includes arguing in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, obtaining asylum for clients, enforcing ADA protections through federal civil litigation, and patent work for Maryland entrepreneurs. 

Incoming students to Maryland Law in 2018 had a median LSAT score of 158 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.56.

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7. (tie) University of Denver (Sturm)

The Sturm College of Law opened the nation’s first law school legal aid clinic in 1904. Currently, the school has six law clinics and houses three more: the Low Income Tax Payer Clinic, the Veterans Advocacy Project, and the Tribal Wills Project, in which students visit tribes and draft wills for members. Denver Law allows its students to complete their JD curriculum either full-time or part-time, running one of the oldest part-time law school programs in the country. Part-time students can pursue their law degree on the weekends while balancing building a family or parallel career. 

The fall 2019 entering class had a median LSAT score of 159 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.49.

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7. (tie) University of California—Irvine

UCI Law is the newest school on the list, having been established in 2007. Its reputation has been built quickly, and it’s the youngest school in the top 25 U.S. law schools, according to U.S. News and World Report. Experiential learning starts early at UCI Law—students interview actual clients in their first-year Lawyering Skills class. Clinical education is a requirement for graduation, and all students complete at least one semester of clinical work in one of the school’s eight in-house clinics. Students act as the primary legal representative for their clients in collaboration with faculty. 

The UCI Law Class of 2021 had a median LSAT score of 163 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.57.

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7. (tie) University of California—Berkeley

Berkeley Law has a self-proclaimed “pro bono culture.” In addition to its six faculty-led clinics, the school has 32 Student-Initiated Legal Services Projects that give students client experience beginning in their first year. Berkeley Law’s Clinical Programs include a Death Penalty Clinic, an Environmental Law Clinic, an International Human Rights Law Clinic, and the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic. Personal growth is valued over competition—the school does not rank or grade students, favoring a high honors/honors/pass/fail grading model, instead. 

Students in the Class of 2022 had a median LSAT score of 168 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.81. 

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7. (tie) University of Stanford

The Mills Legal Clinic at Stanford Law School was founded in 2007, but has quickly grown to be one of the nation’s top programs. Uniquely, students engage in their clinical work full-time, free of other class responsibilities and assignments. Operating as “student attorneys” certified by the California State Bar, students get a taste of what their professional life might look like, handling all day-to-day responsibilities under the supervision of faculty and honing their lawyering skills. 75% of recent graduates have participated in at least one of SLS’s 11 clinics. 

Students recently accepted to Stanford Law had a median LSAT score of 171 and an undergraduate GPA of 3.93.

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6. University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

Michigan Law’s experiential education program started in 1969, and current students begin their practical training from the start of law school. 1Ls take a variety of classes under the instruction of clinical professors as part of the Legal Practice Program, learning the skills necessary for practicing law. First-years also work directly with clients in the Unemployment Insurance Clinic. Every student that is interested is guaranteed participation in at least one of Michigan Law’s 16 upper-level clinics, though many students opt to take more. 

For Michigan Law’s Class of 2022, the median LSAT score was 169 and the median undergraduate GPA was 3.81.

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5. New York University

NYU Law’s Jacob D. Fuchsberg Clinical Law Center has 44 clinics to give students real-world experience across a wide range of areas of law. Uniquely, 15 full-time clinical faculty are tenured or tenure track professors at NYU, so the are solely dedicated to research and educating students. The majority of the school’s clinics are semester-long, but year-long clinics include the Juvenile Defender Clinic, where students represent clients in New York Family Court, and the Federal Defender Clinic, in which students represent indigent clients through all stages of the criminal process in the Eastern District of New York. 

The NYU Law fall 2018 entering class had a median LSAT score of 170 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.8.

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3. (tie) Yale University

The clinical experience at Yale Law School starts earlier than at most other schools—1Ls can begin taking clinics and appearing in court in the spring. About 90% of students take at least one of the nearly 30 clinics at the school. Yale Law clinics include the Veterans Legal Services Clinic, the Reproductive Rights and Justice Project, the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, and the Beshar/Lehner Gender Violence Clinic. 

The Yale Law Class of 2022 had a median LSAT score of 173 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.93.

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3. (tie) CUNY

The City University of New York School of Law is a public interest law school located in Queens. With nearly half of its students self-identifying as people of color, CUNY Law is one of the most racially diverse law schools in the country. The curriculum at the school integrates lawyering skills and practical experience with traditional law courses throughout the three years. As a leader in the experiential education of law professionals, the school uniquely partners with community stakeholders to make sure the voices of the individuals represented by the 11 clinics are integral to their operation. According to CUNY Law, “grassroots organizing and movement lawyering will always be at the core of [their] program.” 

Accepted students entering in fall 2018 had a median LSAT score of 153 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.27.

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2. American University

American University Washington College of Law founded its Clinical Program in 1972. Today, AUWCL students can get practical training at one of the school’s 10 in-house clinics, working with real clients from low-income and underrepresented groups. Among the clinics is D.C. Law Students in Court, in which students make over 1000 court appearances annually, representing clients in D.C. Superior Court. 

In 2018, the AUWCL entering class had a median LSAT score of 158 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.45. For its part-time evening program, students had a median LSAT score of 159 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.17.

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1. Georgetown University

Georgetown is rooted in the Jesuit tradition, and the Georgetown Law education reflects the Jesuit values of social justice and service. The school operates the largest in-house clinical program in the U.S., operating 17 different clinics. Students represent real clients and hold primary responsibility for all aspects of their cases, working 25-35 hours a week on their clinical tasks under the supervision of clinical faculty. Georgetown Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic has had four cases reach the United States Supreme Court.

The Georgetown Law Class of 2020 had a median LSAT score of 167 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.79.

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