Experiential Education

Case Western Reserve University has been committed to Experiential Education since the establishment of its clinical program over 45 years ago. The development of our curriculum is premised on the value of “real” lawyering experiences throughout the three years of law school as necessary preparation for practice and as a means for learning substantive law.

Case Western Reserve’s strong externship program has expanded in scope over the past few years. Students can enroll in externships beginning in the summer after their first year. Our externships give students the chance to engage in practice in the specialty of their choice. Sites include in-house counsel, litigation and policy opportunities in Cleveland and nationally, as well as judicial externships. Faculty liaisons maintain close contact with on-site supervisors to insure that our students’ work-loads include a range of assignments putting them in the role of lawyer and that they are receiving timely evaluation and feedback.

In addition, 20 or more students participate in international externships including international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and Lebanon; the International Criminal Court; Human Rights Watch and law firms in China, Vietnam and India.

Another bridge between the classroom and practice is offered in our “Labs” which give students advanced research and writing experience in the context of real cases. In the labs our students work on discrete legal issues presented to our faculty by courts and practitioners seeking our assistance on current cases. Students research and discuss the issues presented and prepare memoranda or briefs for use by referring lawyers or entities.

The Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic Center currently gives 80 students a year the opportunity to engage in practice under faculty supervision. Eight full-time faculty teach in civil litigation, criminal justice, community development, health, and intellectual property clinics with clients who could not otherwise afford access to representation.

Our curriculum requires a 3rd year, full-time, full-semester capstone experience. Every student will be required to engage in full-time, faculty supervised practice. This includes full engagement in developing relationships with clients, problem identification, fact investigation and legal research, problem solving and decision making. As appropriate for each setting, students will act as “first chair” lawyers. They will be expected to make presentations to boards of directors or community groups, conduct depositions, argue pre-trial motions, pick juries and try cases; brief and argue cases on appeal.
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