As members of Morningside Heights Legal Services, Inc., a public interest law firm housed at Columbia Law School, clinic students represent real clients under the close supervision of full-time faculty, full time staff attorneys and fellows. Students become counselors, mediators, litigators, and educators as they learn to apply legal knowledge and other skills to their clients’ diverse concerns.
Clinics focus on a range of public interest legal issues, from the struggles adolescents face as they age out of foster care to the promotion of human rights, the pursuit of economic justice and environmental protection. The work includes impact litigation, direct-services representation, collaborative investigations, policy initiatives, and grassroots advocacy.
Students learn the practical art of lawyering by assuming increasing levels of responsibility for cases and matters involving individuals, communities, and organizations that otherwise might be unable to secure assistance. Additionally, in weekly seminars and simulations, faculty provide personalized feed- back and reinforce skills, such as interviewing and counseling clients, mediating among parties with disparate interests, and drafting legal documents. The recently renovated Law School office provides light-filled, professional space for client consultation and collaboration.
Why take a clinic?
Clinical legal education is an intensive study of law and lawyering through representation and advocacy. Morningside Heights Legal Services, Inc. is a public interest law firm located in recently renovated and beautiful space on the 8th and 9th floor of Jerome Greene Hall. Clinic students are members of that law firm. They work under the close supervision of full time faculty, staff attorneys and fellows with real clients on real problems. Seven units of credit allows students to dive into the lifelong process of becoming capable, thoughtful, responsible and reflective lawyers. You will be encouraged to identify and pursue your own learning goals while providing essential representation to clients and causes. Clinic students develop a wide range of competencies as they take on increasing responsibility for their clients’ cases and projects. Knowing that they have the watchful supervision of experienced lawyers and teachers, they also experience the profound weight of working on important and often personal matters. Students become counselors, mediators, litigators, and educators as they learn to apply legal knowledge and other skills to their clients’ diverse concerns.
Each clinic will award 7 points of experiential credit this fall and each qualifies for both ABA and CLS graduation credit. Year-long clinics award 7 credits in the fall and 5 credits in the spring. Clinic is time-intensive. Students are expected to devote an average of 21 hours per week to clinic work, which includes classroom and class preparation time. Read each course description to learn about minor writing and major writing credit opportunities.
*Reminder: JD students are required to take 6 units of experiential credit to graduate and are allowed 30 experiential credit points.
Statement on Diversity and Inclusion
The Columbia Law School experiential program is dedicated to fostering an educational environment that accepts and fully includes all students. We value diversity and seek to recognize an expansive and evolving understanding of diversity, encompassing considerations of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, age, religious status, socio-economic background, family history of post-baccalaureate opportunity, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status and life experience. We believe that diversity and inclusion in our experiential program enhance the intellectual experience for all and contribute to the betterment of the legal profession.
Equal Access Statement
Columbia University and the Law School’s experiential program are dedicated to facilitating equal access for students with disabilities and to cultivating a culture that is sensitive and responsive to the needs of students. To request an accommodation for a disability during participation in a law school clinic, students are welcome to reach out to the University’s Office of Disability Services, to the law school’s Academic Counselors in Student Services (for instance, Joel Kosman), or to their clinic or externship professors directly. (Students may decide whether or not to inform their professors of any accommodations, as they prefer.)
Clinics Offered Fall 2020*
- Community Advocacy Lab
- Entrepreneurship and Community Development
- Environmental Law
- Human Rights
- Immigrants’ Rights
- Lawyering in the Digital Age
- Experiential Application Overview: TBD
- Open Enrollment: March 20, – May 3, 2020 at 12:00pm.
- Application Deadline: May 3, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.
- Acceptance Offers: TBA
- Acceptance Confirmation: TBA