By Ms. JD Editor • May 13, 2011•Curriculum and Classroom Dynamics
“Hands-on learning (skills courses, judicial internships, clinics, etc.) are the most effective preparation for law practice." - NALP survey
NALP, the association of legal career professionals, recently published their 2010 Survey of Law School Experiential Learning Opportunities and Benefits. The survey of over 900 associates reports on what types of experiential learning opportunities the associates took part in during law school as well as how those learning opportunities benefited them in their legal practice.
In a time when many law firms are calling for law school graduates with practical skills, the survey provides useful data on how student can get the most out of their legal education. Not surprisingly, most associates who participated in legal clinics and externships/field placements found the experiences "very useful." One survey participant remarked, “My clinical experience was by far the most important thing I did in law school to prepare me to practice. I think that all law students should be required to spend at least one semester in a clinical program.”
Interestingly, associates found practical skills courses and pro bono work less valuable. While practice skills courses vary from law school to law school, only 35% of associates said the practice skills classes they took were "very useful" in practice. This data suggests that the kinds of hands on work offered in clinic and externships may actually be more useful to future associates than classes like trial advocacy.
The full report from the 2010 Survey of Law School Experiential Learning Opportunities and Benefits is available here.