At Cornell Law School, our students are provided with both a strong doctrinal program and a rigorous and varied set of clinical and skills courses. For many of our students, clinical, advocacy, and skills courses provide the most rewarding and self-revelatory experiences of law school. Cornell Law has long introduced students to the sort of experiential learning that, especially when it occurs in real-life settings, constitutes the core of skills education.
Our commitment to skills education and public service is not only longstanding, but also rich and diverse. Our clinical program, which began in the 1970s, now includes a broad array of clinical experiences for students and also provides needed legal services to underserved populations locally, nationally and internationally. Our current programs, described in detail in this brochure, include five clinics taught by full-time members of the faculty, additional clinics supervised by experienced practitioners serving as adjunct professors, and a number of intensive externships and field placements.
In these varied settings, students not only attempt to solve individual clients’ legal problems but also address larger systemic issues and the need for legal reform. For example, students may find themselves representing a discharged worker in a labor arbitration, a criminal defendant charged with a felony, a senior citizen who fell victim to a fraudulent investment and lost her retirement funds, or an unemployed worker wrongfully denied benefits. They may assist in preparing a state post-conviction challenge on behalf of a wrongfully convicted person or a federal habeas petition for a death row inmate. They may provide support to organizations protecting women from acid violence in Southeast Asia. Other opportunities include working at the local district attorney’s or U.S. Attorney’s office or in state and local government. Regardless of whether they go on to careers in public interest law or in the private sector, our clinic students gain practical legal skills beyond the scope of most traditional law school classes, and they also begin to hone a sense of legal judgment and ethical lawyering that truly makes a “lawyer in the best sense.”
Our clinical, advocacy, and skills programs are growing and evolving to meet the needs not only of our students but also of the populations we serve. In January 2011, Dean Schwab created the position of Director of Clinical, Advocacy, and Skills Programs to facilitate the growth and direction of our experiential learning offerings. I am excited to be the first Director, as ours is a program on the rise. Evidence of that growth is the addition of Susan Hazeldean to our faculty as an Assistant Clinical Professor of Law. Susan joins an already strong, experienced, and dedicated core of clinical professors who are committed to making our clinical program one of the best in the country.
John H. Blume
Director of Clinical, Advocacy and Skills Programs;
Director, Cornell Death Project; Professor of Law