Clinical Programs - Cornell Law School

Message from the Director

2016 Blume
John H. Blume Director of Clinical, Advocacy and Skills Programs; Director, Cornell Death Project; Professor of Law

At Cornell Law School, our students are provided with both a strong doctrinal program and a rigorous and varied set of clinical, advocacy and skills courses.  For many of our students, these courses provide the most rewarding and self-revelatory experiences of the law school experience.  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 a student’s professional development.

Our commitment to skills education and public service is not only longstanding, but also rich and diverse.  Our clinical program, which began in the 1970’s, 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 ten 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 a farmworker forced to work in unsafe conditions.  They may assist in preparing a federal habeas petition for a death row inmate, an immigration appeal on behalf of a person scheduled to be deported or be part of a defense team representing a mentally ill defendant in Malawi.  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 students have opportunities to 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 experiential learning programs are growing and evolving to meet the needs not only of our students, but also of the diverse local, national and international populations that we serve.  I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Dean Peñalver and our exceptional clinical faculty as we continue our commitment to provide practical skills training to our students and access to justice for our clients.  In these challenging times in legal education, Cornell Law School’s commitment to maintaining  a truly first rate experiential learning program is unwavering. 


John H. Blume
Samuel F. Leibowitz Professor of Trial Techniques
Director of Experiential Learning Programs