Experiential education is a central component of the Berkeley Law experience.
Through a rich program of offerings — simulated lawyering skills courses, clinics, pro bono projects, field placements, and more — students can participate in hands-on learning opportunities starting their very first semester at Berkeley Law.
Learning through practical application is at the cutting-edge of legal education. We believe that connecting the dots between the theories of the classroom and real-life lawyering make Berkeley Law graduates particularly ready for practice in whatever area they pursue. Every interested J.D. student can have a direct-client experience through a clinic, a practicum, or a field placement.
Our clinics are directed by full-time faculty members who are highly regarded experts in their fields. Classroom seminars give students the necessary foundation in relevant law and practice, while hands-on casework for clients builds critical lawyering skills.
Death Penalty Clinic offers students a rich opportunity for meaningful training; seeks justice for death-row inmates by providing them with top representation; and exposes problems endemic to the administration of capital punishment.
Environmental Law Clinic bolsters our environmental law program by providing critical experience to students and creating synergies with other parts of the law school and campus.
International Human Rights Law Clinic designs and implements creative solutions to advance the global struggle to protect human rights. Students work on individual cases and broad issues in California and globally.
The New Business Community Law Clinic connects students with business start-ups and low-income entrepreneurs who cannot afford legal consultation, offering students the chance to develop skills in transactional law.
Policy Advocacy Clinic provides teams of law and public policy students who pursue innovative and systemic strategies on behalf of underrepresented individuals and groups to advance social justice, equity, and inclusion.
Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic gives students an unparalleled opportunity to tackle the complexities of technology-related law. It helps represent individuals, nonprofits, and consumer groups that could not otherwise obtain counsel.
East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), the community-based component of our Clinical Programs, provides students with a unique opportunity to learn about the responsibilities of practicing law while reflecting on the lawyer’s role and the lawyering process. There are eight clinical practice groups.
The student-run Board of Advocates oversees Berkeley Law’s skills competitions. Our teams enjoy tremendous success, winning at regional and national events and consistently out-performing other top law schools. More than 60 students participate annually in competitions in three main areas: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Trial Advocacy, and Appellate Advocacy. They receive extensive coaching from professors, alumni litigators, and fellow students. The Board also emphasizes advocacy training through internal moot court, negotiations, and business law competitions. Students can try out beginning in their first year.
Practicums are courses that combine a focus on a particular subject area with hands-on work in the same area. Students are usually supervised by Berkeley Law faculty, external practitioners, or a combination thereof.
Berkeley Law’s practicums include:
Field Placement Program
Second- and third-year students can gain experience, academic credit, and key connections in our Field Placement Program. They help supervising lawyers in public interest organizations and government agencies, or serve as judicial externs.
There are five field placement programs/courses:
Civil Field Placements
Bay Area placements civil rights, consumer protection, employment, environmental, health, housing, poverty, and women’s rights.
Part-time or full-time work for local, federal, or state judges, and in chambers.
Criminal Field Placements
Criminal legal work for nonprofits, district attorney offices, public defender offices, and related area organizations
Away Field Placements
Students receive up to 10 units of academic credit for legal work with approved nonprofits and government agencies across the country and around the world.
UCDC Law Program
A Washington, D.C. externship that connects students with all three federal government branches, regulatory agencies, and advocacy nonprofits.
Pro Bono Program
Some schools have a pro bono requirement. Berkeley Law has a pro bono culture. Our 32 Student-Initiated Legal Services Projects allow you to gain client experience beginning with your first year. Student project leaders identify a legal need, recruit supervising attorneys, and enlist classmates to bring services to underserved communities. Run by upperclassmen and staffed mainly by first-year students, these initiatives confront issues such as human trafficking, workers’ rights, refugee assistance, and juvenile justice. Students may also venture outside the Bay Area to do pro bono through our Berkeley Law Alternative Service Trips (BLAST). Through BLAST students use their Spring Break to engage with a community and provide intensive pro bono services. Time spent working in SLPS or BLAST may also be used to meet the minimum 25 hours required for summer fellowships.
Lawyering Skills Courses
Our Professional Skills Program offers a wide range of pragmatic courses explicitly designed to introduce you to the theory and practice of lawyering. These classes are taught through simulations and case files, and they always include experiential learning techniques.
- Legal Research and Writing
- Legal Drafting
- Legal Problem Solving
- Legislative Drafting and Lobbying
- Other Legal Practice