Clinical programs are a hallmark of experiential education. By developing students’ professional skills in real world settings and teaching the substantive, procedural, tactical, and ethical issues presented by a particular area of practice, clinics serve as an essential bridge between life before and after graduation from law school.
Unlike traditional law courses, clinical programs allow students to work with real clients under the supervision of experienced practitioner-supervisors. Clinic students work up case files, investigate facts, interview witnesses, counsel clients, negotiate deals, mediate disputes, and try actual cases in front of real judges. Through this experience, clinical legal education prepares students to become competent and ethical practitioners.
Although Temple offers many opportunities for students to sharpen their lawyering skills, the deeper value of clinical education is characterized by students’ enhanced understanding of the legal process and the role they will play as legal professionals.
What Sets Temple’s Clinical Program Apart
Temple has offered clinical opportunities to its students since the Temple Legal Aid Office opened in 1953. Today, in addition to three courses through the Legal Aid Office, Temple’s popular clinical program includes 28 clinical courses, featuring opportunities both in-house and outside of the law school. Approximately 300 clinical placements are available to J.D. students who have completed the appropriate prerequisites. The Director of Experiential Programs is responsible for the administration and supervision of all clinical programs and works closely with students to select a clinical experience that’s right for them.
Temple’s clinical opportunities benefit from the law school’s metropolitan location in Philadelphia. Temple’s close proximity to state and federal courts, administrative agencies, and a sophisticated bar association provides clinical students many opportunities for learning and practicing under the guidance of experienced mentors.
Every clinician in the clinical program is an experienced and expert legal practitioner. The vast majority of our clinical instructors have been involved in clinical teaching at Temple Law for many years and the most senior have over twenty years of clinical teaching experience.
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Temple two consecutive grants to develop and enhance clinical legal education and in 1993 the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Professionalism presented the law school with the E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award in recognition of outstanding achievement. Temple’s Department of Clinical Legal Education was also honored for excellence by the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1989.
Grading, Attendance and Assignments
Most, but not all, clinical courses are graded on a pass/fail basis. Students should refer to individual course descriptions for exceptions.
Since the clinical experience is premised on participation, students only benefit when they are there to perform. Attendance is mandatory. If an emergency arises which requires an absence or altered schedule, the student must contact his or her supervising attorney as soon as possible and make up any missed time.
The Clinical and Experiential Learning Program Office monitors the quality of all clinical courses and each student’s individual experience. Monitoring is done through a variety of means including review of individual journal entries. Most clinical students are required to submit biweekly journals. These journals are designed to encourage students to reflect upon their clinical work and learn from their experiences. Journals are integral to the success of the program and failure to submit them in a complete and timely manner will impact a student’s grade.