Clinical Programs and Externship Courses
Clinical programs and field placements 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, these programs serve as an essential bridge between life before and after graduation from law school.
Unlike traditional law courses, experiential programs allow students to work with real clients under the supervision of experienced practitioner-supervisors. 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, experiential 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 experiential education is characterized by students’ enhanced understanding of the legal process and the role they will play as legal professionals.
What Sets Temple’s Experiential Program Apart
Temple has offered experiential opportunities to its students since the Temple Legal Aid Office opened in 1953. Today, in addition to the Legal Aid Office, the Sheller Center for Social Justice, and the Elder Law Project, Temple’s popular program includes external clinics and externship courses. Approximately 300 placements are available to J.D. students who have completed the appropriate prerequisites.
Temple’s 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 students many opportunities for learning and practicing under the guidance of experienced mentors.
Every instructor in the program is an experienced and expert legal practitioner. The vast majority of our instructors have been involved in teaching at Temple Law for many years and the most senior have over twenty years of teaching experience.
Grading, Attendance and Assignments
Most, but not all, clinical and externship courses are graded on a pass/fail basis. Students should refer to individual course descriptions for exceptions.
Since the clinical and externship course 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.