Opportunities and Contributions
Stanford’s legal clinics reflect the many settings in which our graduates will practice, ranging from litigation to transactional law to policy leadership, in both domestic and international settings. The clinics also prepare students for a responsibility Stanford believes that every lawyer should assume—to spend at least some of his or her time using the privilege to practice law in the service of community and society.
A pioneer in clinical education in the early 1970s, Stanford Law today offers students a wide variety of opportunities to obtain hands-on legal experience. At present, Stanford offers 10 clinical programs. Clinics are well-staffed to support a robust student experience; our goal is to provide an executive director, an experienced lecturer, and a teaching fellow for each clinic.
Stanford’s legal clinics range from high-impact litigation to direct-services representation, from broad-based policy initiatives to close work with beleaguered individuals. We seek to expose students to the full array of services lawyers provide and the whole range of work they may do.
For example, our Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, the first and most active of its kind, affords students the opportunity to become deeply involved in the nation’s most cutting-edge litigation. Just as significantly, students in our Community Law Clinic are able to represent indigent community residents on issues vital to the well-being of these clients and their families—such as the right to wages for their work or to habitable and affordable housing. Students in other clinics may help change broad-based environmental or educational practices, or help learning-disabled children who have been denied special education benefits.
Whether making legal history or making the law real for an indigent family, Mills Legal Clinic students are developing skills they will use in practice— learning to interview and counsel clients, prepare witnesses, write legal briefs, deliver oral arguments, research and plan case strategy, and more. All of these are skills best learned by serving actual clients on real cases.
Clinics are also an important part of Stanford Law’s own commitment to social responsibility. Through clinic faculty and students, we provide legal services to people who would not otherwise have access to legal representation, and we tackle precedent-setting cases with profound impact on policy and individuals’ well-being. We give students a palpable sense of why lawyers matter and how much good they can do, cultivating values they take with them into their professional lives.