Lawyering and Learning in the New World

Student presenter being videotaped in clinicNew York University School of Law's Jacob D. Fuchsberg Clinical Law Center has long been renowned for the quality of its faculty, the variety of its offerings, and the innovative structure of its curriculum. With 14 full-time clinical faculty and 39 clinics in 2018-19, NYU School of Law provides students with unparalleled experiences in working with clients and communities to address urgent problems, influence public policy, and improve the quality of legal problem-solving.

For almost forty years, NYU Law has coordinated its much heralded first-year Lawyering Program, upper-level simulation courses, and fieldwork clinics in a carefully structured pedagogical construct of sequenced, dynamic learning, developed by Professor Anthony G. Amsterdam, one of the most respected public interest lawyers and law professors in the country. The Lawyering Program introduces students to a sophisticated theory of legal problem-solving that Professor Amsterdam, Professor Peggy Davis and other members of the NYU School of Law faculty have been the leaders in creating. Grounded in this model, students in the Law School's upper-level clinics work with clients and communities on intensely demanding cases, projects, and deals.

Each upper-level clinic builds on first-year instruction in its own special way. In order to serve clients and communities as effective practitioners, each clinic requires students to master particular bodies of law (for example, family, civil rights, or death penalty law), to learn specific skills suited to different practice arenas (for example, litigation, policy analysis, and/or outreach skills), and to learn to work under close supervision of faculty (for example, preparing for trials and hearings, writing appellate and post-conviction briefs, and/or planning community education workshops).

NYU School of Law faculty design each and every upper-level clinic with a common aspiration. Clinics advance the instruction to which students already have been exposed, diversify the skill sets available for effective legal problem solving, and deepen an increasingly coherent sense of how lawyers might best do their work. At the same time, clinics exhort students to appreciate just how much they must grow over the course of their careers. Problems evolve, and so must problem solvers if they are to become and remain expert in the practice of law.

A distinctive feature of NYU School of Law's clinics is that the faculty who teach them are tenured or tenure track professors whose sole professional interest is the research and teaching they do at the Law School. The faculty-student ratio in clinical courses is extremely low (typically, a clinical faculty member teaches 8 to 10 students), in order to ensure students the intensive experience that the best of clinics should deliver.