The Curriculum and Coursework

The Mills Legal Clinic program requires students to devote themselves full-time to working as lawyers for an academic quarter, which means representing real clients and tackling real legal challenges. Clinic students do not enroll in any other classes during their clinic quarter: they maintain the work schedule of a practicing lawyer and are certified as student attorneys through the California State Bar. This clinical model has become increasingly valuable for Stanford Law students—three-fourths of recent graduates have participated in at least one clinic.

Regardless of the particular clinic they join, all students delve into lawyerly life with an intensive introductory educational experience most commonly known as “boot camp.” Boot camp, which takes place all day during the first several days of the new quarter, introduces students to the law and the skills they will need to make the most of their clinic experience and prepare them for the everyday realities of practicing law. Boot camp includes lectures on the substantive law practiced in the particular clinic, as well as exercises and tips on the concrete skills—from interviewing to maintaining a file to time management—that student attorneys need to get their practice underway.

After boot camp, each clinic settles into a weekly rhythm that includes classroom sessions as well as each student attorney managing his or her own schedule of client meetings, supervision, court appearances, and the other professional activities of a practicing lawyer. Students also attend “General Rounds,” where they meet with students in other clinics to discuss ethical, strategic, and professional issues that cut across practice areas.

SLS Faculty Perspectives