We’ve been doing experiential learning longer and better than anybody else
It’s fashionable these days for law schools to talk about their commitment to experiential learning. At Mitchell Hamline, it’s at the core of our approach to legal education. It pervades our curriculum, reaching all students.
Our students were among the first in the nation to represent real clients with real legal problems through a partnership we established with a local charity in St. Paul in 1922. A dozen years later, we became the only U.S. law school to offer a four-year course in court practice. Then came a seminar on legal writing and legal drafting in the late 1950s.
The foundation of the school’s current experiential education program came in 1973, with the creation of one of the nation’s first clinical programs.
Students can start volunteering right away with the Minnesota Justice Foundation and have numerous opportunities for interaction with clients in later years through externships, clinics, and semester placements.
Minnesota Justice Foundation
The Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF) is committed to promoting social justice and improving legal services for those who have been under-represented by the legal profession. Through MJF, students–starting in their first year–have the opportunity to work with lawyers in a variety of legal advice settings or to complete research projects for lawyers who have taken clients and cases on a pro-bono basis.
Students work across a range of practice areas and legal settings. They work with public defenders to preserve the rights of the accused, with state and county agencies to shape public policy and protect society’s most vulnerable, with federal judges to ensure the judicial system is just, and with numerous other partners. Students in externships are supervised both by Mitchell Hamline faculty and by attorneys and judges in the field.
Under the supervision of professors, students work in 13 clinics with clients who are mothers, fathers, immigrants, leaders of nonprofit organizations, and small businesses. Some clients are elderly. Some are unemployed. Some are accused of crimes. Some want to make the world a better place. All are real people with real legal problems, and our students drive their representation. They gain valuable real-world experience and make a difference in our community by performing legal work for their clients.
At Mitchell Hamline, we offer a variety of opportunities for students in their third or fourth years to secure full-time, on-site placements working under the supervision of practicing attorneys. It’s a key part of our bridge-to-practice programming, offering experienced students a close-up look at the world of legal work.