Mitchell Hamline students get experience with real clients with real legal problems starting in their first year of law school. The levels of responsibility, time investment, and specialization increase as they progress through their studies. Coursework includes skills training, simulations, and role-playing exercises allowing students to get feedback on your developing legal skills. Experiential learning programs include:
Clinics – Under the direct supervision of professors, students work in clinics to represent low-income clients. Clinic students are given primary responsibility for the representation or other lawyering experience (such as mediating cases). In addition to their casework, they meet weekly in a classroom component designed to provide them with the knowledge and skills needed to act in in the role as a lawyer. Most clinics require that students be eligible for certification under the student practice rule.
Externships – Students work across a range of practice areas and legal settings. Students in externships are primarily located in field placements approved by the law school and supervised both by Mitchell Hamline faculty and by attorneys in the field.
Residencies – Students in their final year can gain practical experience through immersive, semester-long work opportunities inside of law firms, businesses, state and county agencies, courthouses, and other organizations. Residency students are expected to devote 30-40 hours per week at their placement site and to enroll in a companion classroom component or other academic component supervised by a Mitchell Hamline faculty member.
Simulation Courses – Legal practicum and advanced simulation courses immerse students in the areas of general practice and advocacy through innovative hands-on learning exercises pioneered by Mitchell faculty and staff. To provide a foundation for advocacy and problem-solving in litigation and transactional contexts, all students are required to take the Advocacy course and either Negotiation or Transactions & Settlements.
Legal Writing – Mitchell Hamline’s first year Legal Writing program is a foundational offering, required for all first-year students, intended to enable them to master fundamental client representations skills. Students meet in small groups to practice interviewing and counseling clients, writing memos and letters, researching the law, negotiating contracts and settlements, reasoning about a client’s situation in light of the law, settling cases, and arguing motions.
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. Mitchell Hamline students who volunteer more than 50 hours prior to graduation will receive a notation on their transcript and a certificate. Students who volunteer 150+ hours will also receive golden honor cords at Commencement. Students may log hours from volunteer opportunities available through the Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF) or through other approved sources.