Our Pro Bono Collaborative mobilizes Rhode Island law firms, law students and community organizations to provide desperately needed legal assistance for the underserved residents of the state. The unique program includes 10 major law firms, over 20 community-based organizations and several dozen law students.
RWU Law Guarantees Practical Experience
Further expanding its already strong commitment to delivering a rigorous and marketable legal education, RWU Law in 2013 introduced an explicit guarantee that students will get the hands-on training essential to success in today’s market.
While the law school has offered clinical experiences since its early years, the guarantee that every qualified student can participate in at least one clinical experience before graduation makes RWU Law one of the few schools in the country to commit to such a promise.
“What we’re offering is a continuum of opportunities,” says Laurie Barron, the Center’s executive director. “Whether a student wants to forge a career in business law, immigration law, criminal law or anything in between, they can come to us and plan for a structured sequence of legal experiences. Whatever the specialty, we’ll guarantee them a semester in the trenches gaining real-world legal skills.”
“There is really no substitute for learning from experience,” explains Professor Andrew Horwitz, director of RWU Law’s clinical programs. “Real life presents an array of challenges and situations that can never be replicated in a simulated exercise.”
RWU Law, currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, was founded at a time when legal education first began trending toward hands-on training.
“The school built into its initial curriculum a greater attention to skills training than was prevalent at the time,” says Dean David A. Logan. “Since then, the number and type of experiential opportunities have dramatically multiplied. The result is practice-ready graduates who are prepared to give back to their communities and enhance their profession.”
Current students, for example, can choose from:
- clinics focused on criminal defense, immigration, veterans disability benefits and transactional work for start-up businesses;
- dozens of clinical externships, working under the close supervision of lawyers and judges in both state and federal courts, with non-governmental organizations, and even with the offices of corporate counsel;
- RWU Law’s unique Pro Bono Collaborative, which partners with major law firms and community based organizations to provide legal representation to underserved communities; and
- capstone courses that enable third-year law students to integrate doctrinal knowledge learned earlier into real-world settings.
RWU Law is also a member of the Alliance for Experiential Learning in Law, organized by Northeastern School of Law.