Learning Through Service
Western New England University School of Law clinics and externships place students on the front lines in the struggle for justice. Whether helping a proprietor establish a small business, representing a tenant fighting an eviction proceeding, asserting a consumer’s rights and remedies, or protecting a victim of domestic violence, this firsthand experience will provide you with legal training, personal satisfaction, and professional growth.
The Experience Advantage
Our experiential learning offerings allows you to: • Learn real-life lawyering in a professional setting • Gain practical knowledge and develop professional skills and values • Work under the supervision of experienced practitioners and a faculty member • Establish connections with practicing attorneys • Build a résumé of real legal experience and gain insight into areas of law that interest you
Translating Theory into Practice
One of the keys to becoming a successful lawyer is experience. The Western New England University School of Law offers students a wide variety of options to gain firsthand experience working with clients, writing legal documents, conducting research, and litigating cases. Through the nine Law Clinics and over 100 Judicial and Public Interest Externship placements offered by the School, students gain the opportunity to put into practice all of these skills and more.
Clinical Legal Practice Opportunities
Criminal Defense Practicum
Students work as student defense attorneys at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS), representing indigent clients within the Hampden County District Courts, which includes a mix of both misdemeanors and felonies.
Criminal Law Clinic
Students prosecute real cases for the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office. Under the direction of an experienced Assistant District Attorney, students research, prepare, and litigate actual cases from the Hampden County Court System. This clinic gives students a firsthand look at each aspect of the trial process.
Students helps citizens who have been unfairly treated in housing or employment and have sought assistance from the Massachusetts Commision Against Discrimination.
Elder Law Clinic
Students represent elders in a range of matters, including planning for incapacity with powers of attorney and heathcare proxies, planning for the disposition of property at death via joint ownership, beneficiary designation, and simple wills, and planning for eligibility for public benefits for long-term care.
International Human Rights Clinic
Students work collaboratively with domestic and international nongovernmental organizations, grass-roots organizations, solidarity networks, attorneys, stakeholders, and other institutions engaging in human rights work to advance political, economic, social, and cultural human rights across borders.
Legal Services Clinic
The clinic is run by Community Legal Aid (CLA), a private, nonprofit organization that provides civil legal assistance to low income residents in western Massachusetts. Students learn about the practice of law, and engage in community service by providing essential legal services to those in need. Students may choose to participate in the Housing Unit (Landlord-Tenant Law) or Legal Services Unit (Disability, Employment, Public Benefits, Family, and Immigration Law).
Students mediate family law cases at the Hampden Probate and Family Court. The clinic includes observing and learning the court process, and involvement in the screening process in conjunction with the mediation and training.
Real Estate Practicum
Students are placed with practicing lawyers and title insurance companies to learn the ins and outs of real estate practice. Students work on matters involving deed descriptions and title searches, closings, zoning issues, condominium documents, appraisals, leases, and mortgages.
Small Business Clinic
Students provide legal services to local small businesses. Law students work on start-up transactional legal matters, including choice-of-entity, employment policies, contract drafting, regulatory compliance, and intellectual property issues. The clinic acts as a catalyst for economic development in western Massachusetts
Judicial, Public Interest, Government, and Private Sector Opportunities
Externships allow students to work directly with judges or alongside attorneys in public interest organizations, government agencies, and law firms. Externs conduct research, prepare legal documents, and apply other lawyering skills. Externships also provide excellent exposure to professionals who can offer both advice and career insights.
Moot Court Competitions
Teams from Western New England have distinguished themselves in national competitions
Western New England University School of Law offers numerous opportunities for students to hone their professional lawyering skills through legal competitions. Through various inter-law school and intramural moot court teams students have ample opportunity to add valuable experiences to their law school education.
Simulations and Specialized Skills Courses
In-House Practical Skills Offerings
Western New England School of Law offers a number of courses that help students learn by engaging in simulations of the kind of real-world lawyering that normally takes place outside of the classroom. These courses teach oral argument skills, negotiation skills, mediation skills, transactional and litigation drafting skills, problem solving, and much more. Simulation courses are offered in the areas of trial methods, negotiation, arbitration, mediation, business, bankruptcy, tax, and real estate.
Pro Bono Opportunities
Western New England University School of Law has a long tradition of service in Springfield and surrounding communities. In order to graduate, students must complete 20 hours of pro bono service. The Pro Bono program allows students to provide legal services to underrepresented community members while honing their own legal skills.
Students hired by local firms
Since our inception as Springfield-Northeastern in 1919, which subsequently became Western New England University, local employers have actively recruited students for part-time employment from our School of Law. Working part-time allows students to continue to develop their lawyering skills as well as providing experience for their resume.
What our students say about their experiential education
Students continually refer to their clinic and externship experiences as the "best part of law school".
“The value of an externship isn’t about finding your dream job; it’s about making yourself marketable through experience. I externed for Judge Fields at the Massachusetts Housing Court, interned at UTC Aerospace Systems, and was a student attorney in the Criminal Law Clinic. Each experience provided me a unique insight into different areas of law that the classroom couldn’t.”
Hadiatou Barry 3L
Six-year Engineering/Law Program
“My externship at Baystate Medical Center exposed me to the inner workings of a hospital in a way that I could not have known simply by sitting in a classroom. In addition to learning what the Risk Management department does, I have also been able to research and learn about a variety of healthcare issues as well as help review and edit hospital policies. I believe this experience will be a great stepping stone for me in pursuing a career in healthcare law.”
“The International Human Rights Clinic was an amazing experience and allowed me to gain hands-on experience. I had the privilege of working with Professor Carasik on a land rights manual for the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination and assisting in research for an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Vieques petition.“