Jump to Footer

Experiential Education

Practical Experience

  • 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

  • Clinics and Practicum's

    Our Clinics are directed by faculty members who are highly regarded experts in their fields.

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 Prosecution 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.

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.

Family Law MEDIATION CLINIC
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.

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 Aid Clinic/General Civil Practice Units
Legal Aid Clinic students are placed at Community Legal Aid (CLA), a private, non-profit organization that provides civil legal assistance to poor people and elders. While the Legal Aid Clinic allows students to learn about the real practice of law, it also gives them the opportunity to engage in community service by providing essential legal services to those in need.

General Civil Practice Units Include: Landlord-Tenant Law, Disability Law (primarily helping with social security disability and SSI appeals), Employment Law (primarily unemployment compensation), Benefits Unit (representation of low income people in obtaining TAFDC benefits, or EAEDC disability benefits, or other public benefits programs), Elder Law, Family Law, primarily assisting victims of domestic violence and child support cases, and Education Law.

LEGAL AID CLINIC/Immigration Unit
Students in the Legal Aid Clinic/Immigration Unit work at the office of the Central West Justice Center (CWJC), a subsidiary of Community Legal Aid.

Students work on humanitarian immigration cases, including applications for asylum for individuals fleeing persecution, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for abused, neglected, and abandoned children, relief under the Violence Against Women Act for survivors of domestic violence, and U visas for crime victims. Students also interview clients and witnesses, prepare affidavits, assist in gathering documentary evidence, and research and write legal memoranda. Students may also conduct intake interviews with clients at community clinics. 

Legal Aid Clinic/Veterans Unit
Students participate in serving low-income veterans through Community Legal Aid's Medical Legal Partnership with the VA Hospital in Leeds, Massachusetts. The goal of the medical legal partnership is to use legal tools to improve medical outcomes for veterans. The legal work includes assisting veterans in accessing or maintaining medical care, stable housing, and financial stability.  A typical case for the clinic may involve assisting a veteran living with post-traumatic stress disorder to access benefits earned during service even though PTSD symptoms contributed to an unfavorable discharge decades ago when PTSD was poorly understood.

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.

Read More About Our Clinics

Externships

  • 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.

    Read more about externships

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.

    Read More About Our Teams

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.

    Read more about our simulation courses

Pro Bono Opportunities

  • Community Lawyering

    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. 

    Read More about our pro bono program

PART-TIME EMPLOYMENT

  • 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.

    Check out Career Services

Student Testimonials

  • What our students say about their experiential education

    Students continually refer to their clinic and externship experiences as the "best part of law school".

  • Kathryn Malone

    Class of 2019

    "Working with clients at my externship for the Committee for Public Counsel Services provided so much insight into larger social problems and the human condition. The overwhelming majority of my clients suffered from substance abuse disorders and/or mental illness, lacked opportunities to pursue an education, or experienced significant economic heardship. My supervisor routinely pointed out that our clients are humans with flaws, and are always worthy of being treated with dignity and respect.  I hope to carry that perspective with me throughout my career."

  • Eric Harrell

    Class of 2019

    " I would recommend the Externship Program to anyone who wants to get practical experience of being a lawyer.  I was able to gain massive litigation experience in court and utilize every bit of my 3:03 student practice certification by learning to write motions and prep cases.  I learned almost every facet of the Care and Protection legal process and I developed soft skills of communicating with lawyers, social workers, and families.  There is no question that this externship made me a better lawyer and a better person."

  • Joevonne Brace

    Class of 2019

    "The Criminal Defense Practicum created the Criminal Lawyer in me.  The practicum established my 3:03 student practice certification which allowed me to appear before criminal proceedings. The 3:03 certification for law students is comparable to a medical student's residency. I interviewed clients in lock up, conducted bail arguments, alternative bail hearings, arraignments, pre-trial conferences, and trial readiness procedures. I also prepared memorandums, argued with opposing counsel, and negotiated with judges. It was the experiential learning that helped me fully understand the entire law school curriculum."

  • Sarah Morgan

    Class of 2017

    "There is a lot to be done in International Human Rights Law and the clinic is a great opportunity to get your feet wet and gain experience before exiting law school."

    Watch video
  • Hadiatou Barry 3L

    Class of 2017 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.” 

  • Caitlin Shugrue

    Class of 2016

    "Professor Tina Cafaro goes out of her way to prepare you as best as possible before you enter the courtroom in the real world and stand before a real judge."

    Watch Video
  • Mathew Kelly

    Class of 2016

    “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’t.”

  • Alicia Estrada

    Class of 2015

    “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 against Women and assisting in research for an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Vieques petition.“