New York Law School is planning a major expansion for its clinical offerings that would double the number of real-world training programs available to students next year.
The school will launch 13 new clinics, most of which would involve partnerships with New York City agencies or local nonprofit organizations. For example, students would represent low-income public school students who have been suspended or prosecute taxicab and livery cab drivers accused of violating the city’s rules.
"As New York’s law school, it’s only natural that we embrace the city as our classroom and grow the number of uniquely New York experiential learning opportunities for our students," said dean Anthony Crowell, who served in variety of New York City government posts from 1997 to 2012, most recently as counsel to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"When I started at [the law school] last summer, I made a commitment to work with our faculty on a historic expansion of our clinical and experiential programs," he said.
Crowell’s contacts throughout New York City agencies proved useful in recruiting clinic partners — plenty of agencies, he said, were happy to receive student assistance.
The arrangements significantly reduced the cost of expanding the school’s clinical offerings, since it has hired attorneys from within those institutions to serve as adjuncts. Full-time law faculty members have also stepped in, Crowell said.
"I think everyone understands that we need more clinics and that the model of running clinics internally is just way too expensive," said Frank Bress, director of clinical programs.
Administrators hope that placing students within city agencies would help their employment prospects, either directly through the agencies or by other legal employers attracted by their real-world experience, Crowell said.
The expansion will boost the number of clinics to 26 — enough to ensure that each student who wants to has the opportunity to participate. Clinic hours count toward New York state’s 50-hour pro bono requirement for bar admission.
Perhaps most notable is what’s has been dubbed the "clinical year," modeled after medical school. Participating students will rotate through three clinics during their 3L year, spending 10-week sequences aiding city lawmakers in drafting legislation; helping with civil litigation through the Legal Aid Society, and assisting with administrative law through the city’s health department.
The concept is similar to Northeastern University’s School of Law’s co-op program, in which students spend alternative quarters in real-world legal settings.
Karen Sloan is a reporter for The National Law Journal, a Legal affiliate based in New York.