Experiential Education at UDC-DCSL

Your education at UDC-DCSL begins with a program of required and core courses that form the foundation of a well-rounded legal education. To qualify for graduation, a student must complete a course of study consisting of not fewer than 90 credit hours. Required courses (including 14 hours of clinic) account for sixty-six (66) of those credit hours. Students must choose three courses from a list of core courses typically tested on most state bar examinations, and may choose their remaining credit hours from a diverse menu of elective courses.

UDC-DCSL is committed to training attorneys who have the knowledge, skills and practical experience required for admission to the bar and effective and responsible participation in the legal profession. We offer students a rich array of experiential learning opportunities, beginning with forty hours of required legal community service in the first year of law school.

Our signature program is clinical legal education, in which students work under the supervision of faculty members to provide legal services to District residents. UDC-DCSL has the highest clinic requirement of any law school in the country. Every UDC-DCSL student experiences a minimum of 700 hours of hand-on clinical work that prepares them to deal effectively with clients and use their legal knowledge to solve real-world problems.

In addition to our required community service and clinic programs, the School of Law offers students several additional experiential learning opportunities. These include summer public interest fellowships, a robust externship program, service learning opportunities, and doctrinal courses with practicum components that engage students in problem-solving activities.

Pathways to Practice

Many law students are interested in a general legal education, and are not sure what career path they intend to follow. They are free to choose any combination of electives that sound interesting and round out their general legal education. For students who know they would like to specialize in a certain kind of law, we have developed Pathways to Practice in eight broad practice areas: Civil Rights and Equality, Criminal Law, Family and Juvenile Law, General Transactional Law Practice, Housing and Community Development Law, Immigration Law and Human Rights, Public Service/Public Policy, and Solo and Law Firm Practice.

You are not required to choose a Pathway, and if you do, you may choose to change paths at any time. Many of the courses and experiential opportunities overlap several Pathways, and choosing one does not commit you to follow a specific curriculum. Rather, we offer Pathways to help you choose core courses, electives, clinics and other experiential learning opportunities that connect with specific areas of study and career paths. They will help you build a body of knowledge, skills and experience that will prepare you for practice in your chosen field. You will also build a network of like-minded colleagues, faculty advisors, alumni and prospective employers to help you make the transition from law school to practice.

You may choose a Pathway at any time in your legal education, and you are free to change your Pathway at any time as well. If you entered law school with a clear idea of what you want to do, you may begin your Pathway in your first year by choosing a community service placement in your field. In the summer following your first year, you may choose to take one of the recommended electives, or to obtain a Summer Public Interest Fellowship in your field. When it comes time to choose a clinic preference, the Pathways will guide you toward the clinics that will best prepare you for your chosen field. You may also choose elective seminars that permit you to satisfy the Upper Level Writing Requirement by writing a scholarly paper relevant to your field.