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CUNY Law’s Clinics:Legal Education for Social Justice

For more than a decade, CUNY Law’s signature clinical program has been recognized as a national leader in clinical education. The clinics are structured as an in-house law firm called Main Street Legal Services. Students in the clinic provide direct, supervised client representation to more than 1,000 low-income individuals and families throughout New York City.

“The clinics model effective social justice lawyering in a range of areas,” said Associate Dean for Clinical Programs Sameer Ashar. “Our students bring to the program strong commitment and, in most cases, directly relevant work experience. We provide them with opportunities to work alongside clients and partner organizations, as they learn to become excellent lawyers for poor people.”

Unlike other law schools, which typically limit clinical experience to eight credits, CUNY requires each third-year student to participate in a clinic or clinical concentration for one or two semesters (12 to 16 credits). To prepare students for direct client work, the clinics engage them in a prerequisite lawyering seminar, which uses simulations, mock jury trials, mediations, arbitrations, and substantive theory as training.