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January 9, 2013

Students Benefit from Skills-Training Opportunities at Oregon Law

In this increasingly fast-paced and changing world, law school students are looking for more hands-on skills training to better prepare for the workforce. The University of Oregon School of Law is serving these students’ needs by providing an abundance of opportunities in the form of skills courses, clinics and externships. Students, in turn, are flocking to these programs.

In 2013, 84 percent of all students participated in at least one clinic or externship before graduation, a nearly 10 percent increase since 2009. Ninety-four of the 152 graduating students who completed a clinic or externship did so specifically in areas relating to criminal law. Currently, Oregon Law offers more than 20 skills classes in areas ranging from water resources law to legal drafting to mediation, as well as 12 clinics for those interested in working with real clients while in school. In addition, the school provides a wide variety of externship opportunities in areas such as environmental law, domestic violence counseling, child advocacy and bankruptcy law. Many students also partake in judicial clerkships.

The most popular clinics and externships among students are run through the school’s Business Law, Criminal Law, Environmental Law and Family Law programs. Many students find the clinics particularly appealing because they allow participants to develop practical skills by working directly with clients, all while under the guidance of an experienced advisor.

Selected clinics from Oregon Law’s extensive roster of programs include: the Civil Practice clinics, in which students provide legal aid to low-income individuals in Lane County; the Criminal Defense Clinic and Criminal Prosecution clinics, in which students present the defense and prosecution for local criminal court cases; the Domestic Violence Clinic, in which students represent victims of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault; the Small Claims Mediation and Probate Mediation clinics, in which students provide mediation services in small claims and probate court cases; and the Small Business Clinic, in which students provide legal assistance to small companies and entrepreneurs that need help forming and operating their businesses.

At Oregon Law, students must successfully complete at least one skills-development class during their second or third year of law school in order to graduate. While some skills courses consist of traditional coursework, clinics and externships are considered skills courses as well, and satisfy the requirement.
View a full list of skills courses, externships and clinics offered by Oregon Law.

Oregon Law alumnus Kyle Smith ’12 participated in the school’s Nonprofit Clinic program during its first year in 2011. There, he worked with a group of two other students to assess the bylaws, management practices and governance structure of a nonprofit organization. His work at the clinic helped him land a job as director of communications and development at the Calapooia Watershed Council in Brownsville, Ore.

“The Nonprofit Clinic was one of the leading reasons I was offered and accepted a position as communications and development director with the Calapooia Watershed Council,” Smith said. “I was told after accepting the position that the interview committee valued my nonprofit experience and commitment to nonprofit management, and that many of the skills I gained through the clinic were leading reasons for getting the job.”

No matter what professional path students elect to pursue, Oregon Law provides the practical skills courses necessary to successfully enter the workforce as a recent graduate and add immediate value to their employer.

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