Academic Programs



Since 1965, BU Law has served as a model for clinical programs at law schools throughout the country. Today, our students are offered countless opportunities for personal and professional growth through our diverse experiential learning programs. These programs represent some of the most desired electives for second- and third-year students at BU Law.   Because there are so many offerings, students should consult with the faculty and staff of the Office of Clinical Programs as well as the Career Development Office for advice and guidance on which programs will fit with the students career and professional goals.  Students may choose:  direct-client based clinics, programs designed to teach skills of legislative drafting and advocacy, an array of Boston area part time externship programs as well as a full time Semester in Practice Program. BU Law also offers outstanding opportunities to gain skills through our Transactional Law Program (whose home page can be found here) and through numerous simulation courses which replicate skills needed for practice without the involvement of real clients. 

A brief description of the direct-client based clinics, the legislative clinics and the externship programs follows. All clinics and externship programs have a class component to accompany the fieldwork.

Direct-Client Based Clinics

The following programs offer the chance to work under the close supervision of clinical professors experienced in litigation matters, representing real clients in real cases.  The cases have been specially chosen to provide students with the greatest possibility of client contact and courtroom experience. Please click here for a comparison chart of our direct-client clinics.   

Through the Civil Litigation Program, BU Law has partnered with Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), New England’s leading legal services organization.  Students represent low-income clients in all phases of litigation under the supervision of full-time clinical faculty.   Students participate in one of three program areas:  the Housing, Employment, Family & Disability Clinic (full-year program); the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic (full-year program); or the Employment Rights Clinic (semester-long program).

In the Criminal Clinical Program (full-year program), students conduct investigations, participate in plea bargaining, try cases and make sentencing arguments, all under faculty supervision.  After a semester of training and supporting senior members of the clinic, students lead their own cases during their second semester of participation.  During this semester, students choose to act as a prosecutor, an adult defender, or a juvenile defender. More information can be found here.

Students in the Wrongful Convictions Clinic, screen applications from prisoners claiming innocence.  Students scrutinize transcripts, forensic evidence, motions and appeals, and report to the New England Innocence Project.  This is a one semester program but may with permission of the instructor extend for a second semester. For more information, please refer to BU Law’s Course Information website.

In the fall semester Human Trafficking Clinic, clinic students provide a variety of legal services, including direct representation of non-citizens trafficked into the U.S., advocacy for trafficking survivors, and community education and training. The course home page can be found here.

In the year-long International Human Rights Clinic,  clinic students will work on human rights projects, including: representing international NGO’s in advocacy in the UN Human Rights Council, the treaty bodies, the regional human rights organs (in the American, African, and European human rights systems); filing briefs and amicus briefs on international human rights law issues in US domestic courts; participating in universal jurisdiction claims in the US and other courts. More information can be found here.

Legislative Programs

BU Law boasts several one semester great options for students wishing to explore the intriguing world of the legislative process. Please click here f or a comparison chart of our legislative programs.

In the Africa i-Parliaments Clinic, students draft bill language and produce high-quality research reports supporting the African Parliamentary Knowledge Network (APKN), which helps to build the capacity of African parliaments to draft and enact more effective legislation. Click here for the clinic home page.

American Legislative Practice, is our most comprehensive program for learning about the law-making process.   Either through our in-house clinic or through an externship at the Massachusetts State House, students work on projects typically handled by the legal and research staff of a legislative committee. More information can be found on the clinic website.

Students interested in government lawyering should also explore a Semester-in-Practice in Washington, D.C., working for a federal agency or congressional committee.  The fieldwork component can be found here.  The paper accompanying the fieldwork is here.

Boston-based legal externships

Students can take advantage of Boston’s vibrant legal community by working part-time for school credit (unpaid) during the semester under the supervision of an attorney mentor.  We have several one semester externship programs to choose from, each with a different subject matter focus.  Please click here for a comparison chart of our externship programs .

Our general externship program is the Legal Externship Program, where students work at a public interest organization, at a government agency, in-house counsel, or a law firm (pro bono projects only).  The class component in legal ethics is described here, and the fieldwork information can be found here. Our Health Law Externship focuses on health law placements such as area hospitals.  Information on the fieldwork can be found here and the accompanying seminar is here. Through the Government Lawyering Externship Program, students work at a government agency such as the US Attorney’s Office.  The seminar is described here, and the fieldwork is described here. The Judicial Externship Program places students with judges at the state and federal level in trial and appellate courts.  The class is described here, and the fieldwork description can be found here. Through Community Courts, its fieldwork component, and the accompanying seminar, students see the inner workings of our community-based court system.  Finally, through our new Affordable Housing Externship Program, which also consists of fieldwork and an accompanying seminar, students work at non-profit and government community development organizations.

Beyond Boston: Semester-In-Practice Program

We are proud to include among our offerings this fabulous opportunity to spend a semester in Boston or away working full-time for credit (unpaid).  Participating students so far have worked in various government agencies in Washington, D.C., and farther afield in Los Angeles and even Geneva, Switzerland.  For students with well-defined career goals, the Semester-in-Practice Program is a valuable career-building experience that poses a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There are a number of options:

Semester in Practice in DC

Semester in Practice in Human Rights

Semester in Practice in Death Penalty Work

Semester in Practice - Independent Proposal

“I sat behind Senator Leahy at Justice Kagan’s confirmation hearing.  It certainly can’t get much better than that.”

Hasan Ali (’10) – Semester-in Practice Program