Academic Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a clinical or externship program?

A clinical program is a teaching method integrating theory with hands-on legal training. In the clinics, students perform the work of professional attorneys. In a clinic, students are supervised in-house by BU Law faculty members. In an externhsip, students are supervised by experienced practitioners at a host organization.

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What types of programs are offered?

Our offerings fall into three general areas: in-house clinics, legislative clinics, and externships. Within those core areas, students will find great opportunities related to health law, intellectual property, asylum law, human rights, housing law, family law, legislative process, and many other subjects.

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To participate in a program, do I need a career commitment to the area of law covered in that program?

No. We encourage you to take a clinic or externship regardless of whether or not you are set on a practice area. The programs are a great way to explore a type of law to see how you like it. In addition, the skills you will gain in any program are transferable to many other areas of practice and prepare you to transition to a legal career post-graduation. Feel free to contact a CDO counselor about how a clinical program might fit into your career goals.

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What is the time commitment of the clinics and how many credits will I receive?

The hours of work each week and number of credits awarded vary from clinic to clinic. Generally, most students can expect to spend at least 12-16 hours a week performing fieldwork. Some externship placements require a 20 hr/wk commitment. In addition, everyl program has at least one accompanying seminar, where students learn skills and legal theory related to their clinical work. Most clinics award around six credits per semester for the fieldwork and seminar, although some programs, in particular externships, award more. Please see information about specific clinics to learn more about work loads and credits.

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Can I do a journal and a clinic?

Yes, but clinics and externships are time consuming and journals are too. Think about your obligations and be realistic in planning your work load for your 2L and 3L years.

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Can I do more than one progam while I am at BU Law?

Yes, but you may participate in only one program at a time.

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Is there a maximum number of clinical credits I can take during my time at BU Law?

You may receive a maximum of 16 non-GPA credits during your time at BU Law. Non-GPA credits are awarded for the fieldwork portion of the externship programs. Other activities for which you receive non-GPA credits include: study abroad programs, working on a journal, and credit for a class at another school at BU (such as a class at the Graduate School of Management), to name a few.

The fieldwork portion of the in-house clinics, for example the Civil Litigation Program, Criminal Clinical Programs and Legislative Clinics, are graded and therefore do not count toward the 16 non-GPA credit maximum.

Students wishing to exceed the 16 non-GPA credit maximum may petition the Academic Standards Committee for approval.

In addition, please check the rules of the state where you are intending to take the bar. New York, for example, has a 20 credit cap on number of credits that may be awarded for clinical courses or other legal training.

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Should I participate in a clinic as a 2L or a 3L?

2L and 3L students are equally welcome to take the clinics. Which year you take a clinic depends mainly on your own workload. Please feel free to make an appointment to come in and speak with us about whether doing a clinic 2L or 3L year makes the mose sense for you.

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Do I need top grades to be accepted into a clinic?

No. Most clinics pick students based on class year (priority is given to 3L students), and students are selected by lottery. Some programs, including the Judicial Externship Progam, Human Trafficking Clinic, International Human Rights Clinic, and Entrepreneurship & IP Clinic, require additional application materials (e.g. resume, statement of purpose).

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Do any of the clinics count toward a concentration?

Yes. Participation in the following programs counts toward the concentration in litigation and dispute resolution: Civil Litigation Program, the Immigrants' Rights Clinic the Criminal Law Clinic, or a litigation-based placement in any of the externship programs. Participation in the Health Law Externship Program counts toward the health law concentration.

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Can I fulfill my professional responsibility requirement by participating in a clinic?

Yes. The classroom components of the Criminal Law Clinic and Legal Externship Program satisfy the professional responsibility requirement. In addition, the pre-trial advocacy component of the Civil Litigation Program's HEFD and fall ERC clinics satisfy the professional responsibility requirement.

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How do I decide which clinic to take?

Factors you may think about in choosing a clinic include: the fieldwork experience of each program, the class component of each program, whether the program is one or two semesters, and whether you want to use the clinical experience as one of BU Law's concentrations or to satisfy the professional responsibility requirement.

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How do I apply for a clinic?

Students apply each April for participation in the following academic year. The easy on-line application will be available on the Clinical Programs website following the Clinical Programs Open House.

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How do I find out about clinics?

Feel free to make an appointment with the Office of Clinical Programs to discuss your interests and what programs may be a good fit for you. In addition, contact information for each program can be found here.



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