The Intersection of Theory and Practice

The Law School’s Ph.D. in Law program joins a panoply of courses, clinics, and programs that have, in recent years, strengthened the bond between theory and practice at Yale Law School.

The Ethics BureauSupreme Court Advocacy Clinic, and the Media Freedom and Information Access Practicum are just a few of the projects that provide hands-on learning opportunities for students to work on groundbreaking national issues. The Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization offers such cutting-edge clinics as the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy ClinicVeterans Legal Services Clinic, and the Transnational Development Clinic. And unlike most other law schools, Yale Law School allows students to take clinics—and appear in court—during the spring of their first year. About 80% of YLS students take advantage of this unique opportunity to combine theory with practice, and many students take more than one clinic. With more than two dozen clinics and projects, there are almost always places available.

The Law School’s “Challenges of a General Counsel” course is just one of a number of courses where students learn from practitioners in the field. Other experiential learning opportunities bring academics and practitioners together in close-knit collaborations with real-world results. These include the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project, the Law School’s partnership with the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, where students work alongside city attorneys and Professor Heather Gerken on innovative public interest lawsuits; and the School’s Center for Global Legal Challenges, where students prepare white papers and amicus briefs under the guidance of Professor Oona Hathaway for congressional staff and the U.S. State Department.

The School’s Center for the Study of Corporate Law, under Sterling Professor Roberta Romano, continues to attract the nation’s top corporate leaders and financial experts to engage students and faculty in the national and international financial and corporate debates of the day. The Law School’s accelerated three-year J.D./MBA degree provides a fast track to the business law and managerial fields for interested students as well.

And Yale Law School’s outstanding support for the public interest continues with the awarding of more than three dozen long-term fellowships to students and recent graduates. These placements offer valuable, on-the-ground training that often results in a permanent position in an NGO or government agency. The fellowship support, along with assistance from programs like COAP, forms a solid foundation upon which to build a public interest career.

“Actual experience in solving problems in local, state, national, and international contexts can be extremely valuable, especially when supplemented by the most sophisticated available legal scholarship. The Law School encourages innovative partnerships with agencies and practitioners so as to prepare our students to practice law in the area of their choice upon graduation,” said Dean Robert Post ’77.