For the first time, law students are gaining hands-on experience this fall with California's highest court.
Through the California Supreme Court Clinic at UC Davis School of Law, six lucky students will work with counsel for parties in Supreme Court cases, write draft briefs to be filed with the court, and follow cases through the appeals process.
"The clinic will basically operate like a small pro bono law office," says clinic director and former litigator Aimee Feinberg. She added that it is modeled loosely after Stanford University's Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, which is lauded for giving law students unparalleled access to the nation's highest court.
The Davis law school is already home to several other clinics - Civil Rights, Family Protection and Legal Assistance, Immigration Law, and Prison Law - and is building a reputation for incorporating practical skills into its curriculum.
California State Bar President Jon B. Streeter is a vocal advocate of this type of experience-based learning. Streeter believes that although mentorship is important once an attorney gets to the workplace, law schools are responsible for offering their students some hands-on experience, much as a medical school would.
"The importance of practice readiness among new admittees to the bar has never been more crucial than it is now, with many new lawyers coming out of law school encountering great difficulty finding jobs," says Streeter.
Davis's most prominent aluma, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, calls the new clinic a "terrific idea."
"It provides students with hands-on experience," she says, "a skill set for their future legal world."