Actual Practice Requirement

Today, we continue our coverage of our third year curriculum with a look at the third year’s actual practice requirement. As we detail on our third year webpage, the intellectual core of the third year is four elective courses, one real-client experience (either a clinic, an externship or a Transnational Human Rights program) and three additional electives taught in a problems-based, practicum style.

The actual practice requirement is rooted in the idea that all students should be exposed to real clients with real, live legal problems during their time law school. Practicum experiences are also essential to this development, but those are simulated experiences. We believe it is important for our students to get involved with the messiness of client problems outside the comfort and safety net of the classroom. Our actual practice experiences allow them to do just that.

As noted above, there are many different ways a student can satisfy this requirement. Here are the ways our third year students satisfied this requirement in the past semester:

Black Lung Clinic
Citizenship and Immigration Program
Community Legal Practice Clinic
Criminal Justice Clinic
Tax Clinic
Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse

For more about our clinical offerings, please see:

In addition, we have a number of existing externship placements, including our Public Prosecutors and Judicial Externship programs, in which students may participate. In addtion, there is some flexibility for students who are interested in doing something a little different than what is offered through our existing clinical and externship programs. This past fall, students worked for the following employers:

Commonwealth’s Attorney (Lexington, Lynchburg, Covington, Roanoke, Salem and Fincastle, Virginia)
U.S. Attorney (Roanoke, Virginia)
Washington and Lee University General Counsel
Washington and Lee University Athletic Department
University of Virginia – Office of the General Counsel (Charlottesville, Virginia)
Rosetta Stone (Harrisonburg, Virginia)
Judge Advocate General
Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore (Roanoke, Virginia)
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Regional Counsel (Roanoke, Virginia)
Federal Public Defender’s Office (Roanoke, Virginia)
Blue Ridge Legal Services (Lexington, Virginia)
Steptoe & Johnson (Charleston, West Virginia)
Environmental Protection Agency
Fairfield Center (Harrisonburg, Virginia)
Heslep & Kearney P.C. (Lexington, Virginia)

As noted above, we also offer a judicial externship program. 19 students clerked for judges in the following courts:

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Court of Appeals of Virginia
Roanoke City Courthouse
City of Salem Circuit Court
Rockbridge County Courthouse
Supreme Court of Virginia
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia
Twenty-Fifth Judicial Circuit of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Court of Appeals of Virginia
Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit of the Commonwealth of Virginia

We also offer several Transnational offerings that also satisfy this requirement:

Transnational Tribunals (Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia)
Transnational Access to Justice (Liberia)
Transnational European Court of Human Rights (Serbia)

You can read more about these experiences here:

If you’re interested in our transnational offerings, be sure to watch the following interview with Professor Speedy Rice:

Over the next week, we will feature a number of posts from current students discussing their actual practice experiences. In the meantime, please take a moment to watch this video interview with Assistant Dean for Clinical Education and Public Service, Mary Natkin and Clinical Professor JD King:

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