MSU College of Law

A Meaningful Way to Build Skills: 
MSU Law Clinics

First-year law students focus on learning the law, mastering key concepts, applying legal reasoning, and understanding the intricacies of the justice system. Once they’ve established that foundation of knowledge, 2Ls and 3Ls at MSU Law have the opportunity to apply the law outside of the lecture hall.

A wide range of hands-on clinics. MSU Law's clinics represent a broad range of professional interests.

Tax | Child Advocacy | Civil Rights | Conflict Resolution | First Amendment | Food | Housing | Immigration | | Plea & Sentencing | Indian Child Welfare

Develop a professional presence. Students have ownership over real cases while receiving one-on-one support from faculty mentors, who often serve as allies in the post-graduation job search. They learn substantive law and how to apply it, getting an insider perspective on how to practice in a specific field.

But the critical skills-building in the clinic often goes beyond learning the letter of the law: clinic students learn how to show up in the working world as legal professionals.

“You’ll learn to communicate, prepare, and perform as a lawyer in the workforce while interacting with faculty, professional mentors, and clients,” said Professor David Thronson, Associate Dean for Experiential Education. “We take each case, think creatively about how to best help the client, and follow it wherever it needs to go.” Students learn how to prioritize multiple cases, manage long-term client relationships, and work with a team.

MSU Law clinic students are also responsible for providing stellar customer support in high-stress, often emotional situations. It’s a critical skill in the real world of legal practice.

“Employers want to know that candidates will serve their valuable clients well,” said Joshua Wease, director of the Tax Clinic. “Clinical students can establish that they have actually delivered great client service.”

Great representation changes lives. Clinic students don’t just gain powerful experience on how to be lawyers. They use their legal education to resolve issues that matter.

They represent underserved communities, including small-scale farmers in Detroit, elderly renters on the brink of eviction, refugees from global crises, unaccompanied immigrant children, and low-income families overwhelmed by tax debt. “Hearing the relief in clients’ voices when you tell them that you got their huge tax debt wiped out or that the collections notices will stop is incredibly satisfying,” said Steven Harding, ’15.

It’s an experience that reminds many students why they came to law school in the first place: to make a difference.