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Prerequisite Classes and Co-Curricular Courses

Clinicians will want to consider whether students will be better prepared to work in a clinic if they have taken particular courses in the law school curriculum as prerequisites. One consideration before making this decision is to what extent a clinic wants to create barriers to enrollment. Every prerequisite places a barrier to entry in the path of a student. If a clinic has long waitlists, this may not be a concern. Secondly, does the prerequisite that is required actually enable a student to better perform his or her duties for the client? This decision may be coupled with whether or not there is a classroom component that goes along with a clinic and what topics the instructor teaches in it. There are many models for courses that accompany or are related to clinical fieldwork. (See Educational Curriculum for more information).

Some clinics will be constrained by curriculum committees with regard to some of these matters. The key point with regard to prerequisites is the return a clinic may get for the extra requirement. With regard to what one teaches in the co-curricular course, the key is to balance time and the topics covered to achieve maximum impact on the work of the students. With regard to credit hours, many transactional clinics have adopted the same policies as their institution’s other clinics to maintain consistency across clinical offerings. Setting the appropriate number of credit hours for a clinic should be a simple calculus dependent on the time that students spend on the course; however, it can be bureaucratic, random, and political. In addition, some states may not count clinical credits as credits earned “in the classroom.” This may affect requirements for sitting for certain bar exams.

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