By: Professor Phil Broadhead
OXFORD, Miss. –The University of Mississippi School of Law has been named among the top 25 nationally for practical training available to students by The National Jurist magazine.
The publication crunched the numbers for all the schools’ statistics and issued a report card it its spring 2016 issue, awarding the Ole Miss law school an A- rating, placing 19th in the nation.
“Our multi-faceted skills training program is one of the great strengths of the UM School of Law,” said Debbie Bell, interim dean. “We offer students opportunities to ‘learn by doing’ through in-house clinics, externships, practicums, simulation courses, the Skill Session, and advocacy programs. I am so glad that the scope of our program has been recognized nationally.”
The University of Mississippi School of Law has nine in-house clinics, including Child Advocacy, Criminal Appeals, Elder Law, Housing Clinic, MacArthur Justice Clinic, The George C. Cochran Innocence Project, the “Street Law” Clinic, Transactional Law Clinic, the Clinical Externship Program and the Pro Bono Initiative. The Pro Bono Initiative was recently honored by the Mississippi Volunteer Project’s Beacon of Justice Award for public service.
Additionally, two practicums, Tax and Conflict Management, offer law students opportunities to learn through experience, providing low-income families income tax assistance and learning to resolve disputes between undergraduate students. The Tax Practicum also won the 2015 Beacon of Justice Award.
The magazine used data provided by the American Bar Association and individual schools to compile the rankings, which are based on five categories: clinical experience, externships, simulation courses, interschool competitions and other course offerings.
“We look at a number of factors, including which schools have the greatest percentage of students in clinics, externships and simulation courses,” the report said. “We also look at the most robust moot court options.”
“However, this year, we also wanted to showcase how these programs do more than just get students out of sterile classrooms and away from their favorite Starbucks.”
Clinical experience was weighted the highest because it provides “particularly practical training,” the report said. Externships and simulations courses were also lauded for helping students develop professional skills.
“The [clinics] provide a great opportunity to experience the real-world practice of law with an actual client in need of representation,” said third-year student Derek Goff. “No traditional case book course allows a student to take on the role of a zealous advocate and hone essential [law practice] skills. The clinical programs are a great resume builder, but more importantly, they offer the unique chance for students to help clients in need.”
The Ole Miss law school has also enjoyed notable success in moot court competitions, collecting eight national competition championships in two years, including back-to-back championships in the Pace Environmental Law competition and, most recently, the Tulane Professional Football Negotiation Competition.
The School of Law is a world leader in air and space law training, offering an LL.M. program in the field. One of the school’s moot court teams also won the international championship in the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition, held in Jerusalem in October 2015.