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Beyond the Book—The Expansion of Experiential Learning

For more than forty years, Yale Law School has been committed to clinical education and the belief that engaging students with real clients and real legal problems enriches their legal knowledge. Traditionally, clinical education was seen as an extension of academic education — but something apart from the scholarly work of academics.

In recent years the divide between the approach of practitioners and scholars has been shrinking. In the past academic year alone, there have been dozens of classes, clinics, and projects that — at their core — value the engagement of students with real world, practical issues while also pursuing scholarly ends. Some of this expansion is due to a new generation of faculty, many of whom experienced clinical education as students. Taken as a group, these faculty members’ classes and projects represent a new hybrid of pedagogical approaches — a melding of the technique of practitioners with the academic analysis and theoretical thought ascribed to scholars.

This article examines some of the ways that experiential learning has recently been used in the many classes, projects, and clinics at Yale Law School, offering students on-the-ground experience paired with the critical and analytical lens of classroom work.

To read this feature story, which includes a Q&A with Professor Mike Wishnie ’93 and descriptions of several of the experiential learning opportunities at Yale Law School, download the full article.