CUNY Law clinical programs named best in the nation by U.S. News

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Newyorker1987 | Wikimedia Commons

Emanuela Gallo

CUNY School of Law’s clinical training programs have been named best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. It is tied with Georgetown University.

The ranking is based on peer assessment surveys conducted in fall 2020 and early 2021. They were given to law school faculty who teach in clinical education.

“Year after year, the CUNY Law School has played a vital and often unheralded role in New York City, training lawyers who want to serve those who need them most and finding creative channels to expand access and make a real difference in people’s lives,” Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez said.

Clinical education is experiential, hands-on learning in the real world while being supervised by faculty. Every CUNY law student participates in the clinical program.

“It is necessary to fundamentally understand how the law is applied to real-world scenarios in order to professionally practice law,” senior Suman Afzal told The Ticker in a Google survey shared on social media.

CUNY School of Law is best known for its commitment to the public interest, preparing students for careers in advocacy and social justice for underrepresented communities.

“It’s important to help the legal needs of these communities because they lack resources and monetary income to get adequate legal help,” Afzal said.

The school offers practice clinics in 12 fields including economic justice, disability and aging justice, family law, health and environmental justice, and immigrant and non-citizen rights.
“The strong clinical program gives better training to students who want to go into public interest, which overall strengthens the field,” political science and economics major Jessica Yeroshalmi said.

One program titled the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR) Clinic supports Muslim, Arab, and South Asian peoples who are targeted by government agencies under national security and counterterrorism policies.

The CLEAR Clinic’s efforts over the past seven years resulted in a 2020 U.S. Supreme Court case. It ruled in favor of three Muslim men who had been placed on the no-fly list for declining to spy on their religious communities.

The Immigrant and Non-Citizen Rights Clinic recently helped release an asylum-seeker who was in Mexico due to the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

The Defenders Clinic began a project that reviews and litigates wrongful conviction claims, in a partnership with the Legal Aid Society’s Wrongful Conviction Unit.

“There is so much unmet legal need in the city and it has only grown during the pandemic with people facing untold difficulties and crises,” Matos Rodríguez said.

CUNY’s clinical program surpassed Top 14 Law Schools such as Yale University and New York University. These schools’ tuition is more than double the cost of CUNY School of Law.

“Allowing students, who don’t have the access to funds for the T14 schools’ quality of education, to develop their careers is critical to creating equality and providing resources for
social mobility,” Yeroshalmi said. “In the mission of serving underserved communities, it is not only important to provide legal aid but also to provide the resources that would allow members
of the community to rise up and advocate for themselves. The low cost of CUNY law does just that.”