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BC Law School to open center to give students more real-world legal experience

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  December 2, 2013 03:06 PM

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Boston College Law School plans to open a new center next fall focused on giving students more opportunities to work with actual clients who need legal help.

The Center for Experiential Learning will be a “law firm within a law school” focused on giving students hands-on, real-world experience “lawyering” before they graduate, campus officials said in a statement.

The center, which is scheduled to open in September in the school’s Smith Wing on the Newton campus, will house BC Law’s clinical and experiential programs, including in-house clinics, internships, semester-in-practice and short-term externships, officials said. It will also feature space for supervising faculty, support staff, and client services.

“Experiential learning is an essential part of providing the very best legal education for our students and complements the high quality academic preparation our students receive,” law school dean Vincent Rougeau said in a statement.

“We are determined to provide significant hands-on learning opportunities for our students in the years to come, with the ultimate goal of having all of our students participate in some form of experiential learning before they graduate,” he added.

The center is at the heart of the school’s long-term strategy to expand experiential learning. About 70 percent of BC Law students participate in experiential learning in some form. BC officials said they hope the new center will help to reach the school’s goal of raising that figure to 100 percent.

“The top law firms hiring Boston College Law School graduates look for deep legal knowledge and rich experiential preparation,” Rougeau’s statement said. This new center will help us meet the challenge of preparing our students to succeed as lawyers, and in the many different fields that now seek out law school graduates for a broad array of positions.”

Rougeau has picked clinical professor of law Paul Tremblay to lead the center’s programming.

“We are very excited about the synergies that will come from bringing everyone under one roof,” said a statement from Tremblay.

For several decades, the school has run a legal assistance clinic in Waltham. BC Law officials said the school plans to establish storefront clinics in several communities in and around Boston.

“We’re very committed to maintaining our ties to the local community,” Tremblay said. “We’ve built strong connections during our 45 years in Waltham, and we’re focused on continuing to serve that area and an even wider community around Boston. This move will allow us to maximize resources and expand our services to a larger client base.”

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at mjrochele@gmail.com. Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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