What is Applied Legal Education?

For most of the 20th century American law schools were content to train students to "think like lawyers," leaving the job of training students to practice law to the workplace. In the early 1960's a handful of law faculty began small experiments in applied legal education through the development of legal clinics. The goal was to facilitate a reflective and experiential learning process without the economic and efficiency pressures of the workplace, and to help students understand how the law works in action while providing sorely needed pro bono representation to the poor.

In 1969, the Council on Legal Education for Professional Responsibility (CLEPR) was formed upon the notion that "applied legal education effectively places the practitioners-to-be in the chaos of real life; sharpens their skills in this context; teaches them to triumph over emotional stress and tensions as professionals; heightens their appreciation of quality standards of practice; shows them what it is to be people-oriented; enables them to help the machinery of justice function better by their presence as lawyers in training; and, above all, exposes them to the complexities and demands of justice on the level at which it operates."

With an 11 million dollar endowment, CLEPR soon awarded grants to 209 law schools to establish live-client clinics, effectively starting modern applied legal education. In live-client clinics, students provide direct representation to clients in a wide variety of substantive contexts under the supervision of a faculty member who is also a licenced attorney. The field soon came to include a significant number of "off-site" field placement programs in which students are simultaneously taught and supervised by law school faculty and practicing lawyers in the field.


What is CSALE?

The Center for the Study of Applied Legal Education is a 501(c)(3), non-profit corporation dedicated to the empirical study of applied legal education and the promotion of related scholarship. Located at the University of Michigan Law School, CSALE collects data on applied legal education in areas including program design, capacity, administration, funding, pedagogy, and the role of applied legal education and educators in the academy. Seventy-seven percent of ABA accredited law schools participated in CSALE's 2007-08 Survey, 84% participated in its 2010-11 Survey. Law schools, legal educators, scholars and governmental agencies examining or navigating issues in these and other areas repeatedly rely on CSALE's data in their work.

CSALE makes its data available at no cost in two ways. The results of each triennial national survey are provided in a detailed report at the end of every survey cycle. Upon request, CSALE also works with end users to help shape their inquiry and then generates customized reports cross-tabulating various aspects of the data. In its first four years of existence, CSALE produced over 330 of these reports at no charge. Recipients include legal educators from nearly two-thirds of all ABA accredited law schools. Visit our survey page to learn more about CSALE's survey. To read the report summarizing the data collected or to request a free customized report on the data visit our survey results page.

CSALE was formed in 2007 with a seed grant from the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education. CSALE's work continues today with support from the University of Michigan Law School, a grant from the Law School Admission Council, and, by necessity, from people like you and Law Schools who believe in the value of CSALE's work. Visit our support page to support CSALE's work. To join the growing list of Gold Circle Institutional Supporters contact CSALE or call CSALE'S President, David Santacroce, at 734.763.4319