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. Located at the University of Michigan Law School, since 2007 CSALE has collected 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. Ninety-five percent of ABA accredited law schools participated in CSALE’s most recent survey. Law schools, legal educators, scholars and governmental agencies examining or navigating issues in these areas have repeatedly relied on CSALE's data for more than a decade.
CSALE was formed in 2007 with a seed grant from the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education. CSALE's work continues today with continuing support from the University of Michigan Law School, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, the Law School Admission Council, and, by necessity, from people like you and Law Schools who believe in the value of CSALE's work. To join the growing list of Gold Circle Institutional Supporters, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (734)763-4319.
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 premise 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 107 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 licensed 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.
Since its modern "re-birth" in the late 1960's, applied legal education has taken a firm hold in the American legal academy. The American Bar Association now mandates that every law school offer its students "substantial opportunities for… live-client or other real-life practice experiences… designed to encourage reflection by students on their experiences and on the values and responsibilities of the legal profession… " The ABA also closely regulates both clinical and field placement programs.
Despite its proliferation, until CSALE's formation, there was little empirical analysis of applied legal education. Program design, administration, funding, pedagogy, and the role of applied legal education and educators in the academy were, as an empirical matter, largely unknown. Scholars writing in and about the field had nowhere to turn for empirical evidence. The lack of data also hindered innovation and advancement because educators charting the course and texture of applied legal education in their home institutions had no concrete models from which to work. Since 2007 CSALE has been dedicated to filling this empirical void and, with its triennial survey cycle, creating a statistically sound picture of the evolution of applied legal education over time.
Launched in September of 2022, CSALE’s 6th Triennal Survey of Applied Legal Education closed in the Spring of 2023. Ninety six percent of ABA-accredited law schools participated. You can view summary results in our report found in the results section below. You can view a copy of the Master Survey that each school fills out it here. Our sub-survey of individual clinics, externships, and those teaching in them can be found here. Our honor roll of participating law schools appears at the end of our report with summary results.
CSALE has conducted its Survey of Applied Legal Education every three years since 2007. The survey now consists of two primary parts: the Master Survey and the Sub-Surveys. The Master Survey gathers demographic information about each school and provides an overview of its applied legal education programs and insight into hiring and retention practices for applied legal educators. The Master Survey is also the vehicle through which the Sub-Surveys are electronically assigned to, predominantly, persons teaching full-time in a law clinic or field placement program.
The Faculty Sub-Survey is a short, anonymous survey that captures biographical information about the respondent (race, gender, years teaching, etc.). It also collects the defining characteristics of the respondent's employment, including, among other things: the nature of employment relationship; promotion and retention standards; compensation; supervision ratios; voting rights; committee participation; and support by and rights within his or her institution. Respondents who direct a law clinic or field placement also answer a series of targeted questions about how their courses are, among other things, designed, staffed, taught and graded.
CSALE's data is collected exclusively on-line. An invitation to complete the Master Survey is sent to the person at every ABA accredited law school in the country with primary responsibility for, or considerable knowledge of, the applied legal education programs at his or her school. That person is responsible for assigning the Faculty Sub-Surveys. CSALE remotely monitors the progress on all invited Master and Sub Surveys and periodically sends reminders to invitees who have not yet participated.
CSALE'S sixth TRIENNIAL SURVEY WAS COMPLETED IN 2023 WITH 96% OF ABA ACCREDITED LAW SCHOOLS PARTICIPATING.
CSALE makes its data available at no cost in two ways. First, the results of each triennial national survey are provided in a detailed report at the end of every survey cycle. You can download the report on each survey above. Second, CSALE works with end users to help shape their inquiry and then generates customized reports cross-tabulating various aspects of the data. More than 80% of US Law Schools have relied upon such reports in making decisions about their applied legal education offerings.
To make such a request, please view the Report for the year from which you would like to receive data and identify by section and question number the various data points you’re interested in. Then contact us with the relevant information to make your request. If you would like guidance in formulating your request or on program design and staffing issues, please contact us to arrange a brief free consultation. Finally, note that: (1) limited salary and compensation data (in a format that does not reveal participants' identities) is available subject to certain limitations to protect participants’ identities; (2) there are some limitations on the breadth of a request that we will raise in the very atypical situation where a request exceeds those limitations; and (3) all consultations and data reports are strictly confidential between CSALE and the recipient.
As part of each Survey, CSALE asks participants to submit their promotion and retention standards for professors teaching in clinics and externships. CSALE maintains a public database of these standards that is organized into four folders based on the type of employment “track” potentially leading to long term job security such professors are hired into. These tracks are: 1) clinical contract track (“CC”); 2) tenure and clinical tenure tracks (“TT” and “CTT”); 3) tenure and contract tracks; and 4) a mix of all three. Note that the year in the file name is the year that the standards were submitted to CSALE and not necessarily the year that the standards were adopted at a particular school. To access the standards click here. In the linked folder you will find a document listing all the schools in the various sub-folders. Finally, if you would like to add your school's standards to the list, simply attach them to an email to email@example.com.
The data CSALE collects is available free of charge for non-commercial use by scholars, law schools and legal educators. CSALE's continued existence –and its ability to track changes in applied legal education over time – is entirely dependent on the generosity of others. CSALE is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization: your contribution is tax deductible. To make a secure credit card donation via PayPal (no account required), click the donate button below and be sure to fill in and "update" your donation amount before entering your credit card information. For information on becoming a Gold Circle Institutional Supporter, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (734) 763-4319.Support our work
AALS Section of Clincal Legal Education
Association of Legal Writing Directors
Clinical Legal Education Association
Law School Admission Council
National Archive of Clinical Legal Education
Society of American Law Teachers
University of Michigan's Center for Statistical Consultation and Research
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