Experiential Learning

NIU Law offers innovative clinical experiences, externships and practical skills courses and competitions to give you hands-on experience while you’re a law student. These experiences help to create strong, holistically trained lawyers prepared for any practice setting.

  • In law school clinics, students advocate on behalf of real clients under the direct supervision of experienced faculty. The work you do helps to improve the life circumstances of the clients you represent.
  • In the Prisoners' Rights Project, students represent inmates who have federal civil rights claims arising out of prison conditions, giving you the opportunity to workup and try a civil rights case in Federal Court.
  • The personalized externship program gives you the opportunity to earn academic credit while performing real legal work in government and non-profit agencies, judicial chambers and other entities.
  • Practice skills courses and competitions enhance your education by simulating real-world situations you will encounter in legal practice.
  • Pro bono opportunities provide needed services to the community and enable connections to charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and other organizations in the region.

Requirements for Clinics, Externships and the Prisoners' Rights Project

The College of Law requires students to take an experiential learning course of at least 3 credits to graduate. For more information, see graduation requirements.

Enrollment in clinic courses, externships and the Prisoners' Rights Project is by application and requires the permission of the supervising faculty member. 

You may not enroll in more than one practice experience in any given semester. You may not receive credit for a practice experience that is substantially duplicative of a prior practice experience for which you have received credit.

  • Clinics are normally for one semester and are offered for four hours of pass/fail credit.
  • Externships are normally for one semester and are offered for three credit hours. Externships may require concurrent enrollment in a one credit hour classroom component. Externships and the classroom component are graded separately on a pass/fail basis.
  • The Prisoners' Rights Project requires a two-semester commitment beginning in the fall semester and is offered for four hours of pass/fail credit per semester.

Clinic courses and some externship placements require certification as a senior law student pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 711, which permits certified law students to perform designated legal services under the supervision of a member of the Bar of the State of Illinois. To qualify for Rule 711 certification, you must have completed 45 credit hours. Applications for rule 711 certification are available from the Illinois Supreme Court website (PDF).

This is not a complete listing of all requirements. For more information, see the individual programs.