Jason Yackee’s empirical paper, Does Experiential Learning Improve JD Employment Outcomes?, indicates employers care more about a law school’s prestige than any clinical experience it may have imparted into its graduates. We would like to note that the author explicitly states he’s not trying to opine on the actual value of clinical experience, just on how it’s currently perceived by employers.
Do you think employers will eventually warm up to clinical experience or do you think they’re relying too heavily on the judgements of the admissions committees from four years ago? We do have many alumni clients who rave about the clinical experiences they got in law school and we think it makes sense that one day in the not-too-distant future these individuals will be in charge of hiring decisions for their law firms.
If and when those associates with clinical experience outperform their counterparts from higher ranked schools, you will start to see employers put more value into clinical experience. Of course I also expect the top law schools to start offering more clinical experience before employers can come to that conlusion.