Loyola University Chicago

Civitas ChildLaw Center

School of Law

Experiential Learning Opportunities


Clinics, Externships, Internships, Practica and Simulated Learning

Experiential learning refers to the process of learning from direct experience. Loyola JD and LLM students have a diverse and enriching set of experiential learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. A hallmark of experiential learning is that it enables students to integrate their formal legal training into settings where they learn first-hand the practical aspects of working as an attorney. Experiential learning courses also provide excellent networking opportunities and are useful in helping students shape their career goals. Practical training is of particular importance to child and family law students given the developmental status of children, their unique legal needs, and their role within a larger family and community context. Click here for information on Loyola’s experiential learning requirements.

In-House Clinics
Loyola’s ChildLaw Center houses two “in-house” clinics, one focused on the direct representation of child clients and the other geared toward policy and legislative initiatives on behalf of children and families. In each clinic, students work on “real-life” issues under the direct supervision of experienced and highly skilled clinical faculty. Click here for additional information on the Center’s two in-house clinics, the Civitas ChildLaw Clinic, and the ChildLaw Policy and Legislation Clinic.

At Loyola, the concept of externships refers to a formal program of study in which upper division full and part-time students earn credit and receive practical legal experience under the coordinated supervision of a practicing attorney or judge and a lawyer from the School of Law. In addition to their on-site responsibilities, students enroll in an externship class. Several approved externship sites focus on child client representation, policy advocacy and/or judicial clerkship opportunities. JD students wishing to earn course credit for a child and family law externship must register for the ChildLaw Externship course through Loyola’s Externship Program.

Additional information on Loyola’s externship program is available here. The Externship Program is administered by Josie Gough, Director of Experiential Learning, who can be reached at jgough@luc.edu.

Internships are similar to externships in that they refer to “hands-on” educational opportunities that take place in legal and other settings outside the law school. Typically, however, they are not part of a formal law school course. Depending on the internship placement, students may receive credit, pay, or fellowship support for their internship. They may also develop practical skills through participation in extracurricular activities or by volunteering. Internships may be completed during the academic year and/or summer. The ChildLaw Center maintains an extensive list of local, national and international internship sites for students interested in child and family law. These are also listed in the ChildLaw Resource Guide Series, available here.  

Practica and Simulated Learning

Students may receive practical training experience by enrolling in courses taught by Loyola faculty which have a “real-life” or simulated practicum component in which students “learn by doing.” The Education Law Practicum, for example, is a hybrid model in which students gain “real-life” experience through field placements while receiving support and feedback in a faculty-led course that meets on a regular basis. The Family Law Practicum is a simulated model in which students receive additional credit for participation in a classroom exercise focused on skills development in areas such as drafting and negotiation. The Child and Family Law Mediation course introduces students to the theory and practice of mediation and includes a series of mediation exercises focused on resolving disputes in matters involving children and families.

Trial Practice and Moot Court 
Students enrolled in Loyola’s intensive ChildLaw Trial Practice course learn effective courtroom advocacy skills taught by faculty and practicing attorneys with extensive child and family law experience. Students may sharpen their legal research, writing and advocacy skills through participation in the National Child Welfare and Adoption Law Moot Court Competition or by enrollment in a specialized upper-division advocacy course.