While all law schools attempt to increase clinic, externship and simulation offerings, UMKC Law has continually made strides to improve the experiential learning for students. These opportunities better prepare students to hit the ground running upon graduation. By providing practical training opportunities, UMKC Law allows students to experience the rewards of helping others, especially those with limited means, and show them that they will have impact as future attorneys.
Students do more than argue in front of moot court: they handle real cases, real clients. They are led to competitions by professors like S. Rafe Foreman and Michaelle Tobin; they file, research, build cases, and negotiate. With UMKC’s close relationship with the bench and bar in the area, students also have numerous externship opportunities, and about half of all students take advantage of these opportunities. Externships place students with state and federal judges and agencies, in public defender offices, and in law offices providing legal services to low income individuals.
In addition, the law school has its own Pro Bono/Public Service Program, administered by Shannon O’Bryan, which instills a sense of civic responsibility in students and allows them to earn public service hours during their time in law school. Although students can earn hours volunteering for a number of projects, many complete hours by working in externships or work completely pro bono at internships with government entities. Once they reach 200 hours, students receive cords at graduation for their efforts. More often than not, the Program’s students exceed that requirement.
UMKC Law also has on-campus clinics for the applied learning experience: the Kansas City Tax Clinic and the Entrepreneurial Legal Services Clinic. In the tax clinic, students handle entitlement to dependents and the associated earning income tax credit, alleged unreported income, and alleged income from cancellation of debt or substantiation. In the Entrepreneurial Legal Services clinic, students handle choice of entity analysis for start-up companies, document preparation, contract review and preparation, nonprofit formation and tax-exempt applications, and much more.
Coming into 12th place on the list, UMKC Law received an A for their practical training opportunities. The National Jurist awarded A- or higher to 25 schools, including 11 that received an A+. The rankings appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of the magazine.
You can also find the press release about the honor roll here.