How to apply

Application process
Applications are due by noon on April 11, 2021 at the online registration page here.  The Policy Clinic will host several clinic information sessions, all on Zoom:

  • Monday, March 28 — 4:00 pmZoom link
  • Tuesday, March 29 — 4:00 pm — in person — McDonough 342
  • Other dates
    If you cannot attend the dates above, please email to with several times you can meet between April 1st and 8th, and we will arrange an alternate time to talk.

In addition to the standard clinic application, please add the Policy Clinic – Supplemental Application v1, which asks students to rate their interest in project topics. We use the ratings to assign students to a specific policy team in April, so that students will know which team they are on when they accept a position.

Fall and full-year options

Group photo of clinic students at the US Department of Justice

A March 2019 seminar met at the US Dept. of Justice, Environment & Natural Resources Division

Students can enroll the Policy Clinic for two semesters (14 credits, 8 and 6 per semester) or the fall only (8 credits). Students spend an average of 28 hours per week on clinic work in the fall and 22 hours per week in the spring.

Open to 2Ls, 3Ls, evening students
In a typical year, second- and third- year students participate in equal numbers. Evening students find that the clinic is flexible enough to accommodate their work schedules.

Teams and project work

Students in the Policy Clinic practice in one of four teams–climate, health/food, human rights, and trade–and they teach each policy in the seminar. See current teams and projects here …  Our summary of likely projects for academic year 2002-23 is here.

For more information on curriculum, supervision, and recent work, read the most recent Policy Clinic operations guide: 2021-22 Policy clinic operations 8-12-21 v3

Students talking in a policy clinic seminar

Caroline Garth, Emma Light and Alex Love, in a February 2019 seminar at Fenton Communications

Policy skills

Our students acquire flexible lawyering skills to “make” rather than “take” a role in policy projects.  Some legal roles, like litigator, are partially scripted by rules of procedure. A policy lawyer must craft a new role for each project. A client might ask us to draft a bill in Congress, to lobby the state legislature, or to analyze whether a trade treaty is constitutional. We organize our curriculum and grade students in the three most transferable lawyering skills: management and professionalism, analysis and strategy, and communication.

Students talking in a policy clinic seminar

Yifan Zhu and Michael Dohmann, 2019

Management & professionalism
1. “Manage up” to shape expectations.
2. Collaborate effectively.
3. Manage multiple work streams.
4. Evaluate yourself before others do.
5. Manage ethical/value conflicts.

Analysis & strategy
1. Analyze law-making authority.
– Statutory authority
– Preemption and treaty conflict
– Interpretation of statutes and treaties
2. Frame policy choices.
– Identify criteria to choose options.
– Project outcomes and tradeoffs into the future.
3. Develop a strategy.
– Hierarchy of goals, objectives, tasks
– Logical framework model (input/output)
– Theory of change (cause/effect)

Communication – writing & speaking
1. Organize analysis logically.
2. Relate analysis through stories and examples.
3. Show what you mean with pictures, graphs, and logic schemas.
4. Use informative (not advocacy) tone to empower clients.
5. Conclude actively to support client decision-making.