Teaching & Learning
Educating legal and other professionals is the heart of UC Hastings Law’s mission.
We’re committed to delivering effective, relevant training—doctrinally strong and pragmatically useful—that equips our students to apply new knowledge and skills immediately upon beginning their careers. We’re also committed to creating intellectual excitement, promoting wide engagement, and inspiring lifelong inquiry.
To those ends, we provide a holistic model of legal education. It emphasizes substantive knowledge and legal analysis while integrating crucial skills such as teamwork and communication. It also recognizes student wellbeing as a priority that deserves strategies and tactics of its own. And it weaves our longstanding commitment to social justice, broadly defined, throughout the rich fabric of a UC Hastings education.
The value of our holistic approach was underscored in 2019, when our first-time bar-passage rate rose dramatically—by 20 percentage points over the previous year—a far higher gain than achieved by any other law school in the state. Our graduates’ 2019 employment rate surged too—a strong sign that employers recognize the strength and relevance of the UC Hastings model.
We emphasize substantive knowledge and legal analysis while integrating crucial skills such as teamwork and communication.
Even as we develop new ways of promoting student success—including visionary curricula in law and technology, health, negotiation, business, and other fields—we continue building on such central strengths as our pioneering clinical education program. Consistently recognized as one of the best in the nation, it provides opportunities for students to represent clients, write and argue motions, mediate disputes, and develop other essential skills. With 16 clinics and four externship programs to choose from, students can experience practice areas as diverse as immigration and refugee rights, environmental law, technology, and community economic development. Besides building skills, our clinics offer students the chance to help people resolve tax problems, housing issues, and other concerns—a powerful expression of our public-service mission.
Internships and externships in the courts and in diverse businesses, government offices, and community organizations also offer real-world legal experience. With more than 200 students participating in such placements each year, UC Hastings is a strong partner in staffing the offices of public, private, and nonprofit enterprises that serve society and advance justice.
Our Moot Court program is another intensive learning forum, in which students analyze complex issues and argue high-stakes appellate cases under considerable pressure. Like their classmates on our Trial and Dispute Resolution teams, they rise to the challenge brilliantly, winning national trophies year after year.
At UC Hastings, we don’t see law school as the final chapter of our students’ education. We see it as the first chapter of their professional careers.
To be a vibrant center of learning with educational practices optimized to promote student success and meaningful career contributions to society
- Provide an innovative teaching program that meets the needs of a new generation of law students who want individualized instruction
- Ensure that our students are well-positioned to secure work in a fast-changing legal services market
- Regularly update curricula to cover new and emerging practice areas and innovative teaching techniques
Meet Some Students
Students across all degree programs share their coolest assignments, keenest interests, and career aspirations.
Meet Some Faculty Members
Professors known for being gifted teachers share their classroom tactics, advice to stressed students, and greatest sources of satisfaction.
Experiential Learning Programs
UC Hastings delivers one of the nation’s top experiential learning programs. Our clinics and externships exemplify the school’s commitment to hands-on education and service to society. Here is a sampling.
Community Group Advocacy & Social Change Lawyering Clinic
To train students to partner with community groups to pursue non-litigation, grassroots paths to social justice.
Helped coalition of Central Valley parents, students, and advocates strategize ways to limit or shape police activity on public school campuses.
Corporate Counsel Externship Program
To enable students to work with in-house attorneys at Bay Area companies to acquire skills in developing and conveying strategic legal advice.
One student gained fashion- and tech-sector experience at Stitch Fix, supporting its business and legal response to the pandemic.
To place students at government and NGO offices to gain hands-on experience while helping site attorneys advance the public interest.
Spring 2020 placements included positions at the Sierra Club, Save the Redwoods League, Earthjustice, and the California Attorney General’s office.
Individual Representation Clinic
To provide students the opportunity to take lead responsibility to litigate cases from initial client interview to court hearing or negotiated settlement.
In the Fall 2019 semester, every student in the clinic argued before a judge—most for the first time.
Judicial Externship Program
To enable students to work on research memos and opinions with federal and state trial judges, appellate court judges, and administrative law judges.
During Spring 2020 semester, a student working in the federal district court drafted over 12 orders for the judge’s signature.
Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic
To provide students with an engaging learning experience while they directly represent low-income taxpayers before federal and state tax agencies.
Helped four unrepresented Tax Court petitioners settle their cases without trial during two Virtual Settlement Days.
Medical Legal Partnership for Seniors Clinic
To train law students to provide wraparound legal services to older adult patients and veterans in partnership with their medical providers.
Helped older veteran stay housed and secure by obtaining VA pension income and discounted utilities and by completing his advance planning.
Refugee & Human Rights Clinic
To train the next generation of refugee and human rights lawyers through hands-on practice representing asylum seekers and conducting human rights fact-finding.
Students won asylum for a Mexican survivor of domestic violence and went to El Salvador to document how its justice system has failed women.
Social Enterprise & Economic Empowerment Clinic
To provide pro bono legal services as outside counsel for social enterprises (nonprofits and for-profit businesses) on corporate and transactional matters.
Drafted the promissory note allowing a client to quickly fundraise an emergency operating reserve account so it could pay salaries and rent during the COVID-19 crisis.
Turbocharging the Engine of Innovation
Startup Legal Garage engages students and lawyers to help launch tech companies
Feldman, Director of the Center for Innovation (C4i), opened the Startup Legal Garage in 2009 with a bold idea: Aspiring tech entrepreneurs could receive free legal help from a pair of law students, supervised by Silicon Valley attorneys who specialize in tech and business law. Since the Garage door opened, its teams have helped launch more than 300 Bay Area and Silicon Valley companies—many of them woman- or minority-owned—advising on crucial startup issues, including entity formation, privacy policies, vendor and employee contracts, and patent analyses.
Besides revving the startup economy, the Startup Legal Garage gives student lawyers nitty-gritty, hands-on experience. It also elevates UC Hastings Law’s profile, earning praise from the American Association of Law Schools as one of the nation’s most innovative programs. That’s a point of pride for Feldman, who works to anticipate—and influence—trends and issues in law and society.
“I like combining deep theoretical knowledge with practical benefits. Our students are really making a difference,” says Feldman, a prolific author and commentator on hot-button topics like drug pricing and artificial intelligence. “And I’ve always liked diving into difficult things that other people shy away from.”
Unanimous Opinion—Moot Court Rules
UC Hastings Law is home to one of the most celebrated moot court programs in the nation
The Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court pondered a brief filed by Marco Ornelas in an urgent case: Had the government acted lawfully in rescinding DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program?
The stakes were very high and very human: The fate of more than 600,000 young immigrants hung in the balance, their U.S. residency jeopardized by the Trump administration’s bid to end their protected status. The administration had failed to offer a reasonable explanation for rescinding the program, Ornelas argued; therefore the rescission was arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful.
Ornelas hasn’t actually weighed in on a Supreme Court case; he’s a UC Hastings student. But he wrote a DACA brief for the Hispanic National Bar Association national moot court competition in early 2020. And that brief was strikingly prescient: Three months later, when Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion in the actual DACA case, his reasoning was virtually identical to Ornelas’.
Ornelas is one of approximately 85 UC Hastings students who hone courtroom skills through moot court training and competition each year—supported by some 40 student coaches and 40 alumni coach volunteers. Currently ranked #2 in the nation, the UC Hastings Moot Court program is a perennial powerhouse that provides a transformative experience to participants. With a 100% post-graduation job-placement record, it’s also a career launch pad for aspiring litigators.
Student Journals: Seven Decades of Scholarship
Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal
Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly
Hastings International and Comparative Law Review
Hastings Journal of Crime and Punishment
Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal
Hastings Science and Technology Law Journal