Real World Experience


Dear Prospective Student,

I am writing to highlight some of the outstanding opportunities we provide at Thomas Jefferson School of Law ­­­for students who are interested in getting hands-on legal practice experience during their law school careers.


In terms of “in-house” law school clinics, we offer two: the Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic (VLAC), which I direct, and the Small Business Law Center (SBLC). The VLAC is a litigation-oriented program in which students represent struggling veterans in actual cases in areas of law including family law, bankruptcy, offender reentry, veterans’ benefits, and military discharge upgrades. Students are primarily responsible for all phases of their cases, including interviewing clients, drafting pleadings, arguing motions in court, and resolving cases through settlement or trial. 


The SBLC is actually an umbrella entity for four separate clinics that each focus on a different aspect of transactional legal practice. These include: the Non-Profit + Business Law Clinic, which provides legal assistance to eligible nonprofit organizations and small businesses that stimulate economic growth in communities of need; the Arts and Entertainment Law Project, which provides free legal services for low-income artists, actors, dancers, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and related non-profit organizations; the Patent Clinic, which provides inventors with assistance in prosecuting patent applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO); and the Trademark Clinic, which provides free legal services for low-income individuals and organizations desiring to obtain Federal trademarks or service marks from the USPTO. 


The law school also offers an innovative mediation program, with both introductory and advanced course offerings, and opportunities to mediate actual cases in both the Small Claims and Probate Divisions of the San Diego Superior Court.


Finally, Thomas Jefferson offers an extremely wide range of “field placements,” pursuant to which students earn academic credit for working in one of dozens of legal practices including major public law offices such as the District Attorney, Public Defender, and U.S. Attorney’s offices, as well as private law firms in virtually every area of legal practice. The school also offers a Judicial Externship program, pursuant to which students earn academic credit working for judges in both the state and federal court systems at every level.


Thus, students at Thomas Jefferson can obtain “real world” experience in virtually every area of the law imaginable throughout their law school careers. In addition to enriching students’ academic experience, such opportunities give students a head start in both their search for employment, as well as in their future practice careers. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have about our experiential learning programs. I would be happy to talk further by phone (619-961-4205) or by email.


Steve Berenson
Professor of Law
Director, Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic