The Cornell Law School First Amendment Clinic provides students interested in the freedoms of speech, press, information, association and religion with firsthand, cutting-edge experience in the field. Students will likely interface directly with clients, witnesses, co-counsel, and opposing counsel. Several Clinic students have argued before courts and have participated in mediations. The Clinic provides an excellent opportunity for students to work on their professional writing skills. Students draft a variety of legal documents, including briefs, complaints, affidavits, press releases, and corporate contracts. Students prepare for oral argument and status conferences and conduct  in-depth policy analysis. All Clinic work is conducted collaboratively in a team-based environment.

The Clinic is known nationally for its exceptional pre-semester Bootcamp, which takes place the Friday and Saturday after the first week of classes.  At Bootcamp, students learn essential components of First Amendment doctrine, as well as hear from clients, co-counsel and practitioners in the field about cutting-edge issues affecting free speech and the free press.  The Bootcamp also provides students to develop relationships with each other to foster a team spirit that is so essential to the Clinic’s success.

The Clinic is lucky to have an illustrious Advisory Committee that provides guidance and direction to Clinic’s activities.  Committee members have been active participants in the Clinic’s programs, including lecturing at Bootcamp, participating in classes, advising on ongoing matters and attending Clinic-sponsored events.  The current Advisory Committee is comprised of Cornell Law School Professors Steven H. Shiffrin, Michael C. Dorf, Nelson Tebbe, James Grimmelmann and Academic Fellow Cortelyou Kenney.

A popular feature of the Clinic is the Newsroom Visits it schedules each semester.  Students have had the opportunity to visit newsrooms at national outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, New Yorker Magazine, Nation Magazine, The Atlantic Magazine; and more local outlets such as The City and WCNY Syracuse.  On these visits, students hear directly from editors, reporters and their newsroom lawyers about how lawyers and journalists work together to publish, post and broadcast essential news to the public.

The Clinic has an active Alumni Network and has worked with former students on important matters with members of that network who are working at private law firms.  One of the Clinic’s goals is to create a national network of former students who are willing, able and trained to work on clinic matters when they arise in their jurisdictions and areas of interest.

The Clinic also brings speakers to the law school and the wider university campus to discuss pressing First Amendment issues.  It traditionally has invited prominent speakers to address domestic issues in the fall semester and more international free press issues in the spring.  Clinic students often have the unique opportunity to meet with these speakers privately or in the classroom setting.