In 2010 Stanford Law School invited us to help establish a Religious Liberty Clinic as an integral part of its curriculum. Stanford clinics are among the best in the nation, and take a cutting-edge approach: full-time engagement with dedicated faculty directors. Students can apply for one of eleven clinics in a quarter. They then spend that entire term litigating actual cases for real clients.
The Religious Liberty Clinic is thriving, with full enrollment and active support from the university and key players in the field. It has been profiled by media outlets like The New York Times and is earning a reputation as a leading voice for religious liberty in legal education.
Director Jim Sonne has taught, supervised, and led the litigation efforts of clinic students for law school credit. The former pilot program has now become a staple of the course offerings students expect. Applications have outpaced available spots for two consecutive years, and students rave about the experience. Stanford has actively and successfully used the clinic to recruit students and donors to the law school.
The clinic provides an alternative perspective from the ideology that pervades many law school campuses. It also offers a competitive advantage for Stanford, as the first to have such a clinic. The Clinic is already being modeled by UCLA - where First Amendment expert Eugene Volokh recently started a First Amendment Clinic—and the University of Saint Thomas—where religious liberty scholar Tom Berg started and amicus clinic related to religious liberty.