A NALP survey on law school experiential learning reveals some mixed feelings on the usefulness of skills training.
63.1% of students who participated in a legal clinic found it to be "very useful," compared to 60.1% for externships, and a paltry 38.5% for skills courses. The number of students finding the courses to be not useful at all were 3.9%, 3.9%, and 3.6%, respectively.
This may look like validation of law school clinics. 63.1% say it was very useful, and only 3.9% found it to not be useful at all. But, looking at it another way paints a much less cheery picture: one in three law students did not find their clinic to be very useful.
Being "very useful" should not be the equivalent of the class getting an A. It's a C. It's the minimum level of usefulness a clinic should provide to its students, and it's failing a third of them.
Pro bono work done by law students fared even worse. Only 17% found it to be very useful. The same number found the experience to be of no value at all.
[NALP Survey, gavel wave ABA Journal]