CLEA Outstanding Clinic Student or Team Award and
Outstanding Externship Student Award

The University of California, Irvine School of Law’s 2021 Outstanding Externship student,  Carson Capps21 and his supervisor, Sarah Spinuzzi, Senior Staff Attorney, Orange County Coastkeeper. 

The CLEA Awards Committee is once again soliciting nominations for its student awards. Beginning this year, in addition to the CLEA Outstanding Clinic Student or Outstanding Clinic Team Award, schools can honor students with the CLEA Outstanding Externship Student Award. The addition of the externship-focused award recognizes the valuable work for justice that law students do through externships and provides schools the opportunity to nominate an outstanding and self-reflective externship student for CLEA’s recognition. The awards are given annually at the completion of the academic year. 

Criteria for the CLEA Outstanding Clinic Student or Team Award (One Award Per School) and the CLEA Outstanding Externship Student Award (One Award Per School)

  • Excellence in the field work component of the clinic/externship course determined by the quality of the student’s or team’s performance in assisting or representing individual or organizational clients or in undertaking advocacy or policy reform projects;
  • Excellence in the seminar component of the clinic course or externship determined by the quality of the student’s or team’s thoughtfulness and self-reflection in exploring the legal, ethical, strategic, and other pertinent issues raised in the particular clinic or externship;
  • For the Team award, the ability of the students to engage in effective collaboration; and
  • The nature and extent of the student’s or team’s contribution to the clinical community at the law school, legal community, or broader community, if relevant.

Each school must select one student OR one team enrolled in a law school clinic course. Schools may select one student or one team, but may not submit more than one nomination for the clinic award.

A team may be recognized if students work together as a team and it would be impossible or unfair to single out one team member for recognition. 

For the externship award, each school may select one student enrolled in an externship course. 

Nomination & Selection Process:

Each law school may nominate one clinic award recipient and one externship award recipient. The full-time clinical faculty at each law school with faculty who are members of CLEA are asked to nominate a single student or a team of students from their law school for the clinic award and a single student for the externship award. Recipient students must graduate during or after the academic year in which the award is given. Each school then submits the nominations to the CLEA Awards Committee. 

The nomination deadline is April 28, 2023. Please send nominations to the CLEA Awards Committee via this form

In the form, the clinical faculty of each school will be asked to:  
  • Indicate whether you are completing the form for the clinic student award or the clinic team award or for the externship student award.  
  • For the clinic student award and the externship student award, indicate the name of the student as you would like it to appear on the certificate. For the clinic team award, indicate the names of the students as you would like them to appear on the certificate (separated by commas) or indicate the name of the team as you would like it to appear on the certificate. We appreciate formatting your response to this question in a manner that can easily be copied and pasted into the certificate.  
  • Indicate the name of the law school as you would like it to appear on the certificate.    
  • Provide a brief statement (no more than 250 words) of the reasons why each student or team meets the criteria for the award.  


The CLEA Awards Committee will issue an electronic certificate, and the clinical faculty can print and present the award at the law school’s graduation ceremony or at some other appropriate time, including remotely, as determined by the clinical faculty. Note that, even for the clinic team award, each school will receive one electronic certificate (of which multiple copies can be printed for presentation to the students). Certificates will be issued on a rolling basis (please allow up to one week to receive the electronic certificate).
If you have photographs of the award recipients receiving the certificates, you can send pictures for posting to social media or the CLEA website to the CLEA Communications Committee at

The 2021 award winners have been announced! 


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