In the Law School’s experiential learning programs, students earn course credit for doing actual lawyering work, either for real clients or in simulated settings. The Law School provides several types of experiential learning to students, including a variety of “live-client” clinical programs; several externship programs; and the Lawyering Skills Program.
The Law School’s “live-client” clinical opportunities—so called because students interview, counsel, and sometimes represent actual clients—are among the most extensive in the country. The Frank J. Remington Center houses six live-client clinical projects focusing on the area of criminal justice: the Legal Assistance to Institutionalized Persons Project (LAIP); the Oxford Federal Project; the Wisconsin Innocence Project; the Family Law Project; the Restorative Justice Project; and the Criminal Appeals Project.
The Law School also provides live-client clinical opportunities in the civil arena. The Remington Center’s Economic Justice Clinic (EJI), comprises the Consumer Law Litigation Clinic, the Family Court Assistance Project (FCAP), the Neighborhood Law Project, and the Domestic Violence Immigration Clinic. EJI focuses on involving students in economic justice issues through individual and class-action litigation, economic development, and community education. The Center for Patient Partnerships offers law students the opportunity to work with students from the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Social Work in advising patients on issues involving their health care. In addition, the Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic (L&E) provides second and third year students the opportunity to provide legal services to nascent entrepreneurs under the supervision of qualified attorneys. Student attorneys provide legal services on a variety of issues including business formation, employment matters, intellectual property, contracts, terms and conditions and other legal issues confronting start-up businesses. Permission of the instructors is required for eligibility.
In all the live-client clinics, students’ work with clients is closely supervised by clinical faculty members. The clinical work is generally accompanied by a classroom component focusing on attorney-client relations, as well as substantive and procedural law.
In externship programs (sometimes called “internship programs”), students receive course credit for working in an off-campus legal setting, such as a judge’s office or a state agency, under the supervision of an on-site attorney. To ensure the educational value of the externship, a classroom component usually accompanies the experience.
Externships include, for example, the Judicial Internship Program, which provides students with semester-long placements in the offices of judges at all levels; and the Wisconsin Department of Justice Clinical Externship Program, which places students in various civil units of the Wisconsin Department of Justice. The Remington Center also offers the Prosecution Project, the Public Defender Project, and the Hayes Police-Prosecution Internship. In all three of these projects, students are placed for 10-week summer sessions in district attorney, public defender, and law enforcement offices throughout Wisconsin. There are also externships in civil rights, labor law, and health care.
In the Fall Term of 2011, a new Law Externship Clinical program began, enabling students to apply for a broader range of potential externship opportunities and, if approved by the Law School, receive appropriate academic credit for participation. The point of contact for this initiative is Externship Director Jane Heymann, Room 5103. Additional information about this program can be found at http://www.law.wisc.edu/academics/externships/index.html.
13.3 The Pro Bono Program
The Pro Bono Program provides students with opportunities to deliver
law-related services to underrepresented community members. Students
are assisted and supported by Pro Bono Program staff with placements in
private and nonprofit law firms, legal aid groups, in-house programs and
other organizations, where their pro bono work is performed under
appropriate supervision. In keeping with the law school's law-in-action
tradition, students develop legal and professional skills, gain
practical, hands-on experience in real work environments and explore
their ethical responsibility to provide pro bono service.
Students who graduate in 2014 or later and complete a minimum of fifty hours of pro bono services will be inducted into the Pro Bono Society and graduate with pro bono distinction. Students who graduate in December 2011, 2012 or 2013 are eligible to graduate as members of the Pro Bono Society if they complete a prorated number of service hours.
13.4 The Lawyering Skills Program
The Lawyering Skills Program differs from the other clinical programs at the Law School in that it employs the use of simulation exercises, many of which are taught by practicing lawyers, to provide students with the opportunity to integrate what students have learned throughout law school to the core skills needed for effective law practice. The Lawyering Skills course is open to third-year students, and emphasizes the skills that they will need in the early years of practice.
All clinical and skills programs at the Law School are governed by Rule 3.14 of the Law School Rules.
Who can enroll in clinical programs, and when?
Clinical programs are available to students in their second and third years of law school. Some programs, such as LAIP, target students who are entering the summer after their first year. Other programs, such as the Lawyering Skills Course, focus on third-year students. The clinics vary in their timing and duration. Some require only a one-semester commitment. Others require a fall-spring commitment or full-year commitment. Still others are available as stand-alone summer programs. Finally, clinics may require a prerequisite course (such as Evidence) before students can enroll, and most require that students take a classroom component, as well as a clinical component, during the clinical experience.
How do students enroll in clinical programs?
Most clinics are “consent of instructor” courses; that is, they do not have open enrollment, but instead require students to apply and be accepted into the clinic. The clinics provide information on how to apply, at “clinic fairs” which take place once each semester in the atrium. In addition, the contact persons listed on the clinic Web pages will provide information on how to apply.
Where do students work if they are enrolled in clinical programs?
That depends on the program. All of the Law School’s live-client clinics are housed in the Law School, and the students do the bulk of their work in the clinic offices. But they may travel to meet clients outside of Madison (e.g. LAIP clients are incarcerated around Wisconsin), or in Madison (e.g. the Neighborhood Law Project maintains offices on the south side of Madison, where students staff office hours). Students enrolled in externship programs will work in offices all around Wisconsin.
Do students enrolled in clinics get to appear in court?
Student activities in law school clinical programs are governed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Under SCR 50, students who have earned 45 credits can appear in court on behalf of clients, as long as they are accompanied by a supervising attorney.
How many credits do students receive for their clinical work? Is it graded?
For the clinical component of their experience, Law School Rule 3.14(5) requires a student to perform a minimum of 45 hours of work per semester per credit (assuming a 15-week semester, that comes out to a minimum of 3 hours per credit per week). Thus, the number of credits will vary, depending on how many hours of work a given clinical program requires for enrollment. The clinical work is generally graded as Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. The classroom component of the students’ experience will generally involved 1-3 credits, and can be graded on a Satisfactory-Unsatisfactory, or letter-grade basis.
Do clinical course credits apply toward Law School graduation requirements?
Yes. All credits earned in clinics, whether for the clinical or classroom component of the students’ work, apply toward the 90 credits required for graduation. In addition, a maximum of five clinical credits may be applied toward the 60-credit diploma privilege requirement. Separate from the clinical component, the classroom component of many clinical programs may apply toward the 60-credit rule. Students should contact the instructor(s) of each clinic they are interested in, to determine the exact title of classroom courses that accompany the clinical work.
Can students create their own Clinical Program?
Clinical courses are governed by Law School Rule 3.14. Students are not free to “construct their own” clinical program or receive academic credit for any internship or externship that has not been approved by the Law School. However, students can seek to have a potential externship opportunity approved by the Law School and, if accepted, receive appropriate academic credit. If interested, contact Externship Director Jane Heymann, Room 5103.
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