Consumer Law Clinic

About the Consumer Law Clinic

The Consumer Law Clinic at the University of Wisconsin Law School has provided legal services to lower income clients while providing law students with hands-on training since 1991.  The CLC represents clients and advocates for Wisconsin consumers in a range of consumer protection issues including fraud and misrepresentation, unfair debt collection practices and abuses by payday lending and rent-to-own companies.  CLC students participate in all aspects of the CLC’s work, from intake to resolution of a client’s matter.  CLC students operate and staff a weekly free drop-in legal clinic for homeowners in foreclosure and pro se litigants in small claims court.  CLC students also advocate for consumers in administrative and legislative arenas at the state and federal levels.  

Information for Students

Working closely with CLC Director Sarah Orr, students engage in a spectrum of lawyering skills within this dynamic area of the law which includes fraud and misrepresentation, unfair debt collection practices and abuses by payday lending and rent-to-own companies.  Students represent clients from intake to conclusion of the case, provide limited assistance at a free drop-in legal clinic to homeowners facing foreclosure and small claims litigants confronting consumer protection issues, and advocate for  Wisconsin consumers in administrative and legislative arenas.  Students study a broad syllabus of consumer law, with an emphasis on how the law affects people in our community.   Students who are interested in the CLC can contact Sarah Orr at or (608) 890-2454.

Notable Work

  • An amicus curaie ("friend of the court") brief to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals on the importance of the right to sue for illegal repairs by a car dealership.
  • Class actions on behalf of Wisconsin residents who entered into loan contracts with internet payday lending companies.  
  • A class action against a credit card company that resulted in a Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision striking down a mandatory arbitration clause as unconscionable.
  • A lawsuit filed on behalf of a retiree who was the target of illegal debt collection by an installment loan company.
  • A lawsuit filed on behalf of several Latino consumers in Dane County victimized by a California company fraudulently promising them careers as licensed auto mechanics.
  • A lawsuit filed on behalf of an elderly widow challenging false advertising and fraudulent marketing tactics by a credit card company.
  • Several class actions on behalf of consumers who entered into payday loan contracts with interest rates exceeding 500%.
  • A statewide class action challenging a variety of false and deceptive practices by a company that sells timeshares in the Wisconsin Dells.
  • Legislative advocacy on Wisconsin's Lemon Law, the Wisconsin Consumer Act, including its fee-shifting provision, and proposals on payday lending and rent-to-own.

Information for the Public

The Consumer Law Clinic (CLC) provides assistance and information to Wisconsin consumers with legal problems involving businesses such as debt collection, repossession, fraud and misrepresentation, unfair business practices and high-cost credit from payday and online lenders. Clients receive services from trained law students with close attorney supervision. 

Individuals seeking services can call (608) 263-6283 or visit the CLC's community intake on Tuesdays, 9:00 - 11:00 AM at the Dane County Courthouse, 215 S. Hamilton Street, Room L1000 in Madison. No appointment is necessary, but individuals should bring all papers related to their questions. 

CLC can help with these types of problems:

  • You're being sued for a debt you don't recognize;
  • Your earnings are being garnished by a creditor;
  • A debt collector is threatening or harassing you;
  • You bought something based on misrepresentation or fraud;
  • You received a foreclosure lawsuit and want to know your options; or
  • You think a payday lender, auto-title lender or rent-to-own shop has violated your rights.

CLC cannot help you with:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Criminal Law
  • Employment Law
  • Family Law
  • Faulty products
  • General civil cases, such as disputes between private parties
  • Housing
  • Immigration
  • Insurance denials
  • Personal injury
  • Public Benefits
  • Traffic Tickets
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Workers' compendation

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