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About the Consumer Law Clinic

Since 1991, the Consumer Law Clinic at the University of Wisconsin Law School has provided legal services to consumers who cannot afford to hire an attorney while educating law students through hands-on training in the dynamic practice of consumer law.  The CLC represents clients in a range of consumer protection issues including fraud and misrepresentation, unfair debt collection practices, consumer credit transactions, abuses by payday lending and rent-to-own companies, and foreclosure resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.  CLC students participate in all aspects of the CLC’s work from assisting clients to advocating for Wisconsin consumers in state and federal policy arenas.

Information for Students

What are students saying about the Consumer Law Clinic?

"...the Consumer Law Clinic experience has by far been my greatest teacher."

"The possibility of representing my client in the courtroom and getting justice served is something that just cannot be beat."

"Throughout my 1L year, I began to lose sight of why I wanted to become a lawyer. Clinic has reaffirmed my reasons. I work directly with clients. I also affect the 'big picture' by participating in the legislative process, increasing access to courts and raising awareness of consumer rights."

What do Consumer Law Clinic students do?

  • Help clients fight unfair debt collection, repossession, fraud and other unscrupulous business practices.
  • Provide limited assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Interview clients and others.
  • Write.
  • Read and apply statutes.
  • Strategize.
  • Work with a team.
  • Learn the “ins and outs” of consumer protection law.
  • Become “mavens” (experts) in consumer protection topics that interest them.
  • Learn to advocate for consumers in policy-making arenas.

Working closely with CLC Director Sarah Orr, students engage in a spectrum of lawyering skills within this dynamic area of the law. Students represent clients from intake to conclusion of their matters, provide limited assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure, 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 sarah.orr@wisc.edu 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.  
  • 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, high-cost credit from payday and online lenders, and foreclosure. Clients receive services from trained law students with close attorney supervision. 

Individuals seeking services can call 608-263-6283.

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;
  • Your car is in danger of being repossessed;
  • You bought something based on misrepresentation or fraud;
  • You think a payday lender, auto-title lender or rent-to-own shop has violated your rights; or
  • You’re being sued or at risk of being sued for foreclosure of your home. 

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' compensation

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