Over 100 students take part in the Remington Center clinical programs each year. This number includes the majority of the students who start year-long clinicals during the summer, as well as the students whose clinics operate only in the summer or only during the school year. All programs require a student to have successfully completed at least the first year of law school. It is recommended, but not required, that students take Introduction to Criminal Procedure prior to beginning a clinical program; completion of this course prior to an externship is required for students enrolling in the Prosecution Project and the Public Defender Project.
Remington Center students perform a wide variety of legal work, from the mundane of document review and transcript digesting, to the challenges of brief writing, the apprehension of interviewing inmates, the excitement of arguing in a contested hearing where a person’s liberty is at stake, and the fulfillment of facilitating a victim-offender dialog. Students work on real cases with real clients and with real consequences. But they also work in an environment where they can safely make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. All student work is closely supervised by experienced attorneys who provide guidance, encouragement, and correction when needed.
In addition to applying substantive law to their cases, students learn the complexities of actual law practice including time management, how to interview, how to handle angry clients and uncooperative opposing attorneys, and the importance of preparation and attitude in the courtroom. Many students who have found the study of theoretical law frustrating, find a renewed interest in the law when they see the theoretical principles they have learned in the classroom applied to real situations. The clinical programs also ask students to think broadly about the criminal justice system they are working within – why the system is as it is, and how it can realistically be improved.
Students often find their clinical experiences to be the most rewarding of Law School experiences:
- "I think every law student should be required to do a clinical....Participating in this clinic reminded me that going to law school is about helping people." Remington Center student, 2013-14.
- "I did not know that my year-long experience in the [Remington Center] would provide the anchor--the real knowledge and real skills--that I would apply every day, allowing me to be immediately valuable to the firm at which I worked and to enhance my own self-image." 2007 Law School graduate
- "After one year of law school, I understood what a few legal words meant, how to read the law, and how to write to a professor. After just three months [at the Remington Center], I've learned how to apply the law, how to explain complex legal concepts to lay persons, and how to write to various audiences. The skills that I've developed while working with clients are invaluable. From interviewing, to writing and sending letters or motions, to researching an issue never before encountered, [the Remington Center] provided me with the tools to figure out how to do a job, and the support system and supervision to get it done correctly." Remington Center student, 2014-15.
- I have no doubt that the [Remington Center] will have been the single most impactful thing I participated in during my three years in law school. The program helps you develop crucial attorney-client skills that you simply cannot practice in a typical clerkship, and it teaches you to look at the entire legal system from multiple perspectives. You really have no idea how much any one client will impact your life, or how much of a difference you can make until you experience the project yourself." Remington Center student, 2012-13.
- This experience was amazing in so many ways. I am grateful to the [Remington Center]. This experience taught me to be a critical thinker, it taught me about the importance of investigating my cases, and what that meant for those involved. I particularly enjoyed the investigation side (meeting witnesses, walking around the neighborhoods where the crimes we were investigating had occurred, talking to the police, etc.) and the client contact." Remington Center student, 2012-13.
Remington Center Student Awards
Every spring, as part of the Law School's Spring Honors and Awards program, the Remington Center presents two awards to outstanding clinical students.
The first award was established by the family of the late attorney Melvin Friedman. At the request of his family, the Melvin Friedman Memorial Scholarship honors a student who has done outstanding work in the Wisconsin Innocence Project.
The second award is the Catherine Manning Memorial Award. Catherine Manning was a clinical instructor in LAIP during 1988-89, who was tragically killed in a car crash. In her memory, the program established the Catherine Manning Award, which honors one or two students each year who have done outstanding work in a prison project, other than the Wisconsin Innocence Project. A plaque listing the names of Catherine Manning Award winners since 1989 is proudly displayed in the Remington Center suite. For the Remington Center's clinical faculty, both of these awards carry a great deal of meaning.