Community Law Clinic: Clinical Methods
The CLC is the closest thing to a general legal services office among Stanford's clinical offerings. Based in East Palo Alto, the CLC provides students with the opportunity to provide direct legal services to low-income residents, while thinking critically about the role of lawyers and lawyering in addressing the problems of America's so-called "working poor." The Clinic's practice is in four areas: (1) housing (eviction defense and Section 8 termination); (2) wage and hour and related workers' rights; (3) social security and disability benefits; and (4) criminal record expungement. Each student handles his or her own caseload, which is comprised of cases matters in all of the practice areas. The practice areas are selected and designed to lie at the intersection where the community's unmet legal needs and students' learning needs correspond. The clinic's docket is fundamentally a trial docket. Students have first-chair responsibility for their cases, and perform all of the lawyering tasks necessary to advance their clients' interests, including interviewing, counseling, negotiation, fact investigation, legal research, and representation in the court and agency settings that hear the clients' cases. Skills emphasized include those trial lawyering skills, as well as time management and developing client-centered lawyering practices. Students may also have the chance to participate in outreach or policy-level projects, such as representing the clinic on a state or regional committee on a substantive issue, doing community education workshops at sites around the Peninsula, and/or legislative research and advocacy. In the clinic seminar and in regular supervision, students are encouraged to interrogate the effectiveness of the legal system at delivering "justice" for their clients and to explore creative ways that legal knowledge can be deployed to attack the social problems attendant to low wages, substandard and unstable housing, and other features of low-income life in Silicon Valley. Special Instructions: General Structure of Clinical Courses -- The Law School's clinical courses are offered on a full-time basis for 12 credits. This allows students to immerse themselves in the professional experience without the need to balance clinical projects with other classes, exams and papers. Students enrolled in a clinic are not permitted to enroll in any other classes, seminars, directed research or other credit-yielding activities within the Law School or University during the quarter in which they are enrolled in a clinic. Nor are they allowed to serve as teaching assistants who are expected to attend a class on a regular basis. There is a limited exception for joint degree students who are required to take specific courses each quarter and who would be foreclosed from ever taking a clinic unless allowed to co-register. These exceptions are approved on a case-by-case basis. Clinic students are expected to work in their clinical office during most business hours Monday through Friday. Students are also expected to be available by e-mail or cell phone when elsewhere during those hours. Because students have no other courses (and hence no exams or papers), the clinical quarter begins the first day of classes and runs through the final day of the examination period. Students should not plan personal travel during the Monday to Friday work week without prior authorization from the clinical supervisor. The work during a typical week in a clinic is divided into three components. First, as they are for practicing attorneys, most of the hours of any week are taken up by work on client matters or case work (this time includes meetings with instructors to discuss the work). Again, as is the case for practicing lawyers, in some weeks these responsibilities demand time above and beyond "normal business hours." Second, students will spend approximately five-to-seven hours per week preparing for and participating in weekly discussions or other group work in their individual clinic (scheduling varies by clinic). Third over the course of the quarter each clinic student (with the exception of those enrolled in the Criminal Prosecution Clinic) is required to prepare for and attend four or five inter-clinic group sessions. Students will be awarded three separate grades for their clinical quarter, each reflecting four credits. The three grades are broken into the following categories: clinical practice; clinical methods; and clinical coursework. Grading is pursuant to the H/P system. Enrollment in a clinic is binding; once selected into a clinic to which he or she has applied, a student may not later drop the course except in limited and exceptional cases. Requests for withdrawal are processed through the formal petition and clinical faculty review process described in the clinic policy document posted on the SLS website. Students may not enroll in any clinic (full-time or advanced) which would result in them earning more than 27 clinical credits during their law school career. The rules described here do not apply to advanced clinics for students who are continuing with a clinic in which they were previously enrolled. For information about advanced clinics, please see the course descriptions for those courses. For more information about clinic enrollment and operations, please see the clinic policy document posted on the SLS website. Elements used in grading: Clinical case/project work, seminar preparation and participation, attendance, reflection papers and project. Writing (W) credit is for students entering prior to Autumn 2012.
Instructors for this course (Past and Present)Lisa Douglass
Juliet M. Brodie