Directory

University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law

University of the District of Columbia
David A. Clarke School of Law
Building 38
4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
www.law.udc.edu

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Karen L. Forman
Director, Public Interest & Clinical Prgms
P: (202) 274-7320
kforman@udc.edu

Professor Edgar Cahn, with the assistance of a teaching assistant
E-mail

Category Type

Pro Bono Graduation Requirement Program

Description of Programs

In conjunction with the Law and Justice Course and Community Service Program, first-year students must participate in the Community Service Program. The Law and Justice Course and Community Service Program is a unique part of the first-year experience at the David A. Clarke School of Law. The course is one week long under the direction of Professor Edgar S. Cahn that runs prior to the start of first-year classes. In addition to participating in the classroom portion of the course, first-year students must participate in the Community Service Program, engaging in a minimum of forty hours of pro bono service to the District of Columbia community. Full-time faculty run the program. Faculty advisors develop projects in which the students can participate or approve a student's choice of an independent community service placement or project. The community service work must be legal in nature and in the public interest.

The course introduces students, at the very beginning of their law school experience, to the School of Law's mission of training advocates for justice and providers of legal services for low-income people. It also introduces students to core lawyering competencies of legal analysis, problem solving and professional responsibility. The program raises students' awareness of community needs and facilitates their ability to tackle policy questions and implement strategies to address the problems of disenfranchised people. In addition, students gain information regarding career options and encounter public interest lawyers who may serve as role models. Students are required to submit time sheets and an essay summarizing the community service experience. The program also encourages communication between first-year students and their faculty advisors on community service as well as on academic and many other topics.

The David A. Clarke School of Law's legislative mandate requires that the School of Law train law students through faculty-supervised representation of low-income District residents. Consistent with its mandate, the School of Law strongly emphasizes clinical education and pro bono legal services. Students are required to complete 40 hours of law-related public interest community service and 700 hours in the clinic programs that serve low-income District of Columbia residents. In addition, the School of Law provides summer public interest fellowships to eligible students and offers an internship course which includes placement in public interest, public service, and public policy organizations.

Location of Programs

The programs are part of the curriculum of the law school. Both components, community service and clinics, are required for graduation.

Staffing/Management/Oversight

Full-time faculty oversee the Community Service requirement, and Professor Louise Howells, Clinic Director, provides oversight of the Clinic Program which is taught by full-time faculty.

Funding

The programs are funded through the law school's operating budget.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Students have formed a Chapter of the Innocence Project of the National Capital Region. Its purpose is to seek the exoneration and release from incarceration of persons who have been convicted of crimes they did not commit and who are serving prison terms or awaiting execution of sentences of death in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

In addition to the pro bono legal service work the faculty supervises in the community service and clinical programs, the David A. Clarke School of Law faculty are required to report annually to the Faculty Evaluation, Retention, and Tenure Committee on service to the community. The standard articulated for this service states, "A faculty member is expected to contribute publicly and professionally to the legal profession and the community.... These activities should include pro bono representation, amicus brief preparation, or other uncompensated service in connection with a bar association or other professional, governmental, or community organization over and above a faculty member's regular legal work in the clinic." Selected examples include work on a petition for a writ of certiorari for a defendant sentenced to death, participation in the D.C. Bar's pro bono program for veteran's claims for service-connected disabilities, case work through Legal Counsel for the Elderly for senior citizens, representation of a federal inmate in a First Amendment challenge, mentoring attorneys and paralegals in law firms who provide legal representation through the D.C. Bar pro bono clinic in social security disability and landlord/tenant matters, and filing amicus curiae briefs advocating the rights of persons with disabilities in three ADA cases before the Supreme Court.

Awards/Recognition

The top 6 clinical program students are honored annually and awarded $1,000 at a Kennedy Center program sponsored by Jack Olender, a local attorney and philanthropist.

The School of Law's web site and quarterly newsletter, the ADVOCATE, celebrate and acknowledge individual student pro bono accomplishment. The ADVOCATE is mailed to approximately 6,000 members of the community. See http://www.law.udc.edu

Community Service

In addition to the pro bono legal service work the faculty supervises in the community service and clinical programs, the David A. Clarke School of Law faculty are required to report annually to the Faculty Evaluation, Retention, and Tenure Committee on service to the community. The standard articulated for this service states, "A faculty member is expected to contribute publicly and professionally to the legal profession and the community.... These activities should include pro bono representation, amicus brief preparation, or other uncompensated service in connection with a bar association or other professional, governmental, or community organization over and above a faculty member's regular legal work in the clinic." Selected examples include work on a petition for a writ of certiorari for a defendant sentenced to death, participation in the D.C. Bar's pro bono program for veteran's claims for service-connected disabilities, case work through Legal Counsel for the Elderly for senior citizens, representation of a federal inmate in a First Amendment challenge, mentoring attorneys and paralegals in law firms who provide legal representation through the D.C. Bar pro bono clinic in social security disability and landlord/tenant matters, and filing amicus curiae briefs advocating the rights of persons with disabilities in three ADA cases before the Supreme Court.

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Professor Louise Howells
Clinic Director
University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law
4200 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
E-mail

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

All students are required to complete two 7-credit clinics.

Public Interest Centers

None listed

Public Interest Clinics

The Clinic Program

The objectives of the 700-hour clinic requirement are both educational and service-oriented. The educational objectives are to provide students with a well-rounded legal education by delivering professional skills instruction in a realistic lawyering environment and to provide students with lawyering experience in varied practice settings. The service objective is to provide valuable legal services to economically disadvantaged residents of the District of Columbia in the course of educating students to be lawyers. The School of Law provides millions of dollars worth of free legal services to thousands of low-income residents.

The Community Development Law Clinic and Small Business Law Project engage primarily in transactional law practice, representing for-profit and non-profit businesses. The clinic's clients are community-based non-profit organizations and small business owners. Students in the clinic provide legal services to clients on matters such as contract negotiation and drafting, real estate purchase and finance, regulatory compliance, choice of entity and other organizational decisions, trademark and copyright, directors' and officers' duties and liability, and tax exempt status.

The HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic represents persons infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. Thus, an HIV+ mother may come to the clinic for assistance in obtaining disability benefits for her child who has AIDS. After building a relationship of trust with the lawyers, as well as her case managers trained in social work, a mother will be ready to work on life planning for herself, durable powers of attorney, a will, and a custody arrangement for the care of her child when she dies. A mother also turns to the student lawyers and the clinical supervisors for assistance with legal issues such as job discrimination, housing, special education, consumer problems, child support, and bankruptcy. The HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic collaborates with other UDC-DCSL clinics to provide specialized legal assistance in areas such as housing and special education.

The Housing and Consumer Law Clinic engages primarily in trial and administrative advocacy. Students in the clinic represent individuals and groups in eviction defenses and in cases relating to habitability, illegal rent increases, repairs, predatory loans, fair housing, and miscellaneous torts. Students also represent consumers against merchants in disputes involving sales and services.

Law students and faculty supervisors in the Juvenile Law Clinic primarily represent children and parents or guardians in special education matters. The children who are the subjects of these special education matters are, almost without exception, also the subjects of either delinquency matters or neglect matters. The Juvenile Law Clinic faculty members have pioneered, and continue to develop, a nationally-acclaimed approach to combating delinquency and child neglect by identifying and enforcing special education rights on behalf of those children and their parents/guardians.

The Legislation Clinic presents legislation as a major tool for lawyers seeking to effect legal reform and establish rights for disadvantaged segments of society; and researching, analyzing, drafting, as well as advocating for passage of legislation are important lawyering tasks. As one of its primary goals, the clinic seeks to train students to be knowledgeable and effective advocates in every major phase of legislation on both the national and state/local levels and to enable students to seek law reform through legislative advocacy. In addition, each student is assigned to work on one or more legislative projects consistent with the mission of the School of Law -- either in Congress or the Council of the District of Columbia.

Externships/Internships

The Internship Program

The Internship Program consists of two key components -- a ten-credit internship and a four-credit internship. Students who have completed a minimum of three semesters of law school are eligible to participate.

The Director of the Internship Program, Professor William Robinson, places students with judicial, governmental, or non-profit entities and teaches a weekly tutorial throughout the internship. During recent years, students were placed at or with:

  • D.C. Employment Justice Center
  • Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights Under Law
  • District of Columbia Office Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Office of Corporation Counsel
  • Library of Congress
  • Superior Court
  • United States District Court
  • Office of the Solicitor Department of Labor
  • D.C. Legal Aid
  • Office of Bar Counsel

 

The Director works closely with field placement supervisors to ensure that students receive valuable substantive experience, effective supervision, and appropriate academic evaluation. All placements are located in the District of Columbia metropolitan area, which helps to assure that students receive effective supervision and appropriate evaluation.

Students, during tutorial, examine the broader social, political, economic, and policy-related ramifications of the work they are doing in the field as well as a variety of issues connected with the practice of law, including the role of lawyers in shaping public policy, the practice of public interest law, and the diversity of legal careers. Also, students may not receive a salary, stipend, or other form of compensation from the internship site for the field component.

The School of Law also offers the ten-credit and four-credit internships in the summer. The Summer ten-credit internship is a special emphasis internship called "Civil Rights in the 21st Century."

Wade Henderson, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Professor of Public Interest Law at the School of Law, co-teaches the internship with Professor Robinson. Students are assigned to work at a government agency or non-profit public interest organization with a civil rights focus. Placement sites include:

  • Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights Under Law
  • Leadership Conference for Civil Rights
  • U.S. Civil Rights Commission
  • Civil Rights Section of the Office of the Solicitor in the Department of Labor
  • International Human Rights Group
  • National Women's Law Center
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

 

and other similar organizations and agencies.

Classes with a Public Service Component

In addition to the community service requirement and the two required seven-credit clinics which have a public service component, doctrinal courses such as Tax and Non-Profit Law offer a service component in which enrolled students work with District of Columbia groups on such matters as applications for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status.

Public Interest Journals

None listed

PI Career Support Center

None listed

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

None listed

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

None listed

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

Legal Scholar Awards - Potential to be a legal scholar or an attorney who will use the law as a tool for social justice in the public interest

Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Joseph L Rauh Scholarships - Full DC resident tuition for entering student with the most extensive community service record and full DC resident tuition for the third-year student who received the top grade in her/his second-year clinic.

Mason Civil Rights Scholars - www.law.udc.edu/prospective/finaid_scholarships.html

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

Joseph L. Rauh Equal Justice Works Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program

The UDC David A. Clarke School of Law faculty is committed to preparing students for careers in the public interest, public service, and in public policy reform. Summer jobs are among the most effective training grounds for building student expertise and commitment, making valuable professional contacts, and providing vitally needed legal services to individuals who otherwise could not afford a lawyer. For these reasons, the School of Law funds Summer Public Interest Fellowships for all qualifying first-year students and for as many second-year students as possible. Students receiving the fellowships work full-time, for a minimum of ten weeks in otherwise uncompensated legal work in support of a public interest, governmental or judicial office.

Recent placements include:

 

  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • Manna, Inc.
  • UDC-DCSL/Jubilee Center Immigration Law Project
  • Legal Aid Society
  • Neighborhood Legal Services Program
  • Legal Counsel for the Elderly
  • D.C. Prisoners Legal Services

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

None listed

Student Public Interest Groups

Many of the David A. Clarke School of Law student organizations allow students to contribute directly to the public interest in a wide range of areas and are involved in service projects. A sampling of such student organizations recognized by the School of Law are:

 

  • Black Law Students Association
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • Delta Theta Phi Fraternity
  • International Law Students Association
  • Women's Law Society
  • Jewish Law Student Association
  • Asian Pacific Law Student Association
  • Gay and Lesbian Association of Students
  • Voces Juridicas Latinas Association
  • Equal Justice Works
  • Native American Law Students Association
  • American Constitution Society
  • Christian Law Society
  • Innocence Project

August 6, 2018