- What is the Clinical Program?
- What is D.C. Law Students in Court?
- What do Clinic students do?
- What kinds of cases will I work on in Clinic?
- Who will my clients be?
- What kinds of experiences will I have?
- How many semesters are required?
- How much of a time commitment is Clinic?
- How long am I responsible for my cases/clients?
- How many credits will I get for being in Clinic?
- How are grades determined?
- Who teaches the Clinic seminars and supervises the student attorneys?
- What is the faculty/student ratio?
- Who may enroll in Clinic?
- Is there an evening Clinic option?
- Can I do more than one clinic (either simultaneously or sequentially), or participate in a clinic during more than one school year?
- Can I do Clinic and an externship at the same time?
- Can I do Clinic and a journal? A job?
- Are there any employers for which I am barred from working while in Clinic?
- How do I apply to Clinic?
- Do I have to fill out the application and submit it all at once?
- When is the application due?
- How will I know that my application was received?
- How are students selected for Clinic?
- What are my chances of getting in if I apply?
- Will indicating a large number of preferences hurt my chances of getting into my first choice clinic?
- When will I find out whether I was selected for a clinic?
- What if I'm not happy with the clinic to which I was assigned?
- How do I accept my spot in Clinic?
- If I wasn't selected, how do I get on the waitlist?
- How does the waitlist work?
- If I accept a Clinic spot, can I change my mind?
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What is the Clinical Program?
The Clinical Program is a public interest law firm operating within WCL. It is comprised of ten separate in-house clinics, which are staffed by student attorneys under faculty supervision, and D.C. Law Students in Court (see below). Clinic students learn vital lawyering skills by representing real clients in a variety of matters and by reflecting on their experiences through seminars, simulation exercises, case rounds, and individual faculty supervision sessions.
What is D.C. Law Students in Court?
D.C. Law Students in Court (LSIC) is a separate organization that began as the first clinical legal educational program in the District of Columbia. 3L students from five area law schools (American University Washington College of Law, The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, George Washington University School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, and Howard University School of Law) are eligible to participate in this program and receive law school credits (10 total credits for WCL students who participate in this year-long program). LSIC represents clients with housing problems in Landlord and Tenant and Small Claims Court in D.C. Participating students handle a caseload with attorney supervision, and they also participate in seminars that help them hone their skills and better understand the elements of successful lawyering. WCL students who wish to participate in LSIC must submit an application through the WCL Clinical Program.
What do Clinic students do?
The Clinic experience has several components: clinic seminars, case work and supervision, and case rounds. Each component of the program reinforces the others. For example, students learn from their case work and from supervisors' guidance, then reinforce the lesson by reflecting on and sharing what they have learned in seminar and case rounds, which informs subsequent case work, both for the original student and for his/her classmates.
What kinds of cases will I work on in Clinic?
This varies widely by clinic. Look at the descriptions of the individual clinics to learn about which kinds of cases they handle.
Who will my clients be?
Our client population varies by clinic. All clinics represent individuals and groups who are “under-represented,” which means that for financial or other reasons, they typically would not be able to obtain counsel.
What kinds of experiences will I have?
This depends somewhat on the clinic in which you participate; however student attorneys function as “real” attorneys for all intents and purposes. They are primarily responsible for their cases, and they do whatever the client's needs require. Examples include filing briefs and making court appearances, representing clients in settlement and business negotiations, and counseling and advising clients.
How many semesters are required?
Some clinics (such as the Civil Advocacy Clinic and the Janet R. Spragens Federal Tax Clinic) are semester-only, with options for Spring or Fall. Other clinics have year-long and semester-long options, based on the clinic's needs in a particular year and the overall preferences of the incoming applicants. The Clinic application will indicate the available options in a given year, and you can indicate your preferences when you apply.
How much of a time commitment is Clinic?
This is difficult to say, because people learn and work at different paces, and some cases take more time and effort than others. There are no set “work hours” during which you are required to be in Clinic; rather, student attorneys are required to put in whatever time is needed to provide high-quality legal representation for our clients.
In very general terms, clinics for day students occupy, on average, approximately 20 hours per week, while clinics for evening students occupy, on average, about 10-12 hours per week. This is a very rough guideline and not in any way a guarantee about your experience. It is also important to realize that fluctuations are the norm – during some weeks, student attorneys may spend 5 hours on client work; during other weeks, they may spend 40 hours or more.
How long am I responsible for my cases/clients?
In general, you are responsible for your cases from the beginning of your Clinic semester or year until the last day of exams for that semester or year. Some student attorneys enrolled in semester clinics opt to stay on and continue their case work during the following semester (for additional field work credit).
How many credits will I get for being in Clinic?
See "Clinic at a Glance" for a summary of credits per semester by clinic.
How are grades determined?
As in any course, the faculty set their own grading standards. Because there is no final exam or paper in Clinic, students are evaluated subjectively based on participation in seminars and related exercises, quality of representation provided to clients, and overall reliability and professionalism.
Who teaches the Clinic seminars and supervises the student attorneys?
A combination of tenure-track faculty, visiting faculty, and “Practitioners-in-Residence” teach the Clinic seminars and supervise the student attorneys. Practitioners-in-Residence are practicing attorneys who receive special appointments to train as clinical teachers. You can look under "Faculty By Clinic " to see the current instructors and link to their faculty profiles.
What is the faculty/student ratio?
In general, most faculty members supervise no more than 8 students.
Who may enroll in Clinic?
Although most clinics can accommodate both 2Ls and 3Ls, preference is generally given to 3Ls during the initial selection process. Some clinics have pre-requisites that make them a better choice for 3Ls, since there are some courses that rising 2Ls will not have had the opportunity to take. However, sometimes rising 2Ls are able to take their pre-requisites over the summer or during the fall semester, so with some planning, it can be done. All students who prefer to do their case work in the District of Columbia, including those who wish to participate in D.C. Law Students in Court, should familiarize themselves with D.C.'s Student Practice Rule so that they can plan to take the necessary courses before they begin participating in Clinic.
Is there an evening Clinic option?
Yes! The Civil Advocacy Clinic has an entire section devoted to evening students, with an evening seminar.
Can I do more than one clinic (either simultaneously or sequentially), or participate in a clinic during more than one school year?
Can I do Clinic and an externship at the same time?
There is no rule against this, but it is generally discouraged, for two primary reasons. First, your externship may cause you to develop a conflict of interest with respect to an ongoing Clinic matter. Second, externships also require a serious time commitment, and most students would not be able to balance an externship and Clinic with an academic courseload.
Can I do Clinic and a journal? A job?
This is a difficult question to answer, because it depends on your particular academic, extracurricular, work, and family demands, as well as your overall energy level and ability to organize and prioritize. Many students are able to balance Clinic with outside activities. Keep in mind that Clinic is a demanding experience, and that you will have the same duty to provide zealous representation to your clients as you will when you are a practicing attorney, and plan accordingly.
Are there any employers for which I am barred from working while in Clinic?
Yes, please see our policy on conflicts of interest. Our "one firm" policy and open-plan student workspace means that you can have an imputed conflict arising from a matter in a clinic other than your own. Although we can often wall off student attorneys from conflicts caused by prior jobs, student attorneys may not participate in Clinic if they are simultaneously working for a firm that represents the adverse party in an ongoing matter in any in-house clinic.
How do I apply to Clinic?
The Clinic has an online application, with instructions. When the application period opens, there will be publicity (events, flyers, announcements), and the application will be posted on our website.
Do I have to fill out the application and submit it all at once?
No, you may save your application in the system and work on it later. Simply click the “Save Application” button at the bottom of the screen.
When is the application due?
The online application is due at 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before Spring Break in any given year.
How will I know that my application was received?
After you click the “Submit” button, you will see a confirmation screen and receive a confirmation e-mail. Be sure to click the “Submit” button when you are ready to submit your application.
How are students selected for Clinic?
The overriding principles of Clinic selection are (a) to accommodate as many graduating students as possible, and (b) to accommodate each student's highest possible preference. That said, different clinics select their students differently. Some clinics select by random lottery; others look for course work, prior experiences, or an essay that expresses an interest in the particular subject matter covered by that clinic.
What are my chances of getting in if I apply?
It depends on how many applications we receive in a given year. We can't guarantee anything, but we try to serve as many students as we can.
Will indicating a large number of preferences hurt my chances of getting into my first choice clinic?
No. Student preferences are given a lot of weight in determining placements, but when a clinic is over-subscribed, some students will necessarily not receive their first choice. If you do not indicate a second, third, or fourth choice, you run a high risk of not getting a placement at all.
When will I find out whether I was selected for a clinic?
We will announce the clinic assignments by early April, before pre-registration begins.
What if I'm not happy with the clinic to which I was assigned?
You may decline your spot. If you wish to wait for an opening in a specific clinic, you can join the waitlist pool. Please be aware that this may mean you will not participate in Clinic that year.
How do I accept my spot in Clinic?
There will be an online form to complete when Clinic placements are announced. Your spot is considered accepted when we receive your acceptance form and your Clinic administrative fee ($60 per semester of participation).
If I wasn't selected, how do I get on the waitlist?
There will be an online waitlist form.
How does the waitlist work?
The waitlist form allows you to indicate all clinics in which you would accept a placement if available. You may indicate clinics that you did not select on your original application form. Strictly speaking, the waitlist is really a pool of available candidates to whom we look when a spot becomes available. None of the clinics have an individual waitlist with a ranking order. Rather, if a spot becomes available, the faculty will make a selection from the remaining interested applicants.
If I accept a Clinic spot, can I change my mind?
You absolutely should NOT accept a Clinic spot with the idea that you can simply drop Clinic like any other class. This wastes a tremendous amount of time and effort by Clinic faculty and staff and often deprives one of your fellow students of the opportunity to be in Clinic. You may only drop Clinic with the permission of the relevant clinic director, which you should only request if you have a very compelling reason, such as an unforeseen medical or family emergency that precludes you from participating. By accepting a spot in Clinic, you are making a commitment that we assume you intend to honor.