Clinical Legal Education integrates theory and practice. Clinic students actively assume the role of practicing attorney engaging in and learning from lawyering activities. Students learn lawyering skills and immediately apply theories about lawyering as they plan for, engage in, and reflect upon their practice. In consultation with faculty members and experienced supervising attorneys, students bear primary responsibility for identifying issues, making decisions, and solving problems with their clients. In clinics, students work on policy, legislative, transactional, or litigation matters on behalf of individual or institutional clients.
Students represent individual clients on an entire case – from initial interview through final administrative hearing or court trial. Working in partnership with another student, students have lead responsibility for cases in the areas of employment and health. Students engage in client interviews, fact investigation, client counseling, theory of the case development, written advocacy, and oral advocacy.
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In this clinic, students serve as legal counsel to Tenderloin neighborhood organizations and citywide advocacy groups on policy advocacy around land use and community development issues impacting the Tenderloin, nearby neighborhoods, and other low- and moderate-income communities in San Francisco. Past projects have included representing a broad community/labor coalition to secure extensive and innovative community benefits from the construction of a new hospital adjoining the Tenderloin, drafting legislation to encourage a balance in the construction of new market-rate and affordable housing, and participating in the revision of City procedures for environmental impact reports. Students interview clients, do extensive legal and factual research, attend and sometimes present at community meetings, advise clients, draft legal memos, position papers, legislation, and community education materials.
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Students work with attorneys at Bay Area public interest organizations to collaborate with grassroots community groups pursuing systemic change across a broad spectrum of legal areas. Students engage in a range of persuasive strategies, including administrative advocacy, community legal education, legislative drafting and grassroots lobbying, and community organizing and mobilizing. In addition to refining their vision of the sort of social-change lawyer they aim to become, students develop skills in complex strategic planning, facilitation of community meetings, and presentations to public bodies.
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Criminal Practice Clinic students work in selected Bay Area prosecutors' and public defenders' offices where, under careful supervision, they engage in client and witness interviews, case planning and investigation, plea negotiations, motion practice, and witness examinations during evidentiary hearings and trials.
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Students in the Environmental Law Clinic are placed with nonprofit environmental groups and governmental agencies to gain hands-on experience in environmental practice. This experience includes legal research, drafting memoranda and briefs, working with experts from other fields, distilling complex scientific data, dealing with problems of proof, seeking or preventing regulatory approvals, and participating in the presentation of cases and arguments in court and before administrative agencies.
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Immigrants' Rights Clinic students work directly with clients facing immigration issues including defense against removal proceedings, seeking political asylum, and pursuing U.S. citizenship. Students may handle adversarial hearings before immigration judges and participate in policy reform projects on immigration and refugee issues.
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Lawyers for America (“LfA”) is a two-year fellowship program, designed to meet the growing demand for study that integrates doctrinal and practical knowledge, improves employment prospects for law graduates, and closes the justice gap. The first (3L) year of LfA consists of a closely supervised, essentially full-time, full-academic-year externship, complemented each semester by four classroom units. After completing their 3L year, fellows take the summer off to study for and take the California Bar. They then return to the same externship placement sites for a second year, as exceptionally well-trained, acculturated first year associates. 2014-2015 placements include: Center for Biological Diversity; Contra Costa Public Defender; First District Appellate Project; Contra Costa Superior Court; and Berkeley City Attorney.
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Students in the Legislation Clinic learn about the role of lawyers in the legislative process by spending a semester in Sacramento, working for a legislative committee, a legislator, or another public entity involved with the legislative process. In the past, interns have been placed with such offices as the Governor's Legislative Affairs Secretary, the Office of the Legislative Counsel, the Assembly Committee on the Judiciary, and the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality. Interns can expect to be involved in every aspect of "working a bill" through the legislative process, from basic legal research and drafting to attending committee and floor sessions.
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The Liberty, Security & Technology Clinic (LSTC) is an advanced constitutional law clinic that offers indigent defense in complex federal criminal prosecutions involving national security and cybersecurity charges in partnership with federal public defenders, private counsel, and non-profit organizations. Students will write briefs and moot arguments that promote respect for Constitutional due process, privacy, and other rights, often involving issues of first impression. Students may also engage in fact-finding and investigation, often collaborating with non-legal members of the defense team such as investigators, linguists and subject-matter experts. Through their work, clinic students will develop a problem-solving approach to lawyering that is international, interdisciplinary, and collaborative. This clinic will be of particular interest to students considering a career in civil rights litigation, complex criminal litigation, cybersecurity and/or national security law. Technical background not required.
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Students in the Local Government Clinic work with the General Law Team of the San Francisco City Attorney's Office or at city attorney's offices in other Bay Area locations. Interns research and write on substantive issues that range from constitutional and statutory questions about the structure of state and local government, to public meeting and disclosure requirements, to delegation of authority among federal, state, and local governments. Interns may also draft ordinances and accompany city attorneys to public meetings and hearings.
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After extensive training, students mediate civil disputes in the San Francisco Small Claims Court and employment disputes referred by the City and County of San Francisco. Students also observe mediations with professional mediators. Students experience the role of a neutral in a dispute and learn how to foster a party-directed problem-solving process.
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The Medical-Legal Partnership for Seniors Clinic provides students with an opportunity to learn lawyering skills in an interdisciplinary context, and, in particular, to observe the impact of law and policy on the health and clinical care of low-income seniors. A novel feature of this course is that students will be conducting direct services fieldwork at a UCSF medical clinic and in patient homes and will work directly with elderly patients and their physicians. This clinic will be of particular interest to students considering a career in health law, elder law, estate planning, social justice lawyering, or any client-based practice.
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Students will participate in an internship at Legal Services for Children with a companion weekly seminar. The weekly class will include a discussion of specific cases students are working on, practical training on specific types of youth law cases, substantive legal training in Education, Foster Care, Guardianship and Immigration, and additional training in non-legal topics relevant to attorneys working with children and other vulnerable populations, focused on advocacy for clients who have been impacted by trauma. The practicum component will include participation in LSC’s warmline (a free and confidential help line), school expulsion hearings, guardianship proceedings, and immigration matters in addition to LSC’s policy work.
Students work on projects that involve refugee and human rights issues and present a unique opportunity to develop a range of skills relevant to legal advocacy in these areas. In the refugee area, students may engage in the direct representation of asylum seekers or do policy or other high impact work, including the development of expert witness affidavits. Human rights work may involve fact-finding and report writing addressing conditions in refugee-sending countries, collaborative projects with other nongovernmental organizations, and work with in-country experts. Some projects may be undertaken in partnership with the law school’s Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS). CGRS is one of the nation's leading refugee advocacy organizations, engaging in research, national policy work, impact litigation, and other strategies in defense of asylum seekers.
Read more about the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic.
Through the Social Enterprise & Economic Empowerment Clinic, UC Hastings students serve as outside counsel for social enterprises, nonprofit organizations and small businesses on corporate and transactional matters. Students advise entrepreneurs and nonprofit managers on a variety of corporate governance, compliance, transactional, and operational matters. Through their work, students gain experience as business attorneys and develop transactional lawyering skills such as strategic planning, project management, client interviewing and counseling, legal research and analysis, contract review and drafting, and cross-cultural competencies. Students work closely with their clients to understand their organizational model and industry to then provide counsel customized to the client’s particular corporate needs. Students are encouraged to grapple with and develop their own perspectives about how lawyers can best participate in regional economic development and advance issues of economic justice.
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The Workers' Rights Clinic provides free legal information and assistance to low-income workers with employment related issues. The Employment Law Center of the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco trains and supervises students who conduct client interviews and, after consultation with clinic coordinators, provide counseling, legal information, and referrals to low-income workers on a full range of employment-related problems.
Read more about the Workers' Rights Clinic.