Clinical Programs

Richmond's extensive clinical program offers students numerous and varied opportunities to develop the full range of critical skills needed for the practice of law. In the school's in-house clinics, students represent clients directly in a law office atmosphere under the supervision and mentorship of full-time clinical faculty. Students in these clinics interact directly with clients, drafting and filing legal documents and briefs, negotiating business transactions and settlements, and even appearing in court. In addition to the in-house clinics, the Clinical Placement Program, directed by a full-time faculty member, provides externship placements for students in a variety of practice settings, including in-house counsel, non-profit organizations, government agencies, prosecutors' or public defender offices, and judicial chambers.

Students at Richmond also may gain international clinical experience by participating in the School's five-week, London Clinical Placement Program, where they work closely with barristers, solicitors, and members of Parliament. Learn more about the London Clinical Placement Program.

Clinical Placement Programs

In the Clinical Placement Program (CPP), the law office or judge's chambers to which a student is assigned is the classroom. Here students experience the practice of law. Legal skills are used to help "real" clients and to assist in deciding "real" cases. Students grapple with issues of personal and professional responsibility. They also learn firsthand about the legal system and the social, economic, and political forces that affect it. Issues involving bias, the meaning and quality of justice, and larger societal concerns challenge student thinking. Throughout the semester, students are encouraged to take charge of their own learning experiences and to utilize critical thinking skills.

The CPP is divided into five sections: civil, criminal, judicial, litigation, and in-house counsel (spring semester only). The civil section is composed of placements with government and public interest agencies. The criminal section is composed of defense and prosecutorial placements. The judicial section includes placements with state and federal judges at both the trial and appellate levels. The litigation clinic includes civil, criminal, and judicial placements. The in-house counsel section places students with counsel for national and international corporations. Each section is limited to eight students per semester. Students may take the CPP for four, five, or six credit hours. All credit is pass/fail.

A professor is assigned to each section of the CPP. They not only teach students but also serve as catalysts for self-discovery. The lawyers and judges who work with students are called field instructors. They are selected based upon their legal expertise and competence, professional reputation, and desire to work with students. The field instructors serve as supervisors, teachers, and mentors. All of these individuals are dedicated to helping students reach their full potential.

The law school recognizes that reflection is essential to learning from one's experiences, so students are required to produce weekly journals and to meet biweekly with their professor. The purpose of these activities is to provide time for self-examination and to permit students to process what they are learning. This focus carries over into the weekly seminar where student experiences furnish the starting point for further intellectual inquiry. By offering an integrated approach to learning, the CPP inspires students to be self-directed and to challenge their own thinking.

Civil Placements

In civil placements, students work with government and non-profit or public interest lawyers. They may engage in civil litigation, public policy, transactional or regulatory work, or legislative advocacy.

Placements include:

  • American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (Not Available Spring 2011)
  • Attorney General's Office of Virginia/Antitrust and Consumer Litigation Division
  • Attorney General's Office of Virginia/Civil Litigation Division Employment Law Section
  • Attorney General's Office of Virginia/Mental Health & Health Services Section (Not Available Spring 2011)
  • Attorney General's Office of Virginia/Solicitor General Section
  • Capital One
  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Commonwealth Mediation Group
  • Department of Environmental Quality (Fall Only)
  • Department of Motor Vehicles, Chief Hearing Examiner's Office
  • Drive-To-Work
  • Henrico County Attorney's Office
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Legal Aid Justice Center
  • Office of the City Attorney (Third Years only)
  • Southern Environmental Law (Spring Only)
  • The Nature Conservancy in Virginia
  • United Network for Organ Sharing  (UNOS)
  • United States Attorney's Office
  • United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • University of Richmond - Department of Athletics
  • University of Richmond - General Counsel
  • Virginia Commonwealth University/Health System Authority
  • Virginia Commonwealth University/Office of the General Counsel
  • Virginia Community College System
  • Virginia Employment Commission
  • Virginia Poverty Law Center
  • Virginia State AFL-CIO (Spring Only)
  • Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Department
  • Virginia State Corporation Commission
Criminal Placements

In criminal placements, third year students work with state and federal prosecutors and public defenders. Students have an opportunity to develop a wide range of skill sets, including fact investigation, interviewing, research and writing, trial strategy, and trial advocacy. Under Virginia’s third year practice rules, students are allowed to try cases under the supervision of a licensed attorney and can expect to be in the courtroom regularly.

Placements include:

  • Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney's Office (Adult) (Juvenile)
  • Hanover Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office
  • Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney's Office
  • Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney's Office
  • United States Attorney's Office
  • Office of the Federal Public Defender
  • Richmond Public Defender’s Office
    In-House Counsel Placements

    Students in in-house counsel placements work with national and international corporations. These placements afford students to learn about the role of in-house counsel and to gain exposure to wide range of legal business issues. Students work with clients, attend meetings, review and draft documents, and develop problem-solving skills.

    Placements include:

    • American Red Cross
    • Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
    • Genworth Financial, Inc.
    • Home Care Delivered, Inc.
    • Markel Corporation (Tax Counsel's Office)
    • NewMarket Services Corporation - Environmental, Commercial Law and Litigation Management
    • NewMarket Services Corporation - Intellectual Property
    • Southern States Cooperative, Incorporated
      Judicial Placements

      In judicial placements, students have an opportunity to serve as a student law clerk for a state or federal judge. Placements are available at both the trial and appellate levels. Students learn about the role of the judge, the role of a law clerk, and judicial decision-making.

      Placements include:

      • Supreme Court of Virginia (Not Available Spring 2011)
      • Court of Appeals of Virginia
      • Chesterfield Circuit Court
      • Henrico Circuit Court
      • Richmond Circuit Court
      • Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court
      • Henrico Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court
      • Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court
      • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
      • United States District Court
      • United States Bankruptcy Court
      • United States Magistrate
        In-House Clinics

        Richmond Law operates five in-house clinics, in which students work on real legal matters for real clients, under the supervision of law school faculty members.  The clinics offer an invaluable capstone experience for upper-level students as they transition from learning the law to practicing the law, allowing them to represent clients in a wide variety of matters—disability rights, trademark registration, wrongful conviction, and more.  As part of the law school's integrated skills program, the clinics build upon and reinforce work done in both simulation-based and traditional course work.  In addition to receiving advanced skills training, clinic students apply these skills in real-life situations and examine both the real-world impact of social and political policies and the assumptions underlying the practice of law.

        Clinics offer the chance to explore working relationships, whether with a work partner, a supervisor, a client, or opposing counsel. Students often find these interactions to be among the most important parts of their clinical experience. In addition, the relationships students establish with their clients give added meaning and purpose to both their time in the clinic and their work in their other courses. Finally, the clinical experience focuses on issues of professionalism and professional responsibility as students prepare to become members of the Bar.

        Children's Defense Clinic

        The Children's Defense Clinic (formerly the Delinquency Clinic) is a litigation-oriented clinic that focuses on the needs of "at-risk" children and adolescents. Under the supervision of Assistant Clinical Professor and Director Julie McConnell, clinic students advocate on behalf of children appearing before area juvenile courts. In the majority of cases, students serve as defense counsel for youth accused of delinquency (criminal) offenses. Students are also occasionally assigned to work as guardians ad litem on other cases which involve children's issues, such as abuse and neglect.

        Clinic students participate in client interviewing and counseling, fact investigation, case planning, report writing, motions drafting, and courtroom advocacy. The clinic is open to second and third year students, although students must have their third-year practice certificates in order to appear in court.


        Education Rights Clinic

        Law students in the Education Rights Clinic (formerly the Disability Law Clinic) represent children and parents seeking appropriate special education and community-based services mandated by both federal and state law. Students also represent youth with mental disabilities who are before the juvenile court or are incarcerated or institutionalized. Law students represent clients under the supervision of Professor of Law and Director Adrienne Volenik.

        Clinic students may be appointed guardians ad litem for children with mental health needs in the justice system. Students are actively engaged in interviewing, counseling, negotiation, fact investigation, community and school meetings, and administrative and court hearings.

        Third year students have been involved in litigation in both state and federal courts. Both second and third year students have handled due process administrative hearings.

        Special Education Resources

        Virginia Dept. of Education Office of Special Education and Student Services

        U.S. Dept. of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

        United States House of Representatives
        Jeanette Lipman Family Law Clinic

        The Jeanette Lipman Family Law Clinic is an in-house clinic that provides legal assistance to families and children in the City of Richmond. Law students represent clients under the supervision of Professor of Law and Director Dale Cecka. Areas of representation include divorce, custody, visitation, domestic violence, foster care, public benefits and housing.

        The Clinic is a one semester course for second and third year law students. Students participate in all aspects of legal representation, including in and out-of-court advocacy, client interviewing, drafting and filing court documents, and legal writing and research. The clinic also involves simulation activities. Students need to complete Family Law to participate in the clinic. Please see the FAQ for students for more information.

        A multidisciplinary collaboration with Virginia Commonwealth University, the Clinic is also staffed by graduate students and faculty from Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Social Work and Department of Psychology, who help the legal team provide a broad spectrum of services to clients.

        Learn more about the Jeanette Lipman Family Law Clinic.

        Institute for Actual Innocence Clinic

        The Institute for Actual Innocence works to identify and exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Students, faculty, and practicing lawyers collaborate to assist Virginia prisoners in post-conviction relief.

        The institute is part of a national community of innocence project committed to improving the administration of justice in the United States. The institute pursues exonerations through post-conviction statutes called "writs of actual innocence." Professor Mary Kelly Tate serves as Director of the institute.

        Learn more about the Institute for Actual Innocence.

        Intellectual Property and Transactional Law Clinic

        The Intellectual Property and Transactional Law Clinic is a teaching law firm sponsored by the University of Richmond School of Law. The clinic is staffed by a team of upper-level law students who are trained in intellectual property and business law issues.  It offers comprehensive legal services to businesses and non-profit organizations, with expertise in providing legal guidance and representation in intellectual property and transactional matters.

        Learn more about the IP and Transactional Law Clinic.

        Student Success
        University of Richmond School of Law - Clinical Education, Knowledge in Action
        Sara Gaborik

        "The clinics have been the most educational and valuable experience I have had in law school (14 Credit Hours worth!!!). The clinics provided an opportunity to see the law in progress and interact with practicing attorneys. I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this program while at U of R."

        Placement: American Civil Liberties Union, Youth Advocacy Clinic

        Cathy Haas

        "The clinical program gives you opportunities that you can't get in the classroom. I was allowed to participate in whatever I was interested in, and by the fifth week, I was preparing for a jury trial. I got a lot of courtroom experience, and I worked with numerous Richmond attorneys and police officers. The program is what you make it; you have a lot of flexibility to choose your focus."

        Placement: Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney/Northside

        Leigh Carr

        "Right before my first case was called, I learned there was a cross-complaint against another defendant, and the case was piggybacked onto mine. The experience prepared me to be ready for anything. In the real world, you may not meet your witness until right before trial. You never know what they will say. The defendant might plead guilty at the last minute. You will have five defense attorneys offering plea bargains. The Criminal Placement Program allowed me to try cases in front a of judge and a jury. I won my trial involving an obstruction of justice charge. The feeling I got asking the jury to convict was both powerful and humbling."

        Placement: Chesterfield Commonwealth's Attorney/Adult


        Jessie Munn
        Administrative Coordinator, Law Clinics
        Phone: 804-289-8921

        Margie Zapata
        Administrative Assistant, Law Clinics
        Phone: (804) 289-8921

        Professor Margaret Ivey Bacigal
        Director, Clinical Placement Program

        Professor Dale Cecka
        Director, Jeanette Lipman Family Law Clinic

        Professor Julie McConnell
        Director, Children's Defense Clinic

        Professor Mary Kelly Tate
        Director, Institute for Actual Innocence Clinic

        Professor Adrienne Volenik
        Director, Education Rights Clinic