Frequently Asked Questions - Students

How will I be able to competently represent "real" clients or handle a real project?

Students are trained in practical skills through seminars and role playing exercises. Professor Cecka assists students with particular issues related to representation as they arise.

How is the clinic graded?

The clinic is graded on a letter scale. Students are evaluated on both their case and seminar work. Professor Cecka will consider various factors, including: class participation; preparation of the legal theory and factual basis of each case; strategic decision-making; case and file management; advocacy, interviewing, and writing skills; adherence to deadlines and office procedures; ability to work collaboratively; and professional responsibility.

Are there any prerequisites?

Family Law is the only prerequisite. However, even if you have not taken Family Law, you may still be accepted to the clinic if you have had other experience in the fields of family/juvenile law, so do not hesitate to apply. Classes such as Children and the Law, Domestic Violence Seminar, Child Support and Enforcement, Ethics in Family Law, and Collaborative Law, are recommended, but not required.

How do clients react to student representation?

Because clients understand that a law professor will be supervising all aspects of their case, and after experiencing the attentive and thorough nature of student work, most clients are extremely receptive to student representation.

How many cases will I have throughout the course?

Students represent clients in teams of two. The number of cases each team is assigned depends on the nature and difficulty of the issues each case presents. However, most teams will have three to five cases throughout the course.

What kinds of tasks are students assigned during the semester?

Students perform all tasks required by counsel in the representation of the case. These include case management, interviewing clients and witnesses, investigating facts, drafting documents, and arguing cases in trials, hearings, and other court appearances.

What is the time commitment?

Law students are required to commit 12 hours per week in the fall and 16 hours per week during the spring to casework. Time spent in the seminar and reading for the seminar cannot be counted toward casework hours.

What role do social work students and their supervising professor have in the clinic?

Many of the clinic's clients face non-legal barriers to achieving their goals. Masters of Social Work students and their professor assist the legal team in recognizing and understanding these barriers through comprehensive case management, direct assistance with local agencies, and referrals.

What role does the psychology consultant have in the clinic?

A clinical psychologist aids the legal team in understanding psychological diagnoses and records, making referrals, and developing best practices related to mental illnesses and disabilities.

Do I need to be a 3L to take the clinic?

The clinic is open to 3Ls and 2Ls. However, 3Ls are given preference, as the number of openings is limited. Also, only 3Ls with a third year practice certificate may appear in court, although 2Ls can appear at administrative hearings and will participate in all other clinic activities.