3 Course Models

Clinics

Course Model: City University of New York’s (CUNY) Elder Law Clinic

Elder Law Clinic (ELC) interns represent clients who are grappling with a variety of legal issues and problems related to aging and incapacity. We work primarily in the areas of adult guardianships, estate and incapacity planning, and government benefits. Interns examine the theory, doctrine and practice of elder law, and develop the skills necessary to provide high quality representation focused on understanding and responding to the client’s goals and wishes. Legal interns appear in court on adult guardianship and estate administration cases, develop expertise in planning and drafting, and work on advocacy and community education projects related to law, aging, and decision making capacity issues.

Highlights of Student-Attorney Experiences in the Elder Law Clinic:

    • Serve as Court Evaluator and represent parties in Adult Guardianship proceedings in Supreme Court under Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law.
    • Represent clients by drafting wills, trusts, and advance directives.
    • Counsel clients about government benefits, including Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.
    • Represent clients in Surrogate’s Court proceedings involving probate of wills and administration of estates.
    • Participate in projects that complement our individual casework.

Course Model: University of Miami’s Health Rights Clinic

The Health Rights Clinic is a medical-legal partnership operated in collaboration with the UM Miller School of Medicine. Students participating in the Health Rights Clinic represent multiple clients in different legal matters related to health. Under the guidance of Director JoNel Newman and Associate Director Melissa Swain, clinic students spend the academic year representing low income patients of the South Florida AIDS Network, Jackson Hospital and other medical partners.

Law students function as the client’s primary advocate and conduct client intakes/interviews, conduct legal research, file legal pleadings and legal documents, develop case strategies and theories, and provide representation in administrative hearings and court.

Representation is focused on the following priority areas:

    • Social Security/Public Benefits – Students provide legal services in Social Security and other public benefits cases. Students represent clients obtaining Medicaid and other insurance. Many students file appeals and/or appear in federal administrative court.
    • Advanced Directives – Students draft advance directives such as wills, living wills, health care surrogacy, preneed guardianships and guardianships.
    • Immigration – Students represent health impaired clients in immigration related matters. Specifically, students file applications and regularly appear before the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of our clients seeking U.S. Citizenship or Legal Permanent Residency.
    • Veteran Benefits – Students supervised by faculty work with doctors, medical residents, social workers and attorneys to advocate for veteran’s legal rights in light of medical scenarios. The Health Rights Clinic presently provides legal services on-site to veterans receiving health care at Operation Sacred Trust (OST).

Course Model: Columbia’s Lawyering in the Ditigal Age Clinic

The Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic is especially focused on work at the intersection of law practice, legal technology, and professional development. The goal of the clinic is to equip its students with the analytical framework and core competencies to thrive in the modern law practice. Students learn that gathering and processing legal information requires digital tools in order to provide effective legal service. The clinic also emphasizes the teaching of knowledge management and technical competencies as a way for its graduates to meet their ethical professional obligations in an increasingly digital practice environment. Through projects like an A2J Guided Interview developed for the New York City Housing Court, students are able to bring all the core course principles to bear to serve pro se litigants. In doing so, they will have learned what is required of modern lawyers in the digital age.

Professionalism Courses

Course Model: University of North Carolina’s Becoming a Professional: Exploring Skills & Transition into Practice

This course operates on three levels. It introduces students to the historical values of the legal profession, the pressures for change now at work, and the characteristics of various paths in the profession of particular interest to students. In addition, the course helps students develop a range of “soft skills” important in law practice but not typically taught (various forms of written and oral communication, research, teamwork, dealing with diverse people, reflection, and work with court documents/legal forms and software that supports automated document production). Finally, the course seeks to help students explore their own hopes and plans for a future within the profession, using reflection, discussion and a day-long retreat with law alumni chosen to match student interests.

Hybrid Legal Skills Seminars/Practicums

Course Model: IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Justice and Technology Practicum

Students will explore access to justice issues, including the use of technology in law practice and legal services, alternative legal services delivery models, e-lawyering, unbundling and pro se litigant assistance. Class meets for one (1) hour each week to discuss assigned readings on these topics. Additionally, for twelve (12) hours a week students work on client service and drafting projects with the Center for Access to Justice & Technology, whose mission is to provide low-income individuals with greater access to the legal system through the use of internet technology. The practicum provides students with experience in assisting self-represented litigants and providing legal information to low-income individuals. Students will also draft automated court forms and instructions for pro se litigants and the public. A variety of legal topics are available for student projects, including landlord/tenant, domestic relations and consumer rights. These drafting projects include the following activities: researching, drafting, and editing Web-based legal education materials and legal forms with instructions for the public, and developing plain language user interfaces for Web-based document assembly. Some audio/video production may be used in creating these materials. The practicum requires twelve (12) hours per week to be spent on practicum activities outside of class. No prior technical training is required beyond normal computer familiarity with word processing. Students may earn additional credit the following semester by arrangement.

Course Model: Georgetown University Law Center’s Technology, Innovation and Law Practice: Access to Justice

In a project-based practicum course, students participate in a weekly seminar and work on a project under the supervision of their professor. This project-based practicum course will expose students to the varied uses of computer technologies in the practice of law, with an emphasis on technologies that enhance access to justice and make legal services more affordable for individuals of limited means. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and carry out 10 hours/week of project work under the direction of the course professors.

SEMINAR: The seminar portion of the class will focus on issues related to access to the legal system. These include economic and regulatory barriers (in particular prohibitions against the unauthorized practice of law), resource constraints and statutory limits that apply to publicly funded legal services, and the individual and collective empowerment potential of apps, social media and the internet. The seminar will also consider the implications of the consumer law revolution for access to the legal system and the market for legal services.

PROJECT WORK: Students will work in small teams for a legal service organization to develop a platform, application, or automated system that increases access to justice and/or improves the effectiveness of legal representation. These organizations include civil rights organizations, direct service providers, and government agencies. The course culminates in a design competition: the Georgetown Iron Tech Lawyer Contest. Along the way, students learn systems logic, teamwork, and visual literacy skills. By the end of the semester, each team will have built a functional app intended for adoption by the participating legal services organization and put into use for its clients.

Course Model: Concordia University School of Law’s A2J Clinic

This course is a hybrid classroom and clinical offering in partnership with Idaho Legal Aid Services, Idaho’s largest nonprofit law firm whose mission is to serve the civil legal needs of low-income Idahoans. In the first few weeks of the course, faculty will provide instruction in indigent legal services including a basic introduction and discussion of human rights, civil rights, employment law, family law, and consumer rights. These traditional classes will rely on selected readings and field visits to local indigent service providers and court hearings to frame the issues for discussion.

Students and faculty will then select web-based legal resources that would benefit persons of limited means and develop online, automated documents using A2J Author. These A2J Guided Interviews can be developed for statewide legal aid websites. Examples include automated documents in the areas of elder law, family law, housing, and wills and probate. Students and faculty will meet weekly to review the progress on each student project, share insights and tips, and work on projects together.

The educational objectives of this course are to have the students know the principles of automated document assembly and some specific area of law relevant to persons of limited means and to have an attitude of service to those of limited means.

The service objective of this course is to use automated document assembly modules to improve access to justice in Idaho and elsewhere for those for whom poverty, age, illness, disability, and other disadvantages limit their ability to obtain legal representation.