1. What is clinical education?
Clinical education is a teaching method that combines theoretical concepts and actual legal practice.Its purpose is to help students learn from their own experience and from their reflection on that experience.In a clinical course, students are given the opportunity to exercise professional judgment while representing actual clients.In most clinics, students are responsible for all aspects of the client's representation.The students' experiences then become the subject of critical review and reflection.This review teaches students how to better evaluate their own legal work as well as the legal work performed by others.
2. Will being in a clinic help me learn how to be a lawyer?
Absolutely.A central goal of clinical education is teaching students how to be skilled, responsible members of the profession.Students in clinics learn how to be lawyers by engaging in the practice of law in a controlled educational environment that promotes self-reflection on each lawyering task.Those students who have participated in a clinic generally consider their clinic experience to be essential to their preparation for the practice of law.
3. What clinics are offered at Georgetown?
Fifteen clinics will offer twenty-five clinical courses in the 2013-2014 academic year:Appellate Litigation; Center for Applied Legal Studies; Community Justice Project; Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy; Criminal Justice; Domestic Violence; Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic; Harrison Institute for Housing and Community Development; Harrison Institute Policy; Institute for Public Representation; International Women's Human Rights; Juvenile Justice; Law Students in Court; Social Enterprise and Non-Profit Law Clinic, and Street Law High Schools.Students in Street Law do not represent actual clients; nonetheless, Street Law has traditionally been included as part of Georgetown's clinical curriculum.
4. How many semesters is a student in a clinic?
Some clinical courses are conducted in one semester, either fall or spring.Other clinical courses are conducted over the full academic year, both the fall and spring semesters.Law Students in Court and Street Law usually offer summer courses as well.
5. What subject matter is covered in the clinics?
The subject matter varies from clinic to clinic and includes areas such as criminal law, juvenile delinquency, domestic violence, environmental protection, policy law in the areas of trade and community health, political asylum, civil rights, prisoner rights and re-entry, community development, landlord/tenant, human rights, and communications law. The curriculum includes clinics that engage in trial, administrative, appellate, and legislative advocacy as well as public relations, business, and transactional practice and policy analysis.
6. Should I take a clinic even if I plan on practicing corporate law?
There are two clinics that engage in transactional practice and teach skills that are transferable to future corporate practice (the Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law Clinic and the Harrison Institute for Housing and Community Development). You should explore the possibility of taking a clinic irrespective of the type of law you intend to practice. No matter what its subject matter, each clinic teaches the essential skills of planning, problem solving, strategic thinking, ethics, client relations, and many others associated with the practice of law, which are transferable to any kind of law that you might practice.
7. Whom do the clinics represent?
Georgetown's clinics promote an ethic of public service. The clients of most clinics are individuals and organizations who otherwise would not be able to obtain legal representation.
8. How are the clinics funded?
Most clinics are funded with tuition revenues. Some clinics supplement their funding with grants or contracts with community groups.
9. Do students work with real clients?
Students work with actual clients (either individuals or organizations) in all clinics except the Street Law program. In the Street Law Clinic, students teach law to D.C. public high school students.
10. What do students do?
Students engage in all of the tasks normally associated with the cases and other matters in which the clinic provides representation. In many clinics, the students bear primary responsibility for investigation, interviewing, client counseling, planning, negotiation, strategic analysis, research, writing, and oral advocacy.
11. Are clients' interests compromised by student representation?
No.Our students are trained in the subject matter of their clinic and are capable, thoughtful, hard-working student attorneys. Additionally, students are supervised by experienced lawyers and teachers, and caseloads are light enough to allow thorough preparation.
12. Do students get to go to court?
Some, but not all, clinics are designed to represent clients before a court.Students in some clinics appear before administrative tribunals.Others participate in the legislative process, and some engage in transactional or policy law.
13. What is the faculty/student ratio?
The faculty/student ratio varies between 1 to 4 and 1 to 8.
14. Who teaches clinical courses?
Most clinical faculty are tenured or tenure eligible. Adjunct faculty also teach in some clinics. The faculty are assisted by graduate teaching fellows. In addition to teaching their clinic seminars and administering their respective clinics, the faculty supervise all aspects of their students' work, either directly or in conjunction with a teaching fellow or adjunct professor.
15. Who are the graduate teaching fellows and what do they do?
The teaching fellows are participants in a unique graduate fellowship program. This program offers attorneys the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws in Advocacy while specializing in a particular practice area, and gaining expertise as public interest lawyers and clinical teachers. The fellows assist the faculty in supervising J.D. students enrolled in the clinics, teaching the clinic seminars, and revising course materials. They may also work on their own clinic-related cases or projects. Fellows are generally assigned to every clinic except Law Students in Court, and are in residence for two years.
16. Who may enroll in a clinic?
Second and Third Year students may enroll in the following:
The Center for Applied Legal Studies, Federal Legislation and Administrative, Harrison Institute Policy, Harrison Institute for Housing and Community Development, Institute for Public Representation, Street Law, and the International Women's Human Rights are open to students (full-time and part-time) who will have completed a minimum of 28 credits before the beginning of the semester in which the students are enrolled in a clinic.
Street Law also will accept part-time students who have completed 20 credits in their first year.
Second Semester Second Year Students and Third Year Students may enroll in the following:
The Community Justice Project and the Domestic Violence Clinic are open to students who will have completed 41 credits by the time clinic classes begin and who otherwise fulfill the requirements of the D.C. student practice rule (see FAQs #20 & #21 below).
Third Year students only may enroll in the following:
The Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy, Criminal Justice, Juvenile Justice, and Law Students in Court are open only to students who will have completed 41 credits by the time clinic classes begin and who otherwise fulfill the requirements of the D.C. student practice rule (see FAQs #20 & #21 below).
The Appellate Litigation Program and the Social Enterprise and Non-Profit Law Clinic are only open to third year full-time students and part-time students who will have completed the equivalent of four full-time semesters by the end of their fall semester in the clinic.
Course prerequisites and other eligibility requirements apply to some clinics.For further details on these requirements, see the Guide to Clinic Courses and FAQ #20 below.Part-time students: see FAQ #25. LL.M. students are not permitted to take a clinic.
17. How are students selected for a clinic?
Each clinic has its own method of selection.Most clinics choose students through a competitive selection process, but several clinics use a lottery system.Clinics that use competitive selection base their choices on prior experience, writing samples, statements of interest, and other criteria.Most clinics also give preference to those students who are entering their final year of law school.For further details, review the clinic-specific materials available online. Printed packets of clinic-specific material will be available during the Clinic Information Fair on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.
18. Do all applicants get into a clinic?
Unfortunately, no.About 450 students usually apply for the approximately almost 325clinical seats available each year.Many of the applicants typically who do not receive a clinic slot are first year students and will therefore have another opportunity to apply the following year.If past application statistics are predictive, almost 100 students who are entering their final year of law school will not obtain a clinic seat in any of their choices.
19. Can a student take more than one clinic while in law school?
It is theoretically possible for a student to take more than one live-client clinic over the course of his or her law school career. Limited clinical resources, however, make this highly unlikely. Preference is given to those students who have not previously taken any clinical course other than Street Law. If a live-client clinic is under-subscribed, and all other students wishing to take that clinic have been satisfied, a student who has taken a prior live-client clinic will be permitted to enroll.
20. Are there prerequisites to enrollment?
Each clinic has set forth its own requirements, which are available on the clinic's webpage. For a printed version of the clinic's requirement, please ask the clinic's office manager for a printed. Booklets will also be available during the Clinic Information Fair on March 13.Generally speaking, clinics that practice before the courts and other tribunals of D.C., students must meet the requirements of the D.C. student practice rule.This rule requires the completion of 41 credit hours before the beginning of the semester in which the students are enrolled in a clinic, including courses in Civil Procedure, Criminal Justice, and Evidence.Both the A & B curricula at Georgetown satisfy the Civil Procedure and Criminal Justice course requirements. Students in some clinics that practice in federal court must have completed the equivalent of four full-time semesters before they begin their clinic work.Students in the International Women's Human Rights Clinic must take International and Comparative Law on the Rights of Women, either concurrently with or prior to taking the clinic, and students in the Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic must take Lawmaking, Legislation, or Government Processes prior to or concurrently with the clinic. Students taking Social Enterprise and Non-Profit Law Clinic must have taken either Corporations or one of the J.D. seminars focused on nonprofit law (the Nonprofit Organizations Seminar or Governance of Nonprofit Organizations).
21. What do I need to know about student practice rules?
Aside from course and credit requirements (see FAQ #20 above), students in clinics that practice in the courts and tribunals of D.C. must be certified by the Dean as being of good character and must obtain a character clearance from the Committee on Admissions in D.C., the entity that issues student bar cards.Obtaining the character clearance entails answering certain questions regarding prior violations of the law (including some traffic violations), financial responsibility, and other prior conduct (see Clinic Enrollment Policies #3-#4).In an effort to maximize a student's chances of receiving character clearance, Dean Aiken will answer specific questions about how students' past histories will affect their ability to participate in one of the clinics.This is provided as a service to students but does not guarantee a student's character clearance.Students with cases pending before the Georgetown Professional Responsibility Committee will not be cleared by the D.C. Committee on Admissions until the matter is resolved.While the case is pending, a student will not be permitted to enroll in a clinic.Most federal courts also require a Dean's certification of a student's good character.A prior adverse disciplinary determination in college or law school could prevent a student from being certified.
22. On average how many hours per week do students work in their clinic?
Most of our clinics require a substantial time commitment in order to ensure that students receive the best educational experience possible and that clients receive quality legal representation.The average weekly time commitment varies from clinic to clinic and is related to the number of credit hours allocated to the course.Time commitments over the course of a semester range from an average of 15 to 35 hours per week, depending on the clinic.Due to the nature of the work in some clinics, students in those clinics should expect to work more than the weekly average in some weeks and less in others.An explanation of the expected time commitment is provided in each clinic's entry in this packet.In addition to reviewing this information, we strongly recommend that applicants ask currently or previously enrolled clinic students to what extent their clinic participation has impacted their ability to engage in extracurricular activities or part-time employment.
23. How long am I responsible for my cases or other clinic assignments?
Each clinic determines the duration of a student's responsibility for the course. Many clinics expect students to work on their cases through the exam period. Please see each clinic's entry for further information.
24. How are students graded?
Clinics use the same grading scale that is used in other courses at Georgetown. Clinics also generally grade in accordance with a historical curve (a historical average of all clinic grades). Final examinations are not given. Rather, student evaluations are based on performance of the lawyering tasks associated with the representation of a client and on a student's ability to learn from those experiences. The faculty of each clinic determines the specific criteria upon which students are evaluated. While the faculty is ultimately responsible for determining students' grades, fellows participate in the grading process as well.
25. What should part-time students know about taking a clinic?
Part-time students are welcome to apply for a clinic as long as they are not rendered ineligible for a particular clinic because they are employed by the Federal or District of Columbia governments and they do not have job responsibilities during the day that preclude the time commitment demanded by clinics and ethical client service.Part-time students should carefully review the eligibility guidelines in order to ensure that they will have completed enough credits to enroll.Assuming they meet all other eligibility and course prerequisites, fourth year part-time students may enroll in any clinic.Street Law will accept part-time students who have completed 20 credits in the first year, part-time curriculum.In addition, some clinics will accept part-time students who will have completed a minimum of 28 credits before the beginning of the semester in which they are enrolled in a clinic (see FAQ #16, #20-21).With the exception of Street Law, the 28 credit minimum also applies to first year part-time students who have transferred to the full-time division for their second year.Part-time students may not defer taking their required second year courses (Criminal Justice and the first year elective) in order to participate in a clinic (see Clinic Enrollment Policies, #8).Summer clinics give preference to part-time students, assuming they meet other admission criteria.
26. If I do not get accepted to a clinic during the regular registration period for the 2012-2013 academic year, is there any other way to enroll in a clinic for the 2012-2013 academic year?
While the chances to be admitted to a clinic following the regular registration period for that same academic year are small, students do occasionally get admitted off the waitlist if a student already enrolled in the clinic withdraws. In addition, on the equally rare chance that the regular registration period has not filled all of a clinic's available seats, the Assistant Dean of Clinics may announce an additional application period via broadcast email. Any such announcement will specify the particular rules, timelines, eligibility criteria, etc., applicable to the additional application period.
27. How does the waitlist process work?
All students who were not admitted to any clinic and who listed a clinic as any number choice are automatically listed on that clinic's waitlist, in the order that they ranked the clinic.When a clinic experiences a withdrawal or other unexpected vacancy, it will select a student from the students who listed the clinic as their first choice.If no students are available or accept an offer to fill the vacancy from the first choice pool, the clinic will consider students who listed the clinic as their second choice third choice, etc., until it fills the vacancy, similar to the manner in which clinics decide which pools of students to consider during the regular application and selection process (see page 22, "Selecting a Clinic" for more information on how the clinic ranking process works). Please note: Students on the International Women's Human Rights Clinic waitlist will be considered only if they take the required prerequisite class.
28. Is there anything I should know or should do if I have or suspect I have a disability that may affect my experience in a clinic? Because of the nature of clinic work, students with disabilities may encounter a need for accommodations in clinics that may be different from those previously established as appropriate for other courses. The kind of accommodations will depend on the particular clinic’s area of practice and vary from clinic to clinic. Therefore, students registered with the Law Center’s Office of Disability Services or who suspect that they may have a disability that could affect their experience in a clinic should consult the Assistant Dean of Clinics and/or Laura Cutway, the Law Center’s Associate Director of Disability Services. We advise that students consult the Assistant Dean of Clinics and/or Ms. Cutway as soon as possible, ideally before applying to clinics, so they can factor the relevant considerations regarding accommodations into their clinic selection process.