Clinic Course for Current J.D. Students



Thank you for expressing an interest in participating in the Center for Applied Legal Studies.  We look forward to assembling an interesting, talented and committed group of students for next year.  This memorandum explains the rest of the CALS admissions process.

Enrolling in a clinic is like signing a contract.  Your application signifies certain commitments on your part; that is, your assumption of obligations to clients, to your fellow students, and to the teaching and support staff.  The instructors' acceptance of your application implies certain obligations to create an environment conducive to your learning and to give you the kind of personal attention that makes clinics a very special form of legal education.

The CALS admissions procedure requires you to read this memorandum and the accompanying statement of our goals, and to fill out our supplemental application form.  You may also call us at (202) 662-9565 or explore our website if you have questions.  The purpose of requiring you to read these materials is to advise you about what we are trying to achieve, and about how we work, so that you can make a well-informed decision about whether you want to invest a semester of your time working with us.

If you decide that you want to participate in CALS, you should complete the supplemental application form.  Think carefully about your answers, because decisions regarding acceptance into the Clinic will be based on them.  We do not interview applicants.

The accompanying memorandum on goals is important; if you join CALS you will encounter it again as Chapter 1 of our Office Manual.  We distribute it to you this early as an introduction to CALS -- our attempt to be as clear as possible about our Clinic, our way of teaching and working, and our expectations for the year to come.

For important dates, deadlines, enrollment policies and detailed application instructions please visit the Clinic Registration page: The clinic registration webpage will be updated during the first week of March. 

The CALS and GULC policy on permitting students to drop the Clinic after the published dates (available on the clinic registration webpage) is very strict and is designed to prevent wasting tuition dollars by having clinical slots go unfilled as a result of last-minute dropouts, and to ensure that commitments to clients can be fulfilled.  As with all other clinics, after the above dates, a student who drops CALS without the permission of the advisors will receive ten credits of "F."  Such permission will not readily be granted.  Appeal from the advisors' decision to deny permission to drop may be taken to the Associate Dean for Clinics, who will permit withdrawal only in truly unusual circumstances.

How CALS Works

As soon as your semester at CALS begins, you will receive and be asked to read a manual (the first chapter of which appears on our website) explaining our teaching methods.  We do not ask you to read the entire manual before applying to take the Clinic, but we do want to summarize the main ways in which we work.  If you want to see other portions of the current manual now, in order to help decide whether to apply for CALS, please see us (although we do note that our materials change from year to year, and thus the current manual will not be fully applicable by the time you join us).

The Center for Applied Legal Studies is a ten-credit, one-semester clinic open to twelve students in the fall and twelve students in the spring.  students (students) in the Clinic work in partnerships.  Participation in CALS satisfies the Law Center's Writing Requirement.  There are no prerequisites, but to take this clinic, a student must have a cumulative grade average of at least B (3.0).  Night students and others holding part-time jobs are encouraged to apply if they feel they can make the commitment that participation in a ten-credit clinic necessarily requires.  Conflict-of-interest considerations preclude participation by students who will be employees of the federal government during the semester they take CALS.

The full-time staff of the Clinic includes Professor Andrew Schoenholtz (teaching in fall only) and Professor Philip Schrag (teaching in spring only), Clinical Teaching Fellows Rebecca Feldmann (2015-2017), Pooja Dadhania (2016-2018), and Karen Baker (2017-2019), and Office Manager Karen Bouton. 

As you know, next year, CALS will continue its project on international human rights, and all students will handle cases on behalf of refugees who seek asylum or other relief in the United States based on fear of persecution in their home countries.  students may also work on a second case, possibly a political asylum case at a different procedural stage.

The principal instructional modes in CALS are work on cases (including work with clients, with partners, and with the instructors serving as advisors) and two weekly classes (usually exercises or discussions requiring reading or writing in preparation).

Work On Cases

Early in the semester, students will be organized into two-person partnerships that will work together on the cases all semester.  The partnerships then assume significant responsibility for making and implementing decisions, and for determining what kinds of input or advice they want from instructors.  The instructors do, however, impose some basic pedagogic and structural limits.  For example, students are required to participate in weekly meetings with one or two instructors; they must prepare agendas for those meetings and lead the discussion; and they must submit draft briefs and other court or agency papers for feedback before filing them.

students meet and interview their clients early in the term, plan a strategy, and investigate the facts and law.  Later in the term, they handle the meetings with adversary lawyers, hearings, or other adjudicatory proceedings.  At the proceedings, the students do all of the witness examination and oral argument; the advisors observe and provide evaluation after the event is over.

Past students report that during most of the semester, CALS work requires about thirty-five hours a week, although some slow weeks may require less work and some busy weeks (such as the period before submitting evidence to court) usually require a much heavier commitment of time.  A student's CALS responsibilities may extend through the end of the exam period.  Your application is a statement of your willingness and ability to spend this much time on work related to CALS.

Work on clinic cases involves many judgments and tradeoffs, including conflicts between clients' needs for thorough fact investigation and the students' own personal needs.  These tradeoffs can be an explicit aspect of study within CALS.

Classroom Events

Meetings of the entire CALS staff are held every Wednesday afternoon for an hour and three quarters, and every Friday morning for an hour and a half.  Most of Wednesday sessions are devoted to exercises or discussions designed to develop further particular skills such as interviewing or witness examination.  Most of them involve preparatory work -- some reading and often a participatory exercise.  The preparation usually requires an hour or two, but a few may require considerably greater preparation.

In addition, we conduct extra classes at the start of the semester, to orient you quickly to the law we practice.  These usually occur during the first week of the semester or during the "Week One" period in January.  We need to front load the semester this way, so that you can get started promptly on your CALS cases.           

Fall or Spring?

You will notice that our application form asks you to express either "no preference" as between the two semesters in which the clinic is offered, or a "mild" or "strong" preference for a particular semester.  Your chance of being admitted to the clinic will be enhanced by giving us flexibility to admit you to either semester--that is, by expressing either no preference or only a "mild" preference.  However, if you can take the clinic only during one semester or the other, you may indicate a "strong" preference and we will do what we can.

A Final Note

Please read the statement of our goals carefully.  We want to make every effort to enable you to know what you're getting yourself into, and we want you to be certain that CALS is the sort of environment in which you really want to work.

As you can tell from what we have written here and in the attached statement, we are very excited by what we are teaching, and very serious about education.  We hope that you will find CALS to be as challenging, stimulating, and productive an experience for you as it is for us, and we hope that you will help us to make it so.  We look forward to working with you during the coming year.

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