Institute for Public Representation
The Institute for Public Representation (IPR) is a public interest law firm and clinical education program founded by Georgetown University Law Center in 1971. Attorneys at the Institute act as counsel for groups and individuals who are unable to obtain effective legal representation on matters that have a significant impact on issues of broad public importance. The Institute has worked in the areas of first amendment and media law, environmental law, civil rights and general public interest matters.
The IPR program gives students an opportunity to work on unique, large scale projects raising novel legal issues and requiring extensive research and writing. These projects involve both challenging issues and challenging legal materials. For example, most of our projects require students to develop and master extensive factual records that often relate to technical issues like telecommunications systems or clean water. Gathering of facts and the creation and use of administrative records is an important part of the experience for many of our students.
The students also must consider questions of strategy, issues of client autonomy, problems of professional responsibility, the need for careful preparation and planning, and how to mesh client goals with the applicable law and facts. Students have the opportunity to learn the skills of communicating orally and in writing with community groups and other non-lawyers. Like other clinics at Georgetown, we place our students in situations where they must assume responsibility for the quality of their own work and for the success of their clients' cases. However, most of the work at IPR is collaborative, with the fellows and faculty working with the students at each step of the case. Students learn from observing the work of experienced attorneys who are practicing law along with them. The students therefore not only have the chance to perform and critique their own work, but also to observe and critique the performance of the fellows and faculty.
The day-to-day work on cases is supplemented by weekly seminars and weekly clinic meetings, at which we review cases and current issues. In recent terms, the seminars have focused on the Administrative Procedure Act, standards of appellate review, litigation planning, statutory interpretation, professional responsibility, and negotiation and the relationship between lawyers and clients.
The IPR staff consists of two faculty members and four graduate fellows/staff attorneys. The staff attorneys are responsible for day-to-day supervision of students, guiding students in conducting legal research, reviewing student drafts, and preparing them for oral presentations. The Institute accepts applications for two or three two-year graduate fellows/staff attorney positions each year.