Civil Justice Clinic

Student Attorneys in the Civil Justice Clinic help low-income clients achieve access to justice through advocacy in a variety of legal contexts. With a particular focus on economic justice, students help their clients solve legal problems and provide representation in civil matters in the courts and administrative agencies of the District of Columbia and Maryland. The Civil Justice Clinic’s docket typically contains cases involving wage and hour and unemployment benefits claims. The clinic is particularly committed to representing low-wage workers in wage theft cases against exploitative employers and assisting workers in denials of unemployment benefits cases. Students in the CJC learn key lawyering and advocacy skills in their representation of individual clients.

Clinic faculty prioritize case intake that will allow students to obtain an “in court” experience, where possible. Students serve as “first-chair” in the courts and administrative agencies of the District of Columbia and Maryland, arguing cases, directing witnesses, and presenting evidence. Students also spend significant time interviewing clients, conducting fact investigations, drafting pleadings, and developing a narrative that fits within a broader case theory. Civil Justice Clinic students typically work in pairs and are responsible for managing their own caseload. They will typically have two or three clients during the semester, depending on the complexity of the matters and the flow and transition of past cases.

In the accompanying seminar, students are exposed to various topics related to economic justice including access to justice or the “justice gap,” cross-cultural lawyering, and critical legal theory. Students grapple with issues related to how the law intersects with the economic viability of clients, particularly its impact on low-wage workers. Students also consider the differences between the laws as written and as experienced in the lives of their clients and in the courts.  To accompany their development as attorneys, students engage in robust simulation work to hone their client interviewing, counseling, and negotiation skills. Clinic emphasizes the importance of reflection as a regular practice for students to take charge of their own learning. Clinic also emphasizes collaboration, and students engage in regular case rounds where they discuss and problem-solve around case development issues with their colleagues.


Diego M. Rivera, Detroit Industry, North Wall, 1932-1933, fresco. Detroit Institute of Arts