Sample Syllabus

Student Learning Objectives

Students enrolled in the Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law Clinic assume the role of a transactional attorney and develop a variety of lawyering skills. Students are also evaluated on the basis of their educational commitment.


Having students assume the role and responsibilities of a lawyer is a foundation of clinical legal education. Students in the Clinic assume the role of an attorney in all of its manifestations.

A.  Ethical Considerations

Professional responsibility is an indispensable feature of good lawyering. Knowledge of and adherence to ethical rules is obviously necessary to practice law. Below are student learning objectives related to professional responsibility that the student develops in the Clinic.

The Clinic Student:
  • Protects client confidences
  • Demonstrates competence and diligence
  • Raises ethical concerns to professors
  • Demonstrates intellectual honesty

B.  Zealous Representation & Professionalism

Professional responsibility is not limited to the ethical considerations of lawyering. It also includes a student’s effort in the representation of her clients and management of her workload. Below are student learning objectives related to zealous representation and professionalism that the student develops in the Clinic.

The Clinic Student:  
  • Puts forth effort to provide the best legal representation of client possible
  • Takes personal responsibility for a client project
  • Prepares for supervision meetings with professors in a manner that reflects initiative and responsibility for client project
  • Studies problem or issue before asking for supervisory assistance
  • Prepares for client interaction and representation of client to third parties
  • Maintains appropriate and professional relationships with client and other professionals he/she interacts with through the clinic
  • Demonstrates professional interpersonal skills (civility, eye contact, body language, manners) in clinic-related interactions
  • Responds timely to professor inquiries and client requests, emails, and calls
  • Meets deadlines imposed by the client, by professors, and on own initiative
  • Is punctual and attentive to professional obligations, including meetings with clients, professors, third parties, and other students
  • Maintains client files accurately and precisely, and complies with clinic policies
  • Accepts and incorporates client and professor feedback in positive, mature, and constructive manner
  • Avoids potentially embarrassing errors (e.g., wrong attachment, misaddressed emails, typos)
  • Contributes equitably to team / group work


Work in the Clinic provides students with the opportunity to develop a wide variety of lawyering skills. Below are student learning objectives related to lawyering skills that the student develops in the Clinic.

The Clinic Student:

Transaction/Project Planning:
  • Develops a theory and plan for each client project; modifies and reassesses project plan in light of subsequent developments and client and professor input
  • Considers the ethical, strategic, and client-specific issues in each project
  • Anticipates logistical and other lead-time items within project calendar; diligently carries out plan
  • Meets deadlines imposed by the client, by professors, and on own initiative; finishes the client project when expected
  • Prepares for client interviews
  • Asks informed and relevant questions in initial interview and client interactions
  • Develops professional rapport with client
  • Engages in active listening during interviews, reflected in knowledge developed
  • Obtains necessary information in client interview(s) to precisely define scope of work for client, client’s full range of legal needs, and other client-specific contexts needed to accomplish client work
Legal Research:
  • Understands basic functions, structure, and components of contracts
  • Understands content and purpose of core organizational documents (articles, bylaws, committee charters, policies)
  • Reads documents closely, completely, critically and consistently
  • Conducts comprehensive and accurate research of relevant legal and non-legal sources
  • Develops knowledge of relevant legal authority and the ability to apply this knowledge to client representation
Problem-Solving and Legal Analysis:
  • Learns about client and reflects such knowledge in legal analysis and project plan
  • Identifies client’s concerns and full range of legal needs
  • Identifies legal and non-legal solutions for addressing clients’ concerns
  • Generates a variety of options for solving clients’ problems / legal issues
  • Identifies strengths and weaknesses of various options
  • Anticipates potential problems with solutions and raises them with client
  • Applies comprehensive and accurate research from relevant sources to client issue
  • Considers real-world practical implications of legal advice and work product
  • Keeps client informed throughout project timeline
  • Writes with understanding of client, context/situation, and audience
  • Writes work-products and client communications in manner that reflects solid logic, thoughtful organization, and efficient data presentation
  • Writes with content, format, and tone reflecting sensitivity to reader time demands (writing is concise, data-rich, action-oriented, easy to follow)
  • Demonstrates concentration and attention to detail when working on multiple drafts
  • Demonstrates care and diligence when using forms and drawing on precedent documents (e.g., avoids rote copying of form documents)
  • Presents legal advice in an understandable manner, appropriate for given audience
  • Helps the client to understand relevant laws or regulator structures, legal nuances, and alternative solutions
  • Keeps the client informed throughout project timeline
  • Provides draft and final work product in accordance with clients’ expectations and needs


Clinic seminar is an important aspect of a student’s work in the Clinic. Students’ thoughtful contributions are essential to the success of the Clinic. Below are student learning objectives related to educational commitment that a student is expected to perform in the Clinic.

The Clinic Student:

  • Prepares for class
  • Attends class and supervision session on-time
  • Participates in class in a meaningful manner
  • Participates in simulations and execution of assignments, while remaining in role
  • Demonstrates initiative and creativity in raising issues and problem-solving in clinic rounds
  • Thoroughly, critically, and honestly assesses performance in reflection papers
  • Submits reflection papers on timely basis
  • Uses computer in class for clinic work only

Reflection & Self-Assessment

Reflection factors into all three major student learning objectives. Reflection is a critical feature of clinical legal education. Clinic students do not just “learning by doing” but also maximize their learning potential through reflection. In the clinical setting, reflection means thinking in a disciplined manner about what the student does as a student-lawyer. Students articulate observations about their actions in order to comprehend and integrate new knowledge so that it can become the basis for their future actions. Learning how to reflect on lawyering allows students to engage in a life-long learning process that will enable students to move from novices to experts.