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Clinic Guidelines

Clinic Requirement  |  Prerequisites  |  Conflicts  |  Student Practice  |  Clinic Lottery 

 

Clinic Requirement

In order to graduate with a Juris Doctor degree, each student must earn credit in at least two of the School of Law's seven-credit clinics, one of which must be a direct client service clinic. In order to enroll in a clinic, students must meet the prerequisites described below. Students are assigned to clinics based on a lottery, also described below.

 

Clinic Prerequisites

In order to be eligible to enroll in Clinic, students must successfully complete Lawyering Process I and II and Legal Research. See Student Handbook, Sec. 3.5.2. Some of the School's clinics have additional eligibility requirements related to conflicts of interest. Please read the following provisions.

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Conflicts of Interest

Legal Prohibition

Federal Law, 18 U.S.C. § 205, prohibits federal employees from representing people in matters against the United States and DC employees from representing people in matters against the District of Columbia. Violation of the statute calls for criminal penalties. The maximum penalty includes a $10,000 fine, two years imprisonment, or both.

Accordingly,

  • students who will work for the federal government during clinic may not participate in the Criminal Law Clinic, Immigration & Human Rights Clinic, or Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, and

  • students who are District of Columbia employees during the time they are in a clinic may not participate in the Criminal Law Clinic or Juvenile & Special Education Law Clinic.

Exceptions: The law does not apply to "special government employees,” which includes (among others) reserve officers and officers in the National Guard, unless they are voluntarily serving an extended period of active duty, and students whose entire period of government employment lasts less than 130 days (roughly equal to a semester) in a given year. See 18 U.S.C. § 202 for the definition of "special government employees.”

Also note that, for most students, the conflict law will apply only if you will continue to work for the government while you are taking clinic. See 18 U.S.C. § 207 regarding conflicts for former government employees.

Additional Conflict Check

After students are assigned to clinics, the professors will conduct an additional conflict check to determine whether a student's current or former employment, or other affiliation, presents an actual or potential conflict of interest for existing or former clients to whom we still owe a duty of care.

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Student Practice

D.C. Court of Appeals Rule 49 prohibits the unauthorized practice of law. D.C. Court of Appeals Rule 48 establishes a process for law student certification to practice within the context of a law school clinic and under the supervision of an authorized attorney.

Accordingly, the School of Law requires all students to apply for Special Admission to the Bar of the D.C. Court of Appeals, whether or not they anticipate enrolling in a clinic that will require appearances in D.C. courts or administrative tribunals. 

In order to be approved, a student must have completed 31 course credits (i.e., the equivalent of completing one year of law school), as verified by the Registrar, and have his or her application - which includes questions about the applicant's character - approved by the School of Law's Dean.

Once approved, a student may practice law in the District of Columbia, while enrolled in clinic and under the supervision of an authorized attorney, for one year. There is no need to reapply before enrolling in your second clinic (if taken within a year).

Students should review the Student Practice application (.pdf) midway through the semester preceding their first clinic, prior to the Clinic Lottery. Any student with questions regarding eligibility should discuss the application process with the Dean of Experiential and Clinical Programs or his or her faculty advisor.

Once the Registrar has announced clinic assignments following the Clinic Lottery, students should download the Student Practice application (.pdf), complete it electronically (the Court of Appeals requires typewritten entries), print it single-sided, sign both parts, and submit it to the Clinic Paralegal, Jordana Arias.

Consistent with Rule 48, the Dean of the School of Law will review the character and fitness of law students who are seeking Rule 48 admission and will submit certified students' applications to the D.C. Committee on Admissions; the Committee on Admissions will issue identification cards bearing each student's assigned Law Student Number signifying that he or she is a registered participant in the Rule 48 Legal Assistance by Law Students Program. These cards will be distributed to students by their supervising attorneys. Students should NOT contact the D.C. Committee on Admissions for status updates.

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Clinic Lottery

In each clinic, students will receive intensive one-on-one and small group teaching and feedback. Thus, a high quality clinical experience depends on maintaining a low student to faculty ratio, which makes it necessary to limit the number of students in each clinic. In order to make clinic assignments fairly while giving maximum weight to student preferences, we conduct a clinic lottery each semester. This method is designed to accommodate the first choice of as many students as possible.

In order to participate in the lottery, students must submit a Clinic Preference Form, which is available for a limited period prior to Registration (dates are announced by the Registrar). Students with outstanding clinic requirements who do not submit a Clinic Preference Form are assigned to clinics without regard to their preferences. Once assignments are made, the only way to change clinics is by swapping places with another student and both students notifying the Registrar of the swap before the end of the Add/Drop period. Students seeking to swap must have approval, prior to notifying the Registrar, from the faculty members who direct each of the affected clinics.

Students who wish to earn extra credit in their current clinic and students who wish to take a third clinic as an elective should NOT complete the Clinic Preference Form. Rather, those students should complete an Elective/Extended Clinic Form (.pdf), including required signatures, and submit it to the Registrar. Students seeking to earn extra credit in their current clinic should submit the Elective/Extended Clinic Form, if possible, prior to the next semester's registration period.

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