Justice Lab Clinic

The Justice Lab Clinic

Course Title: Justice Lab Clinic
Pre- or Co-requisite: Legal Profession  
Restrictions: Second- and third-year students only
Credit hours: 6

Course Description: The Justice Lab Clinic is an intensive, one-semester course where students represent clients and solve real legal, policy, and practical problems.  With faculty support and supervision, Justice Lab Clinic students represent community groups, non-profit organizations, and government agencies in access to justice and systemic reform projects.  In the Justice Lab Clinic, students learn traditional lawyering and advocacy models and are also encouraged to innovate, experiment, and build new models. 

More Information: Client representation, via projects, is the primary substance of the Justice Lab experience.  The Justice Lab’s work is driven by clients’ goals and needs.  As a result, the clinic’s work involves new areas of law and policy each semester.  Though the work is client-driven, faculty carefully select and design each project to maximize student learning.  Throughout the semester, students’ project work is guided and supplemented by weekly seminars, direct faculty supervision, peer feedback, and simulations.

The Justice Lab is equal parts demanding and rewarding.  Students should expect to spend an average of 20 hours per week on clinic work, including a twice-weekly two-hour seminar, supervision meetings, and meetings with clients or other parties.  Throughout the semester, faculty work closely with students and offer continuous, individualized, and goal-directed feedback and reflection opportunities.  Students are encouraged and supported in setting and reaching their own learning goals.

Students will engage in some or all of the following activities during their time in the clinic:

  • Identifying, defining, and solving complex law and policy problems;
  • Investigating justice and policy problems, identifying solutions, and developing proposals for change;
  • Developing and implementing advocacy and communications campaigns;
  • Analyzing public systems and identifying possible reforms;
  • Analyzing and drafting legislation or regulations;
  • Advocating for law and policy reform; and
  • Building tools and developing systems that increase access to justice and community well-being.

Students will develop and refine the following skills and abilities:

  • Research, analysis, and synthesis of law and policy;
  • Interviewing and counseling clients;
  • Fact investigation and data collection;
  • Complex problem-solving;
  • Collaboration with lawyers and non-lawyers;
  • Use of empirical data as an advocacy tool;
  • Strategic communication, including communicating about complex legal and policy concepts with audiences that are not law-trained;
  • Legal project planning and management;
  • Law firm administration, including using legal technology;
  • Storytelling and narrative in advocacy; and
  • Design thinking.