Focus on Civil Clinics

Some of the most desirable civil clinics still have openings for the spring semester, but you must apply soon!  Kay Shelton (Room 221) or Professor Smith (Room 225) would be happy to discuss your options with you, or they can be reached at  Students’ descriptions of their experiences at several featured clinics follows.

Catholic Community Services:  Immigration Law for refugees who have asylum.  Some familiarity with Immigration Law is helpful – either taking the class (or having taken it) or having interned with the Immigration Court.  Student comment:  “I’ve learned a lot about immigration law very quickly, but I think that the most helpful thing I’ve learned is how to interact with clients.  A lot of the clients either don’t speak English well, speak English but don’t understand hard words, are afraid (of talking to you, of Immigration), or may not be telling me something important (because they’re ashamed, worried that immigration will deny their application if the tell the truth, or just didn’t think it was important).  In all of these situations, I’ve learned how important it is to be able to ask the same question many different ways.  It’s very different from a law school exam where you are given the facts and you don’t have to worry about any of these other factors which might change the situation completely.”

Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake City:  Domestic Law.  This fast-paced clinic would be particularly good for a 3L student interested in family law; the third year practice rule allows 3L students to appear in court.  Students participate in intake interviews with the paralegal and write motions and temporary orders, among other activities.  Supervising attorney Stewart Ralphs described this clinic as the “In and Out Burger” of legal services because the cases move rapidly toward resolution as if they were on a conveyor belt.  The work is very resolution-oriented, and often cases are moved quickly toward mediation.  Student comment:  “I am in court most Monday and Tuesday mornings with (my supervisor).  I have started taking 2-3 cases per morning.  So far, I have argued cases, requested continuances, requested that the hearing be stricken, amended orders and stated stipulations on the record. ”

U.S. Credit Advisory Group/True Asset Recovery:  Home foreclosure and other consumer law.  Work with a non-profit and private attorneys truly committed to consumer protection.  Screen and be the contact person for clients facing foreclosure.  Student comment:  “This type of work is both entirely new and yet based on older statutes and regulations. It is gaining more awareness through all of the foreclosure news that’s happening currently – the idea that the banks may be more responsible than they’ve been held to be – but is still a morass of education for everyone involved:  attorneys, clients, judges.”

Utah Crime Victims Legal Clinic:  Victims’ rights in criminal cases.  Topics of law most frequently encountered include domestic violence, the protective order process, rape, and victims’ rights law.  Student comment:  “The attorneys at the Victims’ Clinic were excellent in instructing me about client interaction and performance of certain tasks.  I had a few discussions with (my supervisor) and with an experienced intern about the victims that call in, what to expect, how to handle them.  Someone was always there to answer my questions.  If I was unclear about how to handle a task, I felt comfortable asking for help.   I am still learning much about criminal law and criminal process.  The attorneys at UCVLC are excellent counselors and I have learned much through observing their counseling techniques.”

Utah Health and Human Rights Project:  Work on asylum cases, preparing master exhibits on specific countries and their human rights conditions.  Draft affidavits for clients and accompany the client to their interviews.  Student comment:  “(My supervisor) did a thorough and careful job of editing my work.  She always gave constructive criticism – especially when I was preparing to conduct the examination and re-direct examination at the individual hearing of one of our asylum applicants.”

Utah Legal Services:  Poverty law with many areas of specialization, including landlord tenant, consumer law, elder, public benefits, farm workers, and domestic.  Student comment:  “I received excellent supervision.  (My supervisor) had work planned for me based on my clinic schedule.  She was always accessible to answer questions. She provided immediate feedback and updated me if there were any developments while I was not in clinic on any cases I worked on.  This was especially helpful to see how the bigger picture unfolded.”