It is in the Office of Clinical Legal Education that law students' developing lawyering skills, theoretical knowledge, and commitment to service and community coalesce to further the College of Law's emphasis on legal education as a public good. Under the careful supervision of College of Law faculty, clinic students represent clients with real legal problems.
The Office of Clinical Legal Education provides two different opportunities for students to integrate their newly-acquired skills and knowledge: students can enroll in one of seven in-house clinical courses or participate in local, national, or international externship placements.
Helping the Community
In addition to providing opportunities for students, the Office of Clinical Legal Education provides much-needed legal services to residents of central New York. Many low-income residents of our community have no access to free or low-cost legal services. The need far outstrips available services. Syracuse University College of Law seeks to help fill this gap by providing free services to eligible clients while offering challenging learning opportunities for law students. Eager to begin practice, students apply their enthusiasm, energy, and talent to their first clients.
Potential Clients & Areas of Law
In the in-house clinics, students may represent indigent defendants in misdemeanor criminal cases; parents and children in child support, visitation, and custody matters; taxpayers in disputes with the IRS; litigants in disability and civil rights matters in federal courts; and community groups needing advice, counseling and transactional assistance. In the externship placements, students work under the guiding hand of experienced practitioners, in settings ranging from judicial chambers to prosecution and attorney general offices to legal aid and other public interest settings.
Students enrolled in the clinics and the externship program also participate in formal seminars and have other, regular interactions with their supervisors and mentors. These classes, individual meetings, and electronic communications are designed to encourage and develop the essential qualities of successful practitioners: competent lawyering skills including problem solving, interviewing, client counseling, fact investigation, research, drafting complaints and transactional documents, and litigation skills; an attention to ethical and professional norms; good judgment; reflective practice; and an awareness of the myriad factors that must be addressed to develop practical solutions to clients' legal problems.