LEGAL CLINICS

Our Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services is among the first of its kind in the country through which faculty and students from the disciplines of law, psychology, and social work collaborate to help clients in need.

In the Center, law students frequently work side-by-side with students from the University of St. Thomas School of Social Work and Graduate School of Psychology. Under the guidance of the Center faculty, law students provide representation and assistance to the underserved populations of the Twin Cities on problems ranging from health care issues to political asylum to issues of social justice.

The St. Thomas legal clinics are supported through a generous donation from Robins Kaplan LLP.

Clinics Include: 

Appellate Clinic
The Appellate Clinic works on pro bono civil appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in collaboration with the University of Arkansas. Under the supervision of Professor Greg Sisk, students review the trial court record, identify and research issues for appeal, prepare an opening brief and a reply brief, and a student may be designated to present the oral argument to the court. 

Bankruptcy Litigation Clinic 
The Bankruptcy Litigation Clinic involves representing an indigent party in Federal Bankruptcy Court. Students will handle cases from beginning to end. The student may draft a complaint, answer, conduct discovery, participate in motion practice, and finally, defend the client at the trial.  Typical cases involve representing either a debtor who has been sued for a denial of discharge, or representing a creditor to have one or more of the creditor's claims declared non-dischargeable.

Community Justice Project
The Community Justice Project focuses on bridge building with community stakeholders and problem solving in distressed communities. The Community Justice Project will take a comprehensive look at improving the lives of the African American community in the Twin Cities. The CJP has engaged in intensive research into practical solutions to longstanding challenges such as racial disparities in the criminal justice system, police brutality, and racial disparities in the educational and juvenile justice systems for at-risk youth.

Criminal and Juvenile Defense Clinic
Students in the Criminal and Juvenile Defense Clinic represent both children and adults accused of crimes in Hennepin County and the greater Twin Cities area. Students have the opportunity to represent clients from the start to finish of a case, and appear regularly in court for arraignments, conferences, motions hearings, bench trials, jury trials and sentencing hearings. Students develop skills in fact investigation, client counseling, interviewing, negotiation, motions writing, oral argument, witness examination, jury selection, and all other aspects of pretrial and trial litigation.

Federal Commutations Clinic 
The first of its kind in the country, the Federal Commutations Clinic explores issues of commutation and looks particularly at cases when students may assist individuals seeking a commutation of sentence. Students investigate requests for assistance, analyze the merits of cases, and make recommendations about whether or not to pursue a particular case. Participation in the Federal Commutations Clinic is likely to involve travel to federal penitentiaries. 

Immigration Law Practice Group
Students in the Immigration Law Practice Group will represent immigrants seeking to improve legal status in the United States. Students in this practice group may represent persons seeking asylum in the United States as a result of persecution or a fear of persecution in their home countries; provide representation for individuals at Detained Master Calendar Hearings, and participate in immigrant related advocacy projects on behalf of community organizations. 

Nonprofit Organizations Clinic
The Nonprofit Organizations Clinic focuses on the legal needs of existing and aspiring nonprofit organizations. This clinic is designed to help nonprofits get off the ground and sustain themselves as they promote social and economic justice here and abroad. Students who participate in this clinic are likely to volunteer for nonprofit organizations; learn about governance, compliance, operations, and management; and help promote servant leadership and social justice.

Religious Liberty Appellate Clinic
This clinical course gives a small number of students each semester the opportunity to write appellate briefs, primarily amicus curiae briefs, in cases involving religious liberty in the U.S. Supreme Court, lower federal courts, and state appellate courts. The primary clients are national civil-liberties organizations and national religious organizations. Each student should expect to draft one appellate brief and, depending on workload, other written work product. Through readings as well as practice, students will learn basic principles of religious liberty, conscience protection, and appellate writing, including intensive writing work and attention to the distinctive strategic issues in drafting effective amicus briefs.

Special Education Clinic
The Special Education Clinic provides pro bono assistance to elementary and secondary students who have been identified as qualifying for special education services pursuant to an individualized education program (IEP), with a particular focus on students of color with EBD (emotional behavioral disorder) diagnoses. Students represent clients in reviewing IEP plans to ascertain compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requirements and ensure documentation of progress toward identified goals. Students will share these findings with parents, and may attend annual IEP meetings with parents, providing support and helping negotiate more accurate diagnoses and more effective IEP plans. Clients are referred to the clinic through community partners, and not through self-referrals.

Trademark Clinic
Students in the Trademark Clinic practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), counseling clients regarding trademark matters, and drafting and filing trademark applications, responses to PTO actions and other documents in trademark applications. The Trademark Clinic is certified by the PTO.