Curriculum Guide · Courses
Law Students in Court
J.D. Clinic 552 | 10 credit hours (year long)
Each year Law Students in Court (LSIC) students and staff make hundreds of appearances in court. Students represent their clients in the D.C. Superior Court Civil Division, primarily in the Landlord and Tenant and Small Claims Branches. Some cases each year are in the Court’s regular Civil Division and some that start out in Landlord and Tenant or Small Claims courts require an administrative hearing, usually before the D.C. Housing Authority or the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings. LSIC works to fight the consequences of poverty, to prevent homelessness and to alleviate inequalities in the justice system. In a city where safe and sanitary housing for low and moderate income people is scarce, clinic students and staff provide a voice for the disadvantaged for both program clients and the many other people helped less formally each year. LSIC students’ presence at Landlord and Tenant court serves as a vital check in a court where pro se tenants are often taken advantage of by landlords and their experienced attorneys. As part of the clinic experience, students spend one day each week interviewing, counseling and assisting potential clients in the D.C. Landlord and Tenant Court. If appropriate for representation, a case is continued for responsive pleadings. The student then schedules a longer, more extensive interview with the potential client and does necessary fact investigation, and submits a case acceptance memo to the supervisor team that will decide whether the person will become a retained client. Once a person is accepted as a client, the student is responsible for all aspects of the case: initial pleadings, discovery, motions preparation and argument, and either negotiating a settlement or preparing the case for a bench or jury trial. Case work is guided and supervised by clinic supervising attorneys at each step in the process. The program offers a learning environment that focuses on case planning and preparation, courtroom experience and one-on-one working relationships with experienced instructors. Supervision and instruction emphasize litigation strategy and the skills necessary for effective lawyering. Class work and supervision promote reflection on what a lawyer’s role should and can be. The D.C. Law Students in Court Program (LSIC) is one of the oldest and most highly regarded clinical programs in the city. It began as an effort by five District law schools in conjunction with the Bench and the Bar to address the disparity in legal representation and assistance in two of the city’s highest volume courts. Current students will work alongside students selected from American and George Washington law schools to represent indigent clients in the District of Columbia.
A student may only en¬roll in Advanced Evidence: Trial Skills; Civil Litigation Practice; Patent Trial Practice; Trial Practice and Applied Evidence; Trial Practice: Working with Expert Witnesses; or any section of Trial Practice during a semester prior to enrolling for credit in the Center for Applied Legal Studies, Community Justice Project, Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy, Criminal Justice, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Justice, or Law Stu¬dents in Court Clinics. Students may not take Advanced Evidence: Trial Skills; Civil Litigation Practice; Patent Trial Practice; Trial Practice and Applied Evidence; Trial Practice: Working with Expert Witnesses; or any section of Trial Practice during the same semester or a subsequent semester in which they enroll in the Center for Applied Legal Studies, Community Justice Project, Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy, Criminal Justice, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Justice, or Law Stu¬dents in Court Clinics. Students may not concurrently enroll in this clinic and an externship or a practicum course.
See clinic course description in the online Curriculum Guide or the "Clinic Enrollment Policies" in the Bulletin.