Clinical Course Descriptions

CRIMINAL DEFENSE

The clinic combines hands-on trial experience with an educational seminar component tailored to developing criminal litigation skills. The Criminal Defense Clinic focuses on the representation of indigent and low-income clients charged with criminal offenses, both misdemeanor and felony cases, in Orange and Osceola County. The clinic’s goal is to make the student-attorney competent and prepared to represent a criminal defendant from arrest to the resolution of his/her case, and all things in-between. Students will realize in this clinic that working with poor people accused or convicted of crime is often exhilarating, sometimes grueling, and never boring. For some, it is life changing.

Pre-requisites: Criminal Law, Criminal Precedures and Professional Responsibility/Co-requisite: Evidence and Trial Practice

GUARDIAN AD LITEM

 This clinic focuses on legal advocacy on behalf of children, while providing students with a strong foundation in lawyering skills and values.  This clinic addresses constitutional, statutory, and common laws impacting children, including the legal interests of parents and the government and the law’s evolving conception of children’s rights.  In addition, the class examines the role of the child’s attorney and ethical considerations in representing children. 

The substantive areas discussed include dependency, delinquency, guardianship, mental health, disability, medical decision-making, school law, child support, emancipation, family violence, and immigration. Special emphasis is placed on dependency law, including abuse and neglect, foster care, termination of parental rights, adoption, children’s right to services and protection from harm, and state liability for harm.  In addition, students are required to participate in intake proceedings at the local Legal Aid Society office during the week and obtain a set number of court observation hours in both dependency and delinquency court.

Pre-requisite:  Professional Responsibility/Co-requisite:  Trial Practice

HOMELESSNESS AND LEGAL ADVOCACY

 This clinic offers a comprehensive set of legal services focused on assisting and empowering low income individuals in their interaction with the legal system.  Students explore the facets of homelessness and the role of legal advocacy in addressing its causes and alleviating its consequences. Students have the opportunity to handle real clients and real cases ranging from family law, domestic violence, landlord/tenant, public housing, public benefits and consumer law. 

The majority of our clients come from one on one intake meetings with students at two of the local homeless shelters.  The student conduct interviews of homeless individuals under the supervision of a staff attorney at the Coalition for the Homeless every week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Women’s Residential Counseling Center facilities and assess the problems.  Students also conduct in-house intake of individuals who contact the clinic seeking assistance once a week.

Pre-requisite:  Professional Responsibility/Co-requisite:  Trial Practice

HOUSING

 Students in this clinic help protect the rights of low-income tenants who are faced with an immediate threat of losing their homes due to an eviction.  In addition, students assist housing applicants who are requesting a return of their security deposit, seeking to avoid utility shut-offs and lock-outs, and termination of public housing and Section 8 assistance.  Students handling these cases touch upon areas of contract and property law, as well as other areas that overlap in housing matters, such as torts, administrative law, guardianship, probate, and bankruptcy.  Students are supervised and trained to handle all aspects of a housing case. 

This real world training of intricate and complex housing cases prepares students for trial work.  Under the supervision of faculty and/or a staff attorney, the students have an opportunity to learn several key legal skills in the following areas:  interviewing clients; investigating cases; researching legal issues; counseling clients; negotiating with opposing parties; drafting pleadings; motions and discovery; and representing clients in mediation and in court.  Because of the unique nature of these cases, students have the rare opportunity to handling cases from beginning to end.  Students benefit from a basic working knowledge of substantive law, court rules and procedures, as well as important advocacy skills. 

Pre-requisite:  Professional Responsibility/Co-requisite:  Trial Practice

JUDICIAL EXTERNSHIP

 This externship provides students with the incomparable advantage of working with local judges.  The experience affords students the ability to peer into the inner-workings behind judicial rulings and how juries decide cases.  Students research and write on a broad variety of legal topics, enabling them to hone their research and writing skills and sharpen their analytical reasoning under the direct supervision of members of the bench.  Many judges also offer observation of court proceedings.

Pre-requisite:  Professional Responsibility and a current GPA of 3.00 or higher

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