The University of La Verne College of Law has long been a pioneer in providing practical skills training to its law students to help them develop skills which make them practice-ready. These programs provide services to the local community and allow students to benefit from the opportunity to work on actual cases under the supervision of knowledgeable faculty and practicing lawyers.

The College of Law’s clinical curriculum is comprised of three components: the Lawyering Skills Practicum course, a highly successful Externship Program, and various live-client clinical opportunities.

Lawyering Skills Practicum

The core of our clinical program is Lawyering Skills Practicum, a required course, which is a simulated law practice under the guidance of senior partners.

Our students form partnerships, establish a local bar, and write the rules to govern their actions. They interview their client; negotiate a fee arrangement; write and file appropriate pleadings; pursue all evidence via discovery; prepare, file, and argue all appropriate motions including a summary judgment motion; write briefs; and bring their matter before a judicial officers to resolve by arbitration, mediation, or by a jury.

Clinical Externships

La Verne College of Law’s clinical externship program places upper-division students with public agencies or non-profit law firms to provide an opportunity to study the legal process through community-based clinical placements and to apply the knowledge and skills developed in law school in a practical setting.

Our students choose their externship with a non-profit legal agency, legal service office, public interest group, or government agency (Public Defender, District Attorney, etc.). In these placements, the students are accountable to their on-site attorney supervisors.

Live-Client Clinics

The College of Law has established two live-client clinics that provide practical training experiences for our students. These clinical experiences do not simply give our students the opportunity to improve their skills; they also give students a chance to demonstrate to the surrounding legal community the quality of their work and further, to develop an ethic of service that values the importance of enhancing the local community of which they are members. The two live-client clinical opportunities offered by the College of Law are the Disability Rights Legal Center Clinic and the Justice & Immigration Clinic.

Disability Rights Legal Center Clinic
Los Angeles-based Disability Rights Legal Center (DRLC) opened an Inland Empire clinic on the campus of La Verne College of Law in Spring 2007. Through the following projects, La Verne Law students participating in DRLC’s clinic address some of the most extreme problems for people with disabilities in the Inland Empire: the Education Advocacy Project (EAP), the Civil Rights Litigation Project and the Community Advocacy Program (CAP). These services are provided free of charge for low income families.

EAP: Through the EAP, our law students provide representation of families of children with disabilities in special education proceedings. Each law student is assigned at least one EAP case and participates in every aspect of that case, including case planning, client interviews and meetings, individualized education program (IEP) meetings, section 504 meetings, mediations and due process hearings. Each semester, our students also participate in Special Education Advocacy Academies to teach community members about special education and to assist parents in advocating for their children.

Civil Rights Litigation Project: The Civil Rights Litigation Program, provides representation for low-income individuals with disabilities facing discrimination. We concentrate on impact litigation – cases that will establish important legal principles or benefit large groups of people with disabilities. Our law students participate in client interviews; conduct factual research (including site visits)’ perform legal research; take and defend depositions; draft written discovery, memoranda, complaints and briefs; and handle mediations, negotiations, hearings, trials, appeals, and amicus submissions.

CAP: Through the CAP program, our students conduct client interviews for each caller to the DRLC from San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Following the interview, they meet with the supervising attorney to evaluate the case and then determine the next appropriate action. As part of this process, our students are charged with informing callers of their options – including litigation, mediation and self-help – to assist the callers in deciding which option to pursue, as well as identifying appropriate resources and referrals for the caller.

To learn more about the Disability Rights Legal Center Clinic, you may contact Professor Elizabeth Eubanks at (909) 460-2034 or at elizabeth.eubanks@lls.edu. You may also visit the DRLC website at www.disabilityrightslegalcenter.org.

Justice & Immigration Clinic
The Justice and Immigration Clinic (JIC), is primarily a litigation clinic which opened in January of 2008. While the practice area of the clinic is immigration, this clinic is especially appropriate for those who wish to become litigators. JIC provides pro bono representation to immigrants seeking asylum or alternative forms of humanitarian relief in the United States due to political, religious, and other human rights persecution. Asylum can lead to permanent residency and U.S. citizenship. JIC has represented refugees from a variety of countries.

JIC seeks to provide students to provide the opportunity to take a case from inception to completion at either an asylum interview or a hearing before the Immigration Court. Law students accepted into the program work in pairs to represent an asylum applicant under the supervision of the Director of the clinic. Throughout the semester students develop the case, counsel the client, and prepare for an asylum interview or an immigration court hearing. They interview the client and other potential witnesses, investigate the facts of the client’s story, conduct research on country conditions, draft declarations, complete the asylum application, engage in case planning, and draft a brief in support of the case. Students often seek expert witnesses to provide written opinions and testimony in a case. In each stage of the case, students are challenged to develop a cohesive legal theory of the case, considering each fact and how the facts can be proven through admissible evidence. In preparation for a hearing, the students draft direct examination questions, prepare witnesses, as well as opening and closing statements. Students represent the client at the hearing, while the supervising attorney remains present and available for advice and consultation.

All of the skills listed above are important to become an excellent attorney. JIC strives to provide students with many opportunities to build these skills by giving personal feedback, as well as having students engage in peer review and self-evaluation. Self-reflection and self-evaluation are necessary practices and skills to support lifelong learning.

For more information about the Justice and Immigration Clinic, please contact Professor Diane Uchimiya at (909) 460-2031 or duchimiya@laverne.edu.