Community Law Clinic
Students in our Community Law Clinic represent clients who could not otherwise afford a lawyer in a wide variety of cases, both litigation (state and federal courts) and non-litigation. These include:
- Criminal misdemeanors
- Domestic relations (including divorce, child custody and support, adoption, and domestic violence protection)
- Consumer matters
This practice resembles cases in which the majority of Idaho lawyers participate. Most cases are small enough that they can be completed in the time that a student is involved in the clinic program. A few are more complex, and have resulted in student participation in trials lasting a week or more.
Community Law Clinic serves over 100 clients in 2018.
The Community Law Clinic, the College of Law’s only general practice clinic, provided legal assistance to 132 people in 2018. With 20 students working in the Community Law Clinic over the course of the year, the Clinic was able to provide free legal services in a broad range of cases, including family law matters, landlord-tenant disputes, criminal misdemeanor defense, and collections defense. Students also drafted wills, served as guardian ad litem in adult guardianship actions, and helped clients secure domestic violence protection orders. One student had the opportunity to obtain birth certificates for a woman who gave birth to her children at home, and two students had the privilege of completing the adoptions for two families. In our final week of the semester, the students finalized six cases alone, including three divorce cases, two custody cases, and a guardianship appointment! In total, our students provided approximately 2,700 hours of free legal work to our community, valued at roughly $270,000 (if calculated at $100 per hour).
We run the Community Law Clinic as a small, general practice firm, similar to those found in rural communities across the country. We are the main legal aid provider for our county, so the need for our services is great. In the Community Law Clinic, students engage in all aspects of the case. On any given day, we have students meeting with clients, advocating for clients in negotiations and mediations, arguing in court, drafting legal documents, writing letters and emails, managing their paper files and electronic files, documenting their work and learning to track their time through our case management program. The goal of the Community Law Clinic is to train students to effectively practice law and be competent lawyers immediately upon graduation and passage of the bar.
Cooper Wright, a current student in the Community Law Clinic, shared the following about his experience:
“Working with Jessica is great! She makes the Community Law Clinic an enjoyable and rewarding learning experience. Clinic provides you with the tools necessary to the practice of law that you don’t get in any other classes. It gives you the opportunity to work individually with clients and manage a wide range of cases. Clinic allows you to develop the important skill of drafting a variety of legal documents in different areas of the law.”
With approximately 40 cases still open, 2019 will be another busy year for the Community Law Clinic. One of our students is also pairing up with two students from our Boise location, and one student from our Mediation Clinic, to participate in a global settlement conference representing a prisoner in his civil rights claims against the prison and various prison guards. The students will also have the challenge of appearing for the first time in front of Latah County, Idaho’s newest magistrate judge, Megan Marshall, a 2011 graduate of the College of Law.