About the Clinics

Clinic Students with Professors Segal and Miller-Wilson

What is a Clinic?

A “clinic” is a course in which students represent clients under the direct supervision of a full-time member of the Villanova Law School faculty. Students engage in the practice of law, which enables them to reflect on the interaction between practice and theory and on the role of the lawyer in our society. Each clinic also includes classroom sessions, tutorial meetings with the faculty member, and classroom work on assigned cases.

Since clinics are courses, second and third year students can earn credit for experiential learning. In all clinics, students represent real clients with critical legal issues.

Students work in various legal settings and they experience the satisfaction of functioning as a professional representing a client who otherwise may not receive legal representation.

Students interested in taking a clinic should not feel that they must have a particular interest in a specific area of law – this is not a prerequisite. In fact, students often excel in learning a new area of law and using that knowledge to benefit their clients.

Do Students Have Direct Responsibility for the
Representation of Clients?

Student responsibility for the legal representation of clients is the central feature of Villanova’s Clinical Program.  Clinical students acquire fundamental lawyering skills by assuming direct responsibility for case management and preparation.  The client is fundamentally your client.

  • You interview, counsel and manage all communications with your client
  • You identify your client’s goals, as well as the issues affecting your clients and the resources available for resolving them 
  • You develop a case theory and a case plan to achieve the client’s goals
  • You identify and resolve the ethical issues that arise in your case 
  • You investigate the facts of your client’s case
  • You find the law controlling your client’s case
  • You draft complaints, answers, motions, evidentiary exhibits, applications, briefs, contracts, research memos, organizational documents, professional correspondence, and more
  • You conduct diligence and discovery
  • You are lead counsel at trials and hearings and in negotiations and board meetings

 

Clinic Course Descriptions

A limited number of students who have already completed a semester in any one of the  basic clinics in the clinical program may have the opportunity to continue their studies with any member of the clinic faculty for an additional semester in an advanced setting. Students may apply to the director of the clinic in which they are interested in enrolling. Admission and credit amount are determined prior to registration at the discretion of the faculty, in consultation with the Director of the Clinical Program. Credits will be based upon the student’s expected time commitment, with the ratio of 1 credit to approximately 4-5 hours work per week in the clinic. Course credit for the Advanced Advocacy Clinic can range from 2-4 credits. Students must receive written permission from the Director of the Clinical Program to register for this course.

 

NOTE: If you are enrolled in a clinic and your case carries over to the next semester, and you wish to continue work on your case, you will not be able to remain working with your case as an Advanced Advocacy Clinic student if you are enrolled in an Externship for that semester.

 

Representing low-income clients in a variety of civil proceedings

In the Civil Justice Clinic, students work as practicing lawyers, representing low-income clients in a range of civil disputes.  While providing legal representation to clients as part of our own “law firm”, students will make a real impact on the lives of their clients while also examining the role and professional responsibilities of all lawyers through first hand experience.  Each student will represent several clients with legal problems in different substantive areas, which may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Family law (parents and other parties in custody matters, support, paternity and related legal issues)
  • Housing (tenants of public and subsidized housing seeking to preserve their housing by preventing evictions and in enforcing their right to decent, safe and sanitary housing; homeowners seeking to retain their homes in civil forfeiture proceedings)
  • Employment (individuals who have been denied their rights by being refused employment improperly, or by not being properly compensated under state law, and individuals seeking Unemployment Compensation)
  • Government benefits (primarily individuals seeking Social Security disability benefits and/or medical assistance)
  • Consumer claims, which may include those dealing with the provision of utilities and those arising from improper reports from credit reporting agencies, and
  • Clearing the records of individuals who have been wrongly accused of child abuse or neglect.

 

Faculty:  Professor Dveera Segal          

Credit Hours:  Six 

  •   The Civil Justice Clinic satisfies the practical writing requirement.

Prerequisites:  Evidence.

  •     Second year students cannot take this class in the Fall semester.

Time Commitment:  In addition to the time requirement for the seminar class and simulations, students are expected to spend an average of 15 hours per week on their cases.

Semesters Offered:  Fall and Spring

Application Process:  Lottery, with a preference given to third year students who have not taken a clinical course. Priority may be given to no more than two (2) rising second year students in the Spring semester only.

Extra Classes:  A mandatory, week long, all day, intensive orientation “boot camp” will take place prior to the start of Spring semester only (dates to be announced). This pre-class orientation does not occur prior to the Fall semester.

 

Representing asylum seekers before Federal Immigration Court and in interviews before Asylum Officers

The Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES), is an international human rights and immigration clinic. Students represent refugees who have fled human rights abuses in their home countries and seek religious or political asylum in the United States.  Working in pairs, CARES students are assigned to represent from beginning to end one or more refugees fleeing human rights abuses in a court proceeding before an Immigration Judge.  Every semester the work of CARES students results in saving the lives of their clients and reuniting their clients with family members. 

In the past, CARES has represented and won asylum for refugees from countries such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Lebanon, Liberia, Mauritania, Mexico, Nicaragua, Russia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, The Ivory Coast, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.  Global conditions, among other factors, will determine where CARES concentrates its resources.

What is asylum?

Throughout the world today people are suffering from human rights abuses – they live under constant fear of governments that forbid them from exercising rights that we hold dear as fundamental freedoms and persecute them if they try.

Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries Asylum from persecution.

                        - Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 14(I)

Asylum is an immigration status that the U.S. government confers on people who have fled persecution or have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home countries because of who they are (their race or nationality), what they believe (their religion or political opinion) or their social group.

Throughout its history, the United States has been a sanctuary for oppressed people from around the world. The Pilgrims, the Quakers, the Huguenots, the Amish, and countless others came to U.S. shores in centuries past to seek refuge from government oppression. Pennsylvania became a safe haven to many of those victims of government oppression.

Human rights abuses similar to those that caused Pennsylvania's first settlers to flee continue today in many parts of the world. CARES helps the victims of these human rights abuses to obtain asylum protection.

Faculty:   Professor Michele Pistone      

Credit Hours: Eight 

  •        CARES satisfies the practical writing requirement.

Prerequisites: None

Time Commitment:  30-35 hours/week

Semesters Offered:  Fall and Spring

Application Process: Written Application

Extra Classes:  During the Orientation Period (usually the first 3 or 4 weeks of the semester), there will be extra classes each week. The classes will be scheduled before the semester begins based on students’ academic class schedules and availability.

Advising for-profit and non-profit enterprises on a diverse array of challenges common to launching, operating and growing sustainable businesses

Students in the new Clinic for Law and Entrepreneurship (CLE) will provide direct representation to entrepreneurs, businesses, and social ventures from the Philadelphia region. With support, supervision and individualized mentoring from faculty, students will be vested with primary responsibility for advising both for-profit and non-profit enterprises on a diverse array of challenges common to launching, operating and growing sustainable businesses. CLE counsels can expect to assist clients to structure entities for their businesses, to draft, review and negotiate contracts on their behalf, to protect and leverage their intellectual property, to structure relationships with employees and independent contractors, and to maintain regulatory compliance, among other things. The CLE does not litigate on behalf of its clients.

Weekly seminars utilizing case studies, simulations, lectures and case rounds discussion will expose students to some of the essential concepts, perspectives, and competencies that transactional lawyers should understand and possess. Seminars are not designed to teach the substantive law that students will need to know in order to counsel their clients; students will primarily educate themselves about the substantive law in the process of representing their clients (as they would in practice). In addition to the twice-weekly seminar, students will meet with faculty for at least one hour each week to discuss and develop strategies for resolving challenges and dilemmas encountered in their client work.

The CLE will encourage you to develop a core set of skills and perspectives that will benefit you in any area of practice you enter after law school:

  • The ability to analyze and solve problems by drawing upon your entire life experience and education
  • An understanding of professionalism, your own professional identify, and a personal perspective on what it is to be a lawyer and how lawyers demonstrate value
  • The ability and confidence to tackle unfamiliar issues by learning what you need to learn in order to get the job done
  • The ability to manage people, projects, and the complex demands of a lawyer’s workload 
  • Certain fundamental lawyering competencies including fact-gathering, framing a legal issue, planning, counseling, and drafting
  • Certain higher level lawyering competencies including strategizing, communicating, collaborating, managing and exercising judgment
  • An appreciation for the challenges and rewards of client service and a personal understanding of the demands of delivering exceptional client service
  • A habit of cultivating personal and professional growth and satisfaction through reflection and self-analysis

Faculty: Assistant Professor Melanie M. McMenamin

Credit Hours: Six

  • Pending faculty approval, participation in this clinic will satisfy the practical writing requirement

Prerequisites: None

Time Commitment: In addition to the time requirement for the seminar class and simulations, students are expected to spend an average of 14-16 hours per week on their cases.

Semesters Offered: Spring 2015

Application Process: Lottery, with a preference given to third year students who have not taken a clinical course.

Representing low-income workers in a variety of legal matters

Students in the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic (FLAC) work in teams of two to represent clients who are living and working in agricultural and agriculture-related settings throughout eastern Pennsylvania. Students represent farmworkers in a variety of legal matters to help their clients meet their basic needs. Current case priorities include workers’ compensation claims for people who need long-term care for work-based injuries, wage claims, family law, and immigration. Fora include Workers’ Compensation Court, Courts of Common Pleas, Magisterial District Justice Courts, and U.S. Department of Justice Immigration Courts.

Because farmworkers are extremely isolated, education and trust building are key components of lawyering for this community. Therefore, in the Fall semester, each student will spend at least one half-day traveling to a farm labor camp during the Adams County apple-picking season to participate in a know-your-rights outreach presentation.

Most student teams will work with Spanish-speaking clients through interpreters and manage non-traditional offsite client consultation settings.

 

Faculty:  Professor Beth Lyon  

Credit Hours:  Six

  •      Farmworker Clinic satisfies practical writing requirement.

Prerequisites:  Completion of three semesters of law school. Second year students cannot take this class in the Fall semester.

Time Commitment:  In addition to the time requirement for the seminar class and simulations, students are expected to spend an average of 15 hours per week on their cases.

Semesters Offered:  Fall and Spring

Application Process: Admission is on a lottery basis through the Registrar’s Office. Preference will be given to third year students who have not taken a clinical course. Priority may be given to two (2) rising second year students in the Spring semester only.

Extra Classes: There will be a three-day Orientation Period.

Four hours are reserved each week for class but will be used as needed, totaling 42 hours of class.

Representing low-income taxpayers in various federal tax proceedings

Students in the Federal Tax Clinic represent low-income taxpayers in controversies with the IRS, both before the IRS and in federal court. Students will work in teams to represent taxpayers involving examinations, administrative appeals, collection matters and cases before the United States Tax Court and Federal District Courts.  In the past, students’ representation has resulted in substantial taxpayer benefits, including taxpayer receipt of many thousands of dollars of refunds, relief from joint and several liability for innocent spouses, and reduction of tax liabilities through successful negotiated resolutions or compromises of liabilities based upon taxpayer financial hardship. The work of students in the Villanova Federal Tax Clinic has often been the key difference for taxpayers attempting to prove the amount or existence of a federal tax liability or eligibility for refundable credits that can have a significant impact on a taxpayer’s financial condition.

The class work component of the Tax Clinic includes substantive review of issues common to the low income taxpayer community.  Therefore, you do not need to have extensive experience with tax law to enroll in this Clinic.  You will also be given the tools to problem-solve on behalf of the client.  The skills you will learn in this Clinic, as in any other Clinic, transcend the substantive law and will benefit you no matter what area of practice you choose after law school.

 

Faculty:  Professor Keith Fogg and Professor Linda Vines

Credit Hours: Four 

  • The Tax Clinic satisfies the practical writing requirement.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Taxation

Time Commitment:  Approximately 12-15 hours per week

Semesters Offered:  Fall and Spring

Application Process:  Lottery, with a preference given to third year students who have not previously been enrolled in a clinical course. Priority may be given to two (2) second year students in the Spring semester only. (Second year students cannot take the Tax Clinic for the Fall semester.)

Extra Classes:   There will be a mandatory three-day, all day, Orientation Period scheduled to take place prior to the beginning of the semester.

Representing low-income clients in a variety of health-related matters and fora

In the Interdisciplinary Mental and Physical Health Law Clinic, law students and graduate nursing students work collaboratively in teams, assisting low-income clients to understand and assert their rights within the health care system, and to overcome barriers to accessing necessary treatment. Students will make a real impact on the lives of their clients while learning substantive law and procedure, and sharpening their skills in interviewing, counseling, negotiation, and case presentation. At the same time, they will compare the roles of health care providers and advocates, as well as the rules that govern their respective practices. Students will work in interdisciplinary teams to represent several clients with legal problems in areas which may include, but are not limited to:

  • Publicly financed health benefits (Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, etc.)
  • Surrogate decision making, including guardianship law 
  • Benefits and other rights of persons with disabilities
  • Federal and state laws protecting rights of health care consumers to accessible, quality treatment

 

Faculty:  

Credit Hours: Six

  • Interdisciplinary Mental and Physical Health Law Clinic satisfies practical writing requirement.

Prerequisites: Evidence

Time Commitment (Law Students): In addition to the time requirement for the seminar class, students are expected to spend an average of 14-16 hours per week on their cases.

Semesters Offered: Fall and Spring

Application Process: Lottery, with a preference given to third year students and those who express an interest in this clinic.

Note: This course WILL be offered in both the Fall and Spring semesters. The College of Nursing may not be participating in this course in the Fall. In that case, the Health Law Clinic will still be offered but it may not be interdisciplinary in nature.

 

Contact Us

Villanova University
School of Law
Clinical Program

299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
Phone: (610) 519-5894
Linea Espanola: (866) 655-4419
Fax: (610) 519-5173

If you would like more information on applying for admission to Villanova University School of Law, please email admissions or call the Admissions Office at (610) 519-7010.