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. Clinics also teach lawyering skills. Each clinic also includes classroom sessions, tutorial meetings with the faculty member, and classroom “rounds” 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 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 six basic clinics may wish to continue their studies with any member of the clinic faculty for an additional semester in an advanced setting. Students must apply to the director of the clinic in which they seek to enroll. Admission and credit amount are determined prior to registration at the discretion of the faculty, in consultation with the Director of the Clinical Program. Credit is based upon the student’s expected time commitment, with the ratio of 1 credit to approximately 45 hours of work 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: The law school’s academic rules preclude you from participating in any clinic (including Advanced Advocacy Clinic) 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 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 private, 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 terminated or refused employment improperly, or by not being properly compensated under state or federal law, and individuals seeking Unemployment Compensation)
  • Government benefits (primarily individuals seeking Social Security disability benefits)
  • Consumer claims, which may include those dealing with the provision of utilities, and
  • Clearing the records of individuals who have been wrongly accused of child abuse or neglect, as these are often barriers to employment.

Faculty:  Visiting Assistant Professor Susanna Greenberg         

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 the semester (dates to be announced). If this Orientation cannot be scheduled, there may be additional classes in the first few weeks of the 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: Selection for admission to the CARES Clinic is through application.   

Students wishing to apply to CARES must answer the two essay questions (listed below) and submit their completed application (including contact information and year of graduation) and resume to the CARES paralegal, Debbie Rubino at deborah.rubino@law.villanova.edu, by the application deadline (the deadline is posted during  the Spring registration period).  

Please answer the following two questions, include as much detail as you think is necessary for us to evaluate your application: 

  1. What is your intention for participating in the CARES clinic?    What would you like to take away from the experience?

  2. What experiences have you had that may make your participation in the Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services valuable to its other members? (You might describe prior experience with people from other countries or cultures or with human rights or immigration law, prior experience in fact investigation, acting experience, writing experience, hobbies, or anything else you think might be relevant. Include any language abilities and fluency levels.)

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) provides direct representation to entrepreneurs, businesses, and social ventures from the Philadelphia region. With support, supervision and individualized mentoring from faculty, students are 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 student counselors 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.

We award a preference in client selection to ventures that align with Villanova University’s mission to: provide a public service to the community, better the human condition, create a more sustainable world, show concern for the poor, and foster responsible stewardship of the environment.

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 and confidence to analyze and solve problems by drawing upon your entire life experience and education
  • The ability to manage people, projects, and the complex demands of a lawyer’s workload
  • Certain fundamental lawyering competencies including fact-gathering and due diligence, framing a legal issue, planning, counseling, and drafting
  • Certain higher-level lawyering competencies including strategizing, communicating, collaborating, managing, and exercising ethical and professional judgment
  • An appreciation for the challenges and rewards of client service and a personal understanding of the demands of delivering exceptional client service
  • An understanding of how business context and relationships inform a lawyer’s work
  • An appreciation for habits of mind and personal qualities that contribute to successful performance as a lawyer, including thoughtfulness, diligence, courage, organization, responsiveness, reliability, and practicality
  • An appreciation for practical habits that contribute to successful performance as a lawyer, including methodical analysis, effective collaboration, efficient writing and crisp execution
  • An understanding of professionalism, your own professional identity, and a personal perspective on what it is to be a lawyer and how lawyers demonstrate value
  • A habit of cultivating personal and professional growth and satisfaction through reflection and self-analysis

Faculty: Visiting Assistant Professor Sharon Wilson

Credit Hours: Six

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: Fall and Spring  

Application Process: Lottery, with a preference given to third year students who have not taken a clinical course and a limited number of seats set aside for students in the Business Law Concentration.

Representing low-income workers in a variety of legal matters

The Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic is a community lawyering legal clinic that represents low wage workers and their families, and also provides legal support for organizations working to empower immigrant workers and end systemic injustices impacting these communities.

FLAC engages in traditional litigation cases in addition to other forms of advocacy, including community legal education, policy research and media outreach. Our direct services offer client-centered legal representation to individuals and their families living in remote areas of Pennsylvania. We have represented agricultural workers seeking redress for issues including wage theft, workers compensation, dangerous working conditions, unemployment and retaliatory discharge. We also represent workers and their families in deportation defense matters, which have included asylum, cancellation of removal proceedings, visa applications for immigrant youth and visas for victims of trafficking and other serious crimes.

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

 Students in the Farmworker Clinic will have the opportunity to:

  • Develop foundational lawyering skills, including interviewing, counseling, fact investigation, legal strategizing and oral advocacy
  • Take primary responsibility for client work—you are the advocate!
  • Create and execute legal research plans tailored to your client’s needs
  • Solve problems with creativity and curiosity
  • Reflect upon cultural differences and navigate trust-building in relationships with clients and colleagues
  • Communicate persuasively in a variety of professional formats, including drafting and submitting legal documents
  • Identify and navigate ethical dilemmas with integrity
  • Understand and articulate the practice of community lawyering
  • Understand and reflect on your own professional identity

Faculty:  Assistant Professor  Caitlin Barry 

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  pre-semester 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 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 non-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: Assistant Professor Christine Speidel

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 two-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 (in the spring semester only) 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, and the rules that govern their respective practices. Students will work individually or in interdisciplinary teams to represent several clients with legal problems in administrative hearings as well as state and federal court. In past years, students have won numerous services for clients who had been denied wheelchairs, skilled nursing, medicines, and therapies by their health insurers; successfully petitioned the court for guardians for persons unable to make decisions for themselves, and won disability benefits for adults and children with severe disabilities.     


Michael Campbell, Professor of Law

Professor Elizabeth Blunt, PhD, RN, APN, BC
Assistant Professor, Villanova College of Nursing (Spring Semester)

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 (Graduate nursing students in the Spring only)

Application Process: Lottery, with a preference given to third year students and those who enrolled in the health law concentration