Southwestern's clinical program offers law students an ideal setting in which to gain greater practical skills and an invaluable real-context view of the law in action while contributing much needed services to the community. The Children's Rights Clinic, Immigration Law Clinic, and Street Law Clinic provide students with hands-on experience representing indigent and otherwise underrepresented children and families. Students in the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) Civil Rights Clinic apply their practical skills while assisting in DFEH cases.
Through the Children's Rights and Immigration Law live-client clinics, students are given full responsibility for a case under the supervision of a clinical faculty member. They learn how to investigate, research, and analyze the relevant facts and law and how to pursue and weigh alternative legal strategies. Students further develop their research and writing skills through the preparation of memoranda and briefs, and may have the chance to hone their advocacy skills through oral argument, examination of witnesses and presentation of evidence at hearings. Through the Street Law Clinic, students teach law-related critical life skills to youth in the Los Angeles dependency, delinquency and special education systems, honing their presentation skills and translating the law in a simpler, more practical manner.
The DFEH Civil Rights Clinic allows students to gain hands-on experience in handling DFEH mediations and investigating claims under the supervision of a faculty member. Through the classroom component, they are taught how to evaluate the merits of a case, from analyzing the interests of and developing relationships with the various parties, to valuing the case, developing negotiation strategies and developing a case plan.
Our law clinics help build students' skills, promote an ethic of public service, and help Southwestern as an institution contribute to putting lawyering skills in the service of disadvantaged members of our community.
Clinic students must adhere to professional responsibility requirements such as client confidentiality, civility (particularly towards opposing counsel) and duty to the court, and learn how to exhibit empathy and professionalism when counseling clients.
In addition to working directly with clients, the clinical experience includes a training session, a weekly classroom component focusing on legal skills and professionalism, and individual weekly meetings with the clinic professor. The low student-faculty ratio and close supervision enables students to develop a meaningful and close relationship with clinical faculty.