Street Law Clinic

Southwestern students may find the application and other Legal Clinic details on the MySWLAW portal (log-in required).

Helping At-risk Youth in Our Community

Students enrolled in the Street Law Clinic teach law-related critical life skills to youth in Los Angeles, most of whom are involved in the  dependency or juvenile court system. Many of these young students also have learning disabilities, which qualifies them for special education services.  Law students step into the roles of teacher, mentor, and advocate to empower at-risk youth to make better choices, overcome adversity, and build stronger futures. The participatory lessons taught by the clinic law students inform the teenagers about their rights and the laws that apply to them, and provide legal information and resources they need to successfully transition to independent living and adulthood.

The law students participate in a weekly classroom component at Southwestern to prepare them to go into the community and teach one ninety-minute lesson each week for a period of 10-weeks. Through the class, the law students learn and practice the skills necessary to teach practical participatory education about the law. In addition, attorneys from public interest agencies visit as guest speakers to review the laws and answer questions in their areas of expertise that relate to this special population. During the semester, the law students also have the opportunity to visit Children's Court to observe hearings and tour Juvenile Hall, as well as speak with attorneys, probation officers and judges to gain a deeper understanding of these court systems, as many of the students they are teaching are involved or at risk of entering these systems.

Since the goal of the program is to give the young students legal information that will assist them for a successful transition to adulthood, the law students' outreach also includes an individual meeting with each youth to ensure that they have a transition plan, as well as to provide community resources specific to each student in various areas, including housing, education, and employment.

The Street Law Clinic provides Southwestern students the opportunity to enrich their own legal education while gaining an appreciation of the importance of providing public service to the greater community. The course is taught by Professor Laura Dym Cohen, Director of the Street Law Clinic and Public Service Programs, who has extensive experience in the area of children's and public interest law.