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Clinics

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Criminal Law Defense Practicum

Students in the Criminal Law Defense Practicum work as student defense attorneys at either the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) or with Bar Advocates within the Hampden & Hampshire County District Courts. By court rule, students in the Practicum are authorized to practice in any District Court case, which includes a mix of both misdemeanors and felonies. Typical of the offenses litigated by students in the District Court are possession and/or distribution of controlled substances, assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, violation of a restraining order, larceny, assault and battery on a police officer, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. During the course of the semester, a student attorney will appear in three different sessions of the District Court: the arraignment session (in which students represent indigent defendants in bail hearings), the motion session (in which students prepare and litigate motions to suppress and motions to dismiss) and, ultimately, the trial session (in which students prepare and litigate jury and jury-waived trials.) This clinic allows students to gain substantial exposure over the course of the semester to the entire process of litigating a criminal case. 

Seminar: In addition to the fieldwork as a student attorney at CPCS and with Bar Advocates, there is a classroom component which operates as a combination seminar/simulation. This part of the course is quite intensive for the first three or four weeks of the semester as well as the week prior to the start of classes. Students must attend a one-day orientation the week before classes begin, no exceptions will be made to this mandatory orientation. Following this initial training period, the class will meet at a designated time for a two-hour session on a weekly basis for the balance of the semester.

Practicum Director: Tracy Magdalene, Adjunct Professor of Law 

Criminal Law Prosecution Practicum

Students in the Criminal Law Prosecution Practicum work as student assistant district attorneys within the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office. By court rule, students in the Practicum are authorized to practice in any District Court case, which includes a mix of both misdemeanors and felonies. Typical of the offenses litigated by students in the District Court are possession and/or distribution of controlled substances, domestic violence offenses including assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and violation of a restraining order, larceny, assault and battery on a police officer, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. During the course of the semester, a student attorney will appear in three different sessions of the District Court: the arraignment session (in which students represent the Commonwealth in bail hearings), the motion session (in which students prepare and litigate oppositions to motions to suppress and motions to dismiss) and, ultimately, the trial session (in which a student prepare and litigate jury and jury-waived trials). This Practicum allows students to gain substantial exposure over the course of the semester to the entire process of litigating a criminal case.

Seminar: In addition to the fieldwork as a student attorney within the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office, there is a classroom component which operates as a combination seminar/simulation. This part of the course is quite intensive for the first three or four weeks of the semester as well as the week prior to the start of classes. Students must attend a two day orientation the week before classes begin, no exceptions will be made to this mandatory orientation. Following this initial training period, the class will meet at a designated time for a two-hour session on a weekly basis for the balance of the semester.

Practicum DirectorMary Hiser, Adjunct Professor of Law 

Family Defense Practicum

The Family Defense Practicum is a collaboration between Western New England School of Law and the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS), the statewide public defender system. Participants in the Family Defense Practicum will spend sixteen hours a week at their jobsite working as student lawyers under the supervision of staff attorneys in the Children and Family Law (CAFL) division of CPCS. The CAFL division provides legal representation to both children and indigent parents in family regulation cases, including care and protection proceedings, actions to terminate parental rights, guardianship-of-a-minor cases, and any other child custody proceeding where the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is a party or where the court is considering granting custody to DCF. Student lawyers will have the chance to represent parents in family regulation proceedings as well as child clients who are verbal and can articulate their position. Students may also have the opportunity to represent infants and toddlers, in which the student lawyer will aid in substituting judgment for the child. Students will gain experience in interviewing clients and witnesses, legal research and writing, engaging in negotiations in the context of multiple party litigation. Further, students may also have the chance to litigate portions of hearings. 

Students who participate in the Family Defense Practicum will be eligible for the CAFL-WNEU pipeline program that can expedite their admission to the CAFL panel after graduation.

Seminar:  In addition to the fieldwork, Family Defense Practicum students attend a regularly scheduled weekly seminar meeting.

Prerequisite: LAWE788 or LAWW788, Child Protection Law Simulation and LAW 553, Evidence. Evidence amy be taken concurrently with the Practicum.

Practicum Director: Jacquelyn O'Brien, Adjunct Professor

Family Law Mediation Clinic

The Family Mediation Clinic is a collaboration between Western New England School of Law, The Hampden Probate and Family Court and the Mediation and Training Collaborative (TMTC) of Greenfield in which accepted law students will co-mediate and participate in the mediation process at court-ordered mediation sessions.  

In-Court Mediation

The Family Mediation Clinic is a collaboration between Western New England School of Law, The Hampden Probate and Family Court, and the Collaborative Resolutions Group (CRG) of Greenfield in which accepted law students will co-mediate and participate in the mediation process at court-ordered mediation sessions.  The Hampden Probate and Family Court has been running a pilot mediation program with the help of CRG, wherein one afternoon per week, CRG mediators meet with clients (usually pro-se) who have been ordered by the court to attend one two-hour mediation session. The mediation sessions are free and conducted by mediators on the CRG roster.  Mediations occurring during the course of the semester will be conducted by the clinic supervisor and co-mediated with clinic students.  Students will be involved in co-mediating cases at the courthouse, or via zoom, observing and reflecting on mediations, learning how to perform intakes, and performing intakes in conjunction with CRG.  The Clinic is comprised of two parts - the court clinic itself and the seminar class following the court clinic. The court clinic will be held on Thursdays from 9:00 AM to 1:15 PM each week at the Hampden Probate and Family Court or via Zoom.  The court clinic will be immediately followed by the seminar from 1:30 to 2:30 PM either at the court house or via zoom.  At the beginning of the semester, one student will spend the early part of the day performing intakes with CRG while the other students co-mediate or observe the mediations at the courthouse.  The one-hour seminar class will include further mediation instruction, reflection on observations and group discussion, guest lecturers, skill building, role plays, discussion of ethics, and other topics relevant to the clinic and mediation in general.

Seminar: Students enrolled in this clinic must also concurrently enroll in the one-credit seminar to be held each week at the court house following mediation sessions on Thursday. The clinic seminar will provide an overview of mediation practice including conciliation, case evaluation, and facilitative mediation, and will provide further exploration of issues covered in the prerequisite family law and mediation classes, including ethics, neutrality, privilege, mediator professionalism and confidentiality through discussion, role-plays, and contemplative writing.  Students will explore the efficacy of mediation versus litigation particularly in the context of cases that have already been filed in court and are referred to the clinic.  During the seminar, students will also reflect on their mediation experience and observations of other mediations and the court process. The seminar will include guest speakers and simulated exercises.

Clinic Director: Oran Kaufman, Adjunct Clinical Professor

Global Justice Clinic

Clinic students work collaboratively with domestic and international nongovernmental organizations, grass-roots organizations, solidarity networks, attorneys, stakeholders, and other institutions engaging in human rights work to advance political, economic, social, and cultural human rights across borders.

Seminar
The Clinic seminar will provide an overview of the theoretical underpinnings of human rights advocacy, including international legal research, policy analysis, persuasive legal drafting, effective oral advocacy, collaborative lawyering, media and legislative advocacy, investigation and report drafting, creative problem-solving and the development of cross-cultural lawyering competencies. Students will explore the efficacy of litigation, the contested terrain of cultural relativity in human rights norms, and the social, political and economic context that human rights advocates must navigate. The seminar will include guest speakers and simulated exercises.

Advocacy 
To integrate the underlying theoretical backdrop of emerging human rights norms with real life lawyering, students in the Global Justice Clinic will directly participate in contemporary and compelling cases. Through their work on human rights projects, students will explore the relative merits and efficacy of various advocacy mechanisms in the context of real cases. Students will work collaboratively with domestic and international non-governmental organizations, grass-roots organizations, solidarity networks, attorneys, stakeholders, and other institutions engaging in human rights work, to advance political, economic, social and cultural human rights across borders.  
  
Clinic Director: Lauren Carasik, Director of Clinical Education and Clinical Professor of Law

Legal Aid Clinic/General Civil Practice Units

Students in the Legal Aid Clinic conduct their fieldwork at Community Legal Aid (CLA), a private, non-profit organization that provides civil legal assistance to poor people and elders. The Legal Aid Clinic allows students to learn about the real practice of law, while giving them the opportunity to engage in community service by providing essential legal services to those in need.

General Civil Practice Units Include:
  • Housing Unit (focuses mostly on providing eviction defense)
  • Disability Law (primarily helping with social security disability and SSI appeals and legal issues relating to access to an appropriate education)
  • Employment Law (primarily unemployment compensation appeals).
  • Benefits Unit (representation of low income people in obtaining TAFDC benefits, or EAEDC disability benefits, shelter, or other public benefits programs)
  • Family Law, primarily assisting victims of domestic violence and child
    support cases
  • Veterans Project (affiliated with the VA Hospital in Leeds, handles a wide assortment of civil and legal issues presented by low income veterans with a special emphasis in upgrading a less than honorable service discharge)

Seminar: In addition to the fieldwork, Legal Aid Clinic students attend a two hour weekly seminar meeting.

Orientation: Students are expected to attend a mandatory orientation priorr to the start of the semester.

Clinic Director: Gordon Shaw, Adjunct Clinical Professor and Director of Client Access at Community Legal Aid

Legal Aid Clinic/Immigration Unit

Students in the Legal Aid Clinic/Immigration Unit work at the office of the Central West Justice Center (CWJC) (a subsidiary of Community Legal Aid), a private, non-profit organization that provides civil legal assistance to poor people and elders.  The Immigration Clinic allows students to learn about the real practice of law, while giving them the opportunity to engage in community service by providing essential legal services to those in need.   

Under the supervision of CWJC staff attorneys, students will work on humanitarian immigration cases, including applications for asylum for individuals fleeing persecution, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for abused, neglected, and abandoned children, relief under the Violence Against Women Act for survivors of domestic violence, and U visas for crime victims. Students will interview clients and witnesses, prepare affidavits, assist in gathering documentary evidence, and research and write legal memoranda. Students may also conduct intake interviews with clients at community clinics. 

Seminar: In addition to the fieldwork, Legal Aid Clinic students attend a two hour weekly seminar meeting.

Orientation: Students are expected to attend a mandatory orientation prior to the start of the semester.

Clinic Director: Gordon Shaw, Adjunct Clinical Professor and Director of Client Access at Community Legal Aid

Real Estate Practicum

In the Real Estate Practicum, students experience the world of real estate practice and real estate practitioners and discuss and reflect on those experiences and observations in a weekly seminar, all with the goal of helping each student to prepare for the practice of law. To accomplish this goal and to provide this experience, the practicum has three required segments: an initial training, an externship and a seminar.

1) Initial Training: In preparation for the externships, the first two weeks of the semester involve hands-on training, homework and simulations in title examination and residential real estate closings.
2) Externships: The externship involves placements with real estate professionals and requires a commitment of 10 hours per week (two sessions of 5 hours). Externships are done as a two-person team. One member of the team is initially placed with a real estate attorney specializing in residential real estate, the other with an attorney at a title insurance company. Each team member works for six weeks with one attorney or the other and then switches right before spring break. In both placements, students will work on a variety of title, closing, contract and related problems and will observe the operation of a law office and the interaction with clients, staff and other real estate professionals (brokers, lenders, appraisers, surveyors). Most placements are in Springfield; there is also a paired placement in Connecticut (Windsor Locks and Hartford).
3) Seminar: The seminar component consists of a weekly 2-hour seminar meeting, with required readings and discussions frequently featuring presentations by experts in different aspects of real estate transactions. In some weeks, there will be individual or smaller-group meetings instead of the full-class seminar meetings.

 Practicum Director: Melanie S. Lewis, Adjunct Professor

Small Business Clinic

The Small Business Clinic provides legal services to local small businesses and microenterprises. The clients are generally businesses that would not have access to legal services due to limited resources. The businesses are usually owned by one or two individuals and have anywhere from zero to five employees. Students work on transactional legal matters that are typical in the start-up phase of a business. For example, students may assist the owners in determining whether they should operate as a sole proprietor, general partnership, limited liability company or corporation and provide appropriate documentation based on that decision (e.g., operating agreement, partnership agreement, or shareholder agreement). Clients also often have various employment issues including classifying individuals as employees or independent contractors, preparing an employee manual, and/or drafting an employment application. Students perform preliminary trademark availability searches, advise as to copyright protection for client work product, and draft non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements.  Students also assist in drafting a variety of contracts for the sale of goods and services. Additionally, students often perform regulatory analysis to determine if there are any licensing and/or permitting requirements for the client’s business. 

The goal of the clinic is to expose students to the methodology and mindset of business lawyering. Law students work with the entrepreneurs to identify the legal issues new businesses confront. They also develop important skills, including the ability to pinpoint key issues in an interview with a client. The clinic is part of a national trend to develop transactional educational opportunities to complement the traditional litigation-focused clinics that have long dominated clinical legal education. Students selected usually demonstrate a sincere desire to pursue a career in representing businesses and/or students who have an entrepreneurial spirit. Students interested in more detail on the issues faced by entrepreneurs, and therefore the issues dealt with in the Clinic, could read either of the following law review articles.  “Starting from Scratch:  A Lawyer’s Guide to Representing a Start-up Company,” 56 Ark. L. Rev. 773 (2004); “Braving the Waters:  A Guide for Tennessee’s Aspiring Entrepreneurs,” 8 Transactions: Tenn. J. Bus. L. 243 (Spring 2007).

The course will consist of two full days of orientation (prior to the first day of the semester), weekly seminar classroom meetings, weekly one-on-one meetings with the professor, meetings with clients (sometimes in the evenings) and participation in walk-in legal assistance. Part-time students are welcome to apply for the clinic and have successfully participated in the past.  However, part-time students need to be aware that there will be several times when they will need to make themselves available during the day for clinic activities (orientation, initial client interviews (at least three, 3-hour blocks), final client interviews (at least three, 2-hour blocks), weekly one-hour meetings, walk-in legal assistance, additional client meetings, and additional technology training).  The professor will work with part-time students who are employed full time to try and schedule some of these sessions in the evening, but there will be several instances where the clinician will need to be available during day-time hours.

In an effort to operate the clinic as close to an actual law firm as possible, students are required to maintain client billing records through use of the clinic’s time/document management software.  

Seminar: In addition to the fieldwork, Small Business Clinic students attend a regularly scheduled weekly seminar meeting. Students are expected to attend two full days of a mandatory orientation prior to the start of the semester. The weekly seminar incorporates business and legal practitioners from the local area.

Orientation: Students are expected to attend two and a half days of orientation prior to the start of the semester. No exceptions will be made to this mandatory orientation.

Clinic Director: Robert Statchen, Associate Clinical Professor of Law for Small Business Clinic and Real Estate Practicum

Application Information

  • Application Information

    Clinic and Practicum applications are accepted each spring during the open application period for spots in the fall and spring semesters of the following academic year.

Additional Information

Client Testimonials

  • Small Business Clinic Provides Free Legal Service to Start-Up Companies in the Community

    Small Business clients Jim and Beth Angelos share their experience working with the clinic students and how valuable the services were in advancing their business.

  • Small Business Clinic Client states, "The clinic changed my life"

    Small Business Clinic client Shaunia Swinton shares her experience receiving legal services from the Small Business Clinic.

  • Small Business clients gain step by step instructions while participating in the Small Business Clinic

    Kathy and James Andrade share their clinic experience as first time business owners. The clinic provided them with a detailed understanding of the legal steps they needed to take for their business.