Welcome to the UDC Law Clinical Program. Our program is consistently ranked among the best clinical law programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. No matter which clinic students are enrolled in, the work is of the highest importance to individuals, families, and our communities and to the mission of UDC Law. Throughout the clinical experience, students work closely with individuals and organizations to advance access to justice, students learn the substantive law and lawyering skills in a real-world setting, and gain exposure to practices and procedures of various areas of legal practice. Students receive intensive one-on-one instruction and small group teaching and feedback in our high-quality clinical education.
In order to graduate with a Juris Doctor degree from UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, each student must meet the School’s clinic requirement, which depends on the student’s entering division (full-time or part-time). Full-time students must earn at least 14 clinic credits by participating in two 7-credit clinics and part-time students must earn at least 10 clinic credits by participating in one 10-credit evening clinic. See Student Handbook, Sec. 1.5. To be eligible to enroll in a clinic, students must meet the prerequisites described below. Students are assigned to clinics based on a clinic match process, also described below.
To be eligible to enroll in clinic, students must successfully complete the equivalent of one year of law school (30 credits), including satisfactory completion of Lawyering Process I and II and Legal Research. Students who are required to take two 7-credit clinics must have taken Professional Responsibility or be concurrently enrolled in the class during the same semester as their first clinic. Students required to take one 10-credit clinic must satisfactorily complete Professional Responsibility prior to taking clinic and are not permitted to take any other classes during their clinical semester. As part of the clinic registration process, students must apply to be certified by the Dean as being of good character and competent legal ability, and as being adequately trained to engage in the limited practice of law pursuant to DC Court of Appeals Rule 48, also known as the Student Practice Application. See Student Handbook, Sec. 3.3.2. Some of the School’s clinics have additional eligibility requirements related to conflicts of interest. Please read the following provisions.
Federal Laws and the Rules of Professional conduct may prohibit some government employees from representing people in matters against the United States and/or the District of Columbia. Violation of the statute calls for criminal penalties. The maximum penalty includes a $10,000 fine, two years imprisonment, or both.
Accordingly, students who work for the federal government or the District of Columbia during (and sometimes prior to) the time they are working in a UDC Law Clinic may not participate in specific clinics. Clinic restrictions are based on the focus of the clinics and may change each semester. As such, we work very hard to ensure our duty of care to our clients and adherence to the rules of professional conduct by limiting our conflicts or imputations of potential conflicts by having every student disclose and update their current and former employment and affiliations.
D.C. Court of Appeals Rule 49 prohibits the unauthorized practice of law. D.C. Court of Appeals Rule 48 establishes a process for law student certification to practice within the context of a law school clinic and under the supervision of an authorized attorney.
Every clinic student applies for Certification, whether or not their clinic that will require appearances in D.C. courts or administrative tribunals. Specific clinics may require additional certifications in other states as well. Applications are approved by the School of Law’s Dean. Once approved, a student may practice law in the District of Columbia within their assigned clinic under the supervision of an authorized attorney for one year.
To promote fairness, give maximum weight to student preferences, and keep clinic class sizes low to ensure a robust and full experience, our clinic match process asks students to rank our available clinics in the order of their preference. Then after taking into account conflicts of interest, we match the students with clinics. Students who do not submit a Clinic Match Form may be assigned to clinics without regard to their preferences.
Students who wish to earn extra credit in their current clinic and students who wish to take a third clinic as an elective should NOT complete the Clinic Match Form. Rather, they should discuss their wishes with the Associate Dean for Clinical and Experiential Programs and/or the Clinical Program’s Managing Attorney.