In order to graduate with a Juris Doctor degree, each student must meet the School of Law’s clinic requirement, which depends on the student’s entering year and division (full-time or part-time). For students entering in 2018 and later, full-time students must earn at least 14 clinic credits by participating in two of the School of Law’s 7-credit clinics and part-time students must earn at least 10 clinic credits by participating in one of the School of Law’s 10-credit evening clinics. See Student Handbook, Sec. 1.5. In order to enroll in a clinic, students must meet the prerequisites described below. Students are assigned to clinics based on a lottery, also described below.
In order to be eligible to enroll in Clinic, students must successfully complete the equivalent of one year of law school (30 credits), including Lawyering Process I and II and Legal Research. Students who are required to take two 7-credit clinics and who have not satisfactorily completed Professional Responsibility must enroll in the course during the same semester as Clinic I. Students required to take one 10-credit clinic must satisfactorily complete Professional Responsibility prior to taking clinic. 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 Law, 18 U.S.C. § 205, prohibits federal employees from representing people in matters against the United States and D.C. employees from representing people in matters against 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.
- students who will work for the federal government during the time they are in clinic may not participate in the Criminal Law Clinic, Fall 2021 10-credit General Practice Clinic, Housing & Consumer Law Clinic, Immigration & Human Rights Clinic, Tax Clinic, or Fall 2021 7-credit Youth Justice Clinic: Child Refugee Humanitarian Assistance Project, and
- students who will work for the District of Columbia during the time they are in a clinic may not participate in the Community Development Law Clinic, Criminal Law Clinic, Fall 2021 7-credit General Practice Clinic, or Housing & Consumer Law Clinic.
Exceptions: The law does not apply to “special government employees,” which includes (among others) reserve officers and officers in the National Guard, unless they are voluntarily serving an extended period of active duty, and students whose entire period of government employment lasts less than 130 days (roughly equal to a semester) in a given year. See 18 U.S.C. § 202 for the definition of “special government employees.”
Also note that, for most students, the conflict law will apply only if you will continue to work for the government while you are taking clinic. See 18 U.S.C. § 207 regarding conflicts for former government employees.
Additional Conflict Check
After students are assigned to clinics, each clinic will conduct an additional conflict check to determine whether a student’s current or former employment, or other affiliation, presents an actual or potential conflict of interest for existing or former clients to whom we still owe a duty of care.
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.
Accordingly, the School of Law requires all students to apply for Special Admission to the Bar of the D.C. Court of Appeals, whether or not they anticipate enrolling in a clinic that will require appearances in D.C. courts or administrative tribunals.
In order to be approved, a student must have completed 30 course credits (i.e., the equivalent of completing one year of law school), as verified by the Registrar, and have his or her application – which includes questions about the applicant’s character – approved by the School of Law’s Dean.
Once approved, a student may practice law in the District of Columbia, while enrolled in clinic and under the supervision of an authorized attorney, for one year. There is no need to reapply before enrolling in your second clinic (if taken within a year).
Students who are not already permitted to practice under Rule 48 should prepare the Student Practice Application and gather any required documentation as soon as they submit their Clinic Lottery preference form. Any student with questions regarding eligibility should discuss the application process with the Associate Dean of Experiential and Clinical Programs or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
Once the Registrar has announced clinic assignments following the Clinic Lottery, students should complete the Student Practice Application by adding their clinic assignment information to the form. Make sure the form is completed electronically (the Court of Appeals requires typewritten entries), print it single-sided, sign both parts, and submit it to the Staff Assistant for Clinics in the 3rd Floor Clinic Suite. While the school is in remote operating mode due to COVID, the completed Student Practice Application can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Consistent with Rule 48, the Dean of the School of Law will review the character and fitness of law students who are seeking Rule 48 admission and will submit certified students’ applications to the D.C. Committee on Admissions; the Committee on Admissions will issue identification cards bearing each student’s assigned Law Student Number signifying that he or she is a registered participant in the Rule 48 Legal Assistance by Law Students Program. These cards will be distributed to students by their supervising attorneys. Students should NOT contact the D.C. Committee on Admissions for status updates.
In each clinic, students will receive intensive one-on-one and small group teaching and feedback. Thus, a high quality clinical experience depends on maintaining a low student to faculty ratio, which makes it necessary to limit the number of students in each clinic. In order to make clinic assignments fairly while giving maximum weight to student preferences, we conduct a clinic lottery each semester. This method is designed to accommodate the first choice of as many students as possible.
In order to participate in the lottery, students must submit a Clinic Preference Form, which is available for a limited period prior to Registration (dates are announced by the Registrar). Students with outstanding clinic requirements who do not submit a Clinic Preference Form may be assigned to clinics without regard to their preferences or availability.
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 Preference Form. Rather, those students should complete an Elective/Extended Clinic Form, including required signatures, and submit it to the Registrar. Students seeking to earn extra credit in their current clinic should submit the Elective/Extended Clinic Form, if possible, prior to the next semester’s registration period.