Welcome to the UDC Law Clinical Program
US News and World Report Best Law Schools 2023 ranked UDC Law fifth in the U.S. for clinical legal training. At UDC Law, we train law students to practice law, promote justice and change lives.
For 50 years, the University of the District of Columbia David Clarke School of Law (UDC Law) has been committed to championing the legal rights of low-income and historically marginalized communities. Our history of excellence comes from a foundation of pioneering clinical education – experiential, immersive learning focused on learning the practical art of lawyering by serving real human needs. Our Clinical Program has served as a model for law schools across the country.
The Clinical Program at UDC Law provides free legal services to citizens of the District of Columbia and the D.C. Metro area who could not otherwise afford representation. The clinical approach places theory within the only context in which it is truly meaningful: the resolution of actual legal disputes affecting individuals and communities in the District and beyond.
At UDC Law, clinics are at the heart of our education program and mission. Every student is required to participate in the Clinical Program, where they work on ongoing legal matters with individual clients and client organizations under the supervision of an experienced attorney-professor. Typically, the student-faculty ratio in clinics ranges from 4:1 to 8:1, offering intensive one-on-one instruction, small group teaching and feedback.
Clinic is not only guaranteed at UDC Law but mandatory in order to graduate. We place such value on experiential education that all full-time students earn at least fourteen clinic credits by participating in two seven-credit clinics, and all part-time students earn at least ten clinic credits by participating in a ten-credit clinical semester offered in the evening.
Faculty and students at UDC Law work closely with individuals and organizations to advance access to justice while learning substantive law and lawyering skills. This clinical experience not only contributes to a better understanding of the law learned in the classroom but also gives UDC Law graduates a significant advantage in the workplace over those whose legal education lacks such practical experience. Legal ethics and professional responsibility in the practice of law are emphasized throughout clinics.
4340 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
Clinic Staff Assistant
Enrollment in the School’s clinics is limited to matriculated full-time and part-time students and governed by a set of Clinic Guidelines. Currently, we offer nine clinics where students obtain their student attorney certification to represent real clients facing real legal challenges. Practicing law under close supervision, student attorneys are the primary legal representatives for their clients engaging in complex matters, including litigation, transactional facilitation, policy advocacy and community education. We offer clinical experiences in nine substantive legal areas including immigration, criminal law, tax, family law, youth justice, legislation, community economic development, housing and whistleblower protection.
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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 year and division (full-time or part-time). For students entering in 2018 and later, full-time students must earn at least fourteen clinic credits by participating in two seven-credit clinic, and part-time students must earn at least ten clinic credits by participating in one ten-credit evening clinic. See Student Handbook, Sec. 1.5. To be eligible to enroll in a clinic, students must meet the prerequisites described below.
To be eligible to enroll in Clinic, students must successfully complete the equivalent of one year of law school (29 credits), including satisfactorily completing Lawyering Process I and II. Students who are required to take two seven-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 ten-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.
Conflicts of Interest
Federal Laws and the Rules of Professional conduct may prohibit some government employees from representing people in matters against the United States 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 registration process asks students to rank our available clinics in the order of their preference. 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 Managing Attorney.