In-House clinics are those in which students are supervised by full-time clinical faculty members. Courses include:
- Civil Litigation Clinic
- Community Enterprise Clinic
- Criminal Justice Clinic
- Housing Law Clinic
- Immigration & Asylum Clinic
- Juvenile Rights Advocacy
Civil Litigation Clinic (LL978; LL979)
This civil clinical course allows students the opportunity to work as practicing lawyers representing actual clients at the Boston College Legal Assistance Bureau (LAB), a legal services office founded by Boston College law students in 1968. Pursuant to the Massachusetts student practice rule (SJC 3:03), students are certified to represent clients in every aspect of litigation, including appearing in court and at federal and state administrative hearings (e.g., Social Security Administration, Division of Unemployment Assistance, and Department of Transitional Assistance). Students advise and represent clients with a variety of legal problems, including divorce and custody proceedings, landlord-tenant disputes, Social Security disability appeals, and consumer complaints. Students are responsible for their own cases and have the opportunity to plan and conduct every phase of civil litigation, from initial client interviews, through formulating a legal strategy, to counseling clients, conducting pretrial discovery and motion hearings, engaging in settlement negotiations, drafting pleadings, up to and including trials and administrative hearings, as well as drafting and arguing appeals.
Students are closely supervised by clinical faculty. Supervisors sit in on most meetings with clients, assist in the preparation for client meetings, negotiations, and court appearances, and they accompany their students to court. Supervisors provide thorough feedback to students about their work at all stages in order to help students build on their skills and learn from their experiences, including written feedback at both mid-semester and end of term. Seven-credit students are expected to spend an average of 20-25 hours/week on clinic matters. Ten-credit students average 30-35 hours/week. Pass/fail and variable credit options can only be exercised at the beginning of the term. In addition to individual supervision, students participate in a weekly seminar where issues related to students' actual cases are examined. The practical, legal and ethical issues of lawyering are explored in detail through discussion, simulations, and review of videotaped portions of students' meetings with their clients.
The Legal Assistance Bureau is located only 15 minutes from the law school, in Waltham. Its faculty consists of four supervising attorneys and a clinical social worker. Additional staff includes an intake worker, and a fiscal manager. Students are provided with comfortable individual workspace and voicemail, conference rooms, a computer center, access to Lexis, Westlaw, a database of approved pleadings, and a well-developed office library. Grades are determined by evaluation of fieldwork, seminar participation, discussion board postings, and a seminar presentation and paper (reflection, not research). Students will receive one grade for both the fieldwork and seminar components. Enrollment is limited.
Community Enterprise Clinic (LL326; LL336)
This course introduces students to transactional legal work on behalf of low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. The course includes fieldwork and a weekly seminar. The fieldwork is based at the Law School's clinical office known as the Legal Assistance Bureau in Waltham, four miles form the Law School. The seminar will be held at the Law School.
Students will be assigned to work in pairs with entrepreneurs who have business-related legal needs and/or a desire to create a formal business structure or entity; with emerging, community-based small businesses facing corporate, employment or similar legal issues; and with non-profit organizations or groups seeking to establish a tax-exempt organization. For fieldwork purposes, students will be assigned seven office hours per week at the clinic. Students can expect to spend an additional ten to twelve hours per week, on average, on their client representation work. The fieldwork is complemented by a weekly seminar. The seminar will address substantive law surrounding small businesses and entrepreneurship, and ethical issues encountered in corporate and non-profit practice. No examination; grading will be based on fieldwork, and a short reflection paper. Enrollment by application.
Criminal Justice Clinic
BC Defenders and BC Law Prosecution Program
The Criminal Justice Clinic is a unique and exciting program, which examines the criminal justice system from the perspective of both defense attorneys and prosecutors. The Clinic is made up of two programs: BC Law Prosecution Program and BC Defenders. BC Defenders represent indigent clients in District Court, while student prosecutors prosecute cases under the auspices of a District Attorney's Office. Each side meets separately once a week to focus more intently on the skills particular to each profession and to discuss issues which students confront during the term. Both sides also meet in class together once a week to explore systemic issues and practical problems and to compare their experiences, analyses, and conclusions with insights gathered by students practicing on the opposite side.
Students enrolled in the course will experience, participate in, and evaluate the local criminal justice system. Through practice in a district court, combined with one-on-one supervision, class exercises, readings and discussion, students have the opportunity to closely and critically examine the functioning of the criminal justice system and measure it against conceptions of fairness. Students will reflect on their actions in the criminal justice system (with special attention paid to the attorney-client relationship and the prosecution function), and will consider the ethical and moral issues which inevitably arise in criminal casework. Students examine these and other criminal justice issues while learning the habits of mind and behavior necessary to function effectively in that system.
BC Defenders (LL604; LL605)
The BC Defenders pick up cases at arraignment, where they interview their clients for the first time and present bail arguments before a judge. Students then begin to prepare their cases, researching the legal issues, investigating the facts, and helping the client with services whenever possible. A pre-trial hearing is held usually within the first semester to finalize discovery and determine if the case can be resolved. If the case is not resolved then, the case is scheduled for jury trial during the second semester. Jury trials are held before a jury of six persons. To prepare for jury trials, students role-play their cases in the form of mock trials with group participation. Students handle misdemeanors and those felonies for which district court jurisdiction exists, such as charges of assault, larcenies, and drug offenses. Students are responsible for their own cases and are closely supervised, both in court and out of court, by the defense supervisor.
Second semester is a jury trial seminar where students complete their cases. Each case scheduled for jury trial will be performed in class as a mock trial at least once, and all students will participate as witnesses, prosecutors, jurors and critiquers. The class meets weekly for two hours for this purpose. Other mock trial classes will also be scheduled as needed. The hours of preparation are dependent upon the trial schedule, but average at least five hours of additional work per week. As a BC Defender, you will help other students with their cases as well as working on your own. There will also be opportunities for research and writing.
BC Law Prosecution Program (LL468; LL469)
What is the primary task of a prosecutor? Enforcing the law? Securing convictions? Punishing offenders? Seeking justice? Even if we agree that a prosecutor's primary task is to seek justice, will we be able to articulate a shared notion of what "to seek justice" means? One of the central challenges that students will face in this clinic will be to understand and articulate the primary task of a prosecutor and how our notions (both conscious and unconscious) of authority, role, boundary, and task affect the way we take up our role. Students will join a group of assistant district attorneys in a local District Attorney's Office and take up the demanding role of prosecutor in a highly challenging local criminal justice system. Each student will become an active participant in the criminal justice system, receiving several cases during the semester, handling various charges, and appearing numerous times in an adult court session. Students are responsible for their own cases and are closely supervised, both in court and out of court. Students' experiences in court will provide the basis for a close and critical examination of the criminal justice system, which will necessarily include self-reflection and self-critique, as students analyze the various roles they take up in the system, and their own participation in the dynamics that they witness.
The Prosecution Program is a one-semester course offered only in the Fall. Students interested in taking the course should leave as many mornings as possible free for court (8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.). Please note that in the first six weeks, the prosecution program will meet for three, two-hour classes per week. *In the Spring, the Advanced Prosecution Clinic may be open to a limited number of students (by permission only) who have successfully completed this course.
Housing Law Clinic (LL417; LL418)
This course introduces students to the pervasive problem of homelessness in our cities. It is a clinical course in which students will litigate cases on behalf of individuals living in poverty, who are homeless, or who risk becoming homeless if they lose their current housing. Most are facing eviction or the loss of government housing subsidies that they need in order to remain housed. The course includes fieldwork and a weekly seminar. The fieldwork is based at the Law School's civil clinical office known as the Legal Assistance Bureau in Waltham, 15 minutes and four miles from the Law School. The seminar will be held at the Law School.
Students who enroll in this course will be assigned to work with families or individuals who are facing or experiencing having no place to live. Students can expect to defend eviction actions in local District Courts and Boston Housing Court; to represent individuals before local Housing Authorities in an effort to obtain affordable housing for them; to work with community organizations seeking to increase the supply of affordable housing; and, on occasion, to assist in affirmative litigation to correct illegal conditions in low-income housing. Students will be trained in essential lawyering skills with an emphasis on trial advocacy techniques. For fieldwork purposes students will be assigned seven or ten office hours per week at the clinic, depending on whether they have selected the seven or ten credit option. Students can expect to spend an additional ten to fifteen hours per week, on average, on their client representation work.
The fieldwork is complemented by a weekly seminar. The seminar will cover trial advocacy skills, exploration of the social and political underpinnings of homelessness, and ethical issues encountered in public interest practice. No examination; grading will be based on fieldwork and seminar participation. Enrollment by application.
Immigration and Asylum Clinic (LL793)
The Immigration and Asylum Clinic provides students with the opportunity to apply their substantive learning in a hands-on, real-world setting. Students advise or represent clients in a wide range of immigration matters, including asylum, criminal waivers, adjustment of status, bond, appellate litigation, and amicus briefing. Working closely with faculty, students learn how to interview clients, draft submissions, prepare witnesses, analyze criminal records, and develop case strategy. The clinic visits detention centers to conduct rights presentations and provide one-on-one counseling to immigration detainees. Enrollment limited to 6 students.
Students who participate in the fall clinic and practicum have the option of applying for the spring clinic or the Immigration and Asylum Externship Program without the requirement of attending the spring practicum. New students participating in the spring clinic must also enroll in the spring semester practicum. The practicum brings together students from the clinic and the Immigration and Asylum Externship Program to study immigration procedure and discuss substantive issues in their cases.
Clinic students may also wish to enroll in the spring semester Advanced Immigration Law Seminar, a three credit class examining refugee law, the intersection of criminal and immigration law, and deportation defense, among other topics. However, participation in the seminar is not required to enroll in the clinic.
Juvenile Rights Advocacy (LL389)
The Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project (JRAP) will provide a four-credit/semester clinic to students either currently enrolled in Juvenile Justice Seminar or who have completed Juvenile Justice Seminar. Students will represent, as Attorney or Guardians ad Litem, youth involved in the juvenile justice system on legal issues related to their delinquency. Much of the case representation involves special education advocacy for delinquent youth, many of whom have been excluded from school. In addition, students may represent youth committed to the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services through the post-disposition phase of their cases. Issues include a significant measure of education law, law of status offenses, delinquency, administrative advocacy, child abuse and neglect, and public benefits. JRAP works with the Youth Advocacy Department of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (YAD) and students will have the option of placement with the EdLaw Project at YAD in Roxbury. Cases will be in Suffolk and Middlesex counties (including Boston, Cambridge and Lowell). Student will meet every week to discuss advanced topics in juvenile law as they relate to the work of the Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project. Students placed at YAD and students working on in-house cases will be jointly supervised. Enrollment limited to eight students/semester by application.