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 Clinic
- Innocence Project Clinic
- Juvenile Rights Advocacy
- Ninth Circuit Appellate Project
Civil Litigation Clinic
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 in family law, landlord-tenant, and public benefits cases. 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, and courtroom advocacy, including trials and administrative hearings, as well as drafting and arguing appeals.
Students are closely supervised by clinical faculty. Supervisors observe meetings with clients, assist in preparation for client meetings, negotiations, and court appearances, and they accompany their students to all hearings and trials. 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 selection of credit options can be exercised only at the beginning of the term. In addition to individual supervision, students participate in a weekly seminar where issues related to students' cases are examined. The practical, legal and ethical issues of lawyering are explored in detail through discussion, simulations, and review of video recorded portions of students' meetings with their clients.
The Legal Assistance Bureau has been located in Waltham; however, as of this fall, its main base of operation will be at BCLS in the new Center for Experiential Learning, with a smaller community satellite office. Its faculty consists of supervising attorneys and a clinical social worker. Additional staff includes an intake coordinator, and an administrative assistant. Students are provided with comfortable individual workspace and voicemail, conference rooms, access to approved pleadings, and a well-developed library.
Grades are determined by evaluation of fieldwork, seminar participation, and short reaction papers. Students will receive one grade for both the fieldwork and seminar components. Enrollment is limited. Selection by lottery.
Community Enterprise Clinic
This course introduces students to transactional legal work on behalf of low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs, small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and first-time home buyers. The course includes fieldwork and a weekly seminar. The fieldwork is based at the Law School’s Legal Assistance Bureau located in the new Center for Experiential Learning on campus.
Students who enroll in this course will be assigned to work 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; with nonprofit organizations or groups seeking legal advice, or assistance to establish a tax-exempt organization; and first time home buyers. For fieldwork purposes students will be assigned seven or ten office hours per week at the clinic, depending on the number of credits chosen by the student.
The fieldwork is complemented by a weekly seminar. The seminar will address substantive law surrounding entrepreneurship and nonprofit law, ethical issues encountered in corporate and nonprofit practice, and the legal skills necessary for effective practice, including interviewing and counseling. This course satisfies the upper-level Lawyering Skills and Perspectives requirements.
No examination; grading will be based on fieldwork, and a short reflection paper. Enrollment is limited to 6 students by lottery, with third-year preference and a preference for students who have not yet had a major clinical experience.
Students may elect to enroll in this course on a pass/fail basis. Students must make that election, as well as an election to increase the number of credits from 7 to 10, by the end of drop/add period in the second week of the semester.
Criminal Justice Clinic
The Criminal Justice Clinic class brings together students enrolled in the BC Defender Program and the BC Law Prosecution Program for a weekly class in which they share their insights and experiences, compare professional roles, and examine the functioning of the criminal justice system and measure it against conceptions of fairness and justice. Students and faculty from both programs participate together in skills training simulations, presentations, field trips, and conversations with experienced criminal justice professionals. In addition to readings and other assignments, students write weekly journals reflecting on and integrating their clinical and classroom experiences.
BC Defender Program
The BC Defender program is a full-year criminal defense clinic and a weekly seminar class. Practicing under faculty supervision pursuant to SJC Rule 3:03, BC Defenders represent clients charged with crimes and probation violations in the Boston Municipal Court (Dorchester Division). In the course of representing their clients, students broaden their own life experiences and develop professional skills, including interviewing, counseling, investigation, legal research and writing, collaborating, negotiating, oral advocacy, case organization and management, and trial skills. The weekly defense class involves readings, discussions, role-plays, case rounds, mock trials and hearings, and reflections on the students’ experiences, their clients and cases, professional ethics,
the role of the public defender, and other issues relating to the criminal justice system.
BC Law Prosecution Program
The Prosecution Program is a one-semester course offered only in the fall. Students enrolled in this clinic work within a local District Attorney’s Office 2-3 days each week, handling a variety of misdemeanor and minor felony charges from arraignment to bench trial. Students are responsible for their own cases in court and meet weekly with a faculty supervisor for case preparation and supervision. Students’ court experiences provide the basis for a close and critical examination of their role and their impact on the criminal justice system. The weekly seminar focuses on the development of lawyering skills, the formation of professional identity, and the study of the prosecution function.
Housing Law Clinic
In this clinical course students advise and represent clients facing homelessness through eviction, mortgage foreclosure, or denial of access to government-funded affordable housing. Students practicing in the clinic are vividly introduced to the pervasive problem of homelessness, as well as the pivotal role of lawyers to the just adjudication and resolution of these matters. Clinic students are certified by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court as Student Attorneys. Under close, supportive supervision by clinical faculty, they perform all aspects of representation from client interviewing through courtroom advocacy. Student Attorneys engage in fact investigation, pleading, civil discovery, client counseling, motion practice, negotiation, trial, and appellate work. Most clients face 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 through the Boston College Legal Assistance Bureau (BCLAB), a legal services office founded by Boston College law students in 1968. BCLAB has been located in Waltham since its founding but will be relocated to the Law School’s new Center for Experiential Learning in the Smith Wing of the law campus over the coming summer. A smaller, community satellite office will remain in Waltham, 15 minutes from the Law School. The seminar is held at the Law School.
Students who enroll in this course can expect to defend eviction actions in local District Courts and/or 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 to pursue affirmative litigation to correct illegal conditions in low-income housing. Students will be trained in all 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 covers trial advocacy and negotiation skills, exploration of the social and political underpinnings of homelessness, and ethical issues encountered in public interest practice. No examination; grading is based on fieldwork performance and seminar participation. Enrollment by lottery.
The Immigration Clinic provides students with the opportunity to apply their substantive learning in a hands-on, real-world setting. Students enrolled in the Immigration Clinic represent noncitizens in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court in Boston, which involves arguing bond motions for detained clients, conducting direct examination of witnesses, raising evidentiary objections and arguing points of law. In preparation for hearings, students research and write motions and memoranda of law, prepare applications for relief from removal, gather documents in support of such applications, interview witnesses, draft affidavits and research human rights issues in the countries of removal. Students also represent noncitizens in their applications for legal status, which involves interviewing the client, evaluating whether the client is eligible for such status under the relevant immigration laws, preparing the application, drafting affidavits of the client and other supporting witnesses, gathering documents in support of the application, preparing the client for an interview before the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“CIS”) office and representing the client at the interview. Types of cases vary, but typically include asylum and other relief based on fear of persecution in the country of removal, waivers of deportation for long-term residents of the U.S., adjustment of status for noncitizens with U.S. citizen or permanent resident family members, visas for victims of violent crimes who have assisted in the prosecution of such crime, relief for noncitizen victims of domestic violence and visas for juveniles who have been abused, abandoned or neglected. Students also conduct “Know Your Rights” presentations for the immigrant communities in the Boston area and for noncitizens who are detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The expected weekly commitment to the Immigration Clinic is 15 hours, although that can vary depending on the demands of a particular client’s case.
Students who participate in the Fall clinic and practicum have the option of applying for the Spring clinic or the Immigration 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 Externship Program to study immigration procedure and discuss substantive issues in their cases. Students will receive one grade for the Immigration Practicum, and a separate grade that reflects their clinic work and participation in the Immigration Clinic seminar.
Clinic students may also wish to enroll in the Spring semester Advanced Immigration Law Seminar, a three credit class examining asylum law and deportation defense, among other topics. However, participation in the seminar is not required to enroll in the clinic.
*See paragraph about a joint immigration and JRAP clinical experience.
Innocence Project Clinic
Students in the BCIP in-house clinic work collaboratively with faculty supervision on post-conviction screening and/or litigation of cases of prisoners who assert their innocence. Case screening involves in-depth review of trial transcripts, pre-trial discovery, appellate and post-conviction briefs, and judicial opinions, as well as factual and forensic research, to determine whether scientific testing or other investigative leads could establish a strong likelihood that the prisoner is factually innocent. Students involved in case review produce a substantial memorandum analyzing the case and making a recommendation as to whether post-conviction litigation should be pursued. Students engaged in litigation research and draft motions for various types of post-conviction relief with supporting memoranda and affidavits.
The BCIP Clinic meets weekly for two hours at the Law School. Class time is devoted to case-rounds and development of legal, professional, and ethical skills in the context of post-conviction innocence work. Students should expect to spend an average of 10-12 hours/week outside of class time on their casework. Grading is based on written work and contributions to class discussion.
See also: Innocence Project Externship
Juvenile Rights Advocacy
The Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project will provide a five-credit/semester clinic to students either currently enrolled in Children’s Law and Public Policy or who have completed Children’s Law and Public Policy. Students will represent, as Attorney or Guardian-ad-Litem, youth involved in the justice system on legal issues related to their dependency, status offense, delinquency, or special education cases. Case representation may include special education advocacy, school disciplinary proceedings, administrative advocacy with the state Departments of Youth Services and Children and Families, and Juvenile Court advocacy in status offense cases. In addition, students may represent youth committed to the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services through the post-disposition phase of their cases. Students have the opportunity to work on cases in-house at JRAP or to be placed in a community law setting addressing these issues. Placements will be determined based on interest expressed in clinic applications and meetings with the Professor once students for the clinic have been selected. The expected weekly commitment for JRAP I or II is 15 hours, although that can vary depending on the demands of a particular client’s case.
Students in JRAP II (offered only in the Spring) will continue their individual cases for a second semester and work on a related group policy project. Cases are in Suffolk and Middlesex counties (including Boston, Cambridge and Lowell). Students will meet weekly as a group to discuss cases, learn relevant Massachusetts law, and develop skills needed to represent teens. Enrollment by application.
*Joint Immigration and JRAP Clinical Experience
Students interested in the intersection of immigration and children’s law may elect to make a full year commitment and take cases jointly supervised under the Immigration Clinic and Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project. To be eligible students must have taken Immigration Law as their 1L spring elective and will enroll in JRAP I (5 credits), Children’s Law & Public Policy (2-3 credits) and the Immigration Law Practicum (1 credit) in the Fall and then in the Immigration Clinic (5 credits) in the Spring. These students (limited to 2) will take Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) cases providing an opportunity for holistic representation (i.e., immigration representation, custody, access to education, health care, etc.). Interested students should apply to both JRAP and the Immigration Clinic in the Fall and indicate their interest in this program.
Ninth Circuit Appellate Project
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals permits supervised law students to brief and argue immigration cases brought by indigent clients who would otherwise be without counsel. The Court screens pro se cases and selects those that present important issues that deserve further development by counsel. Past cases have included asylum, withholding, and CAT claims, questions relating to immigration consequences of criminal convictions, and issues of first impression.
The Court schedules the opening brief to be filed in September, the reply brief in December, and schedules oral argument before a panel of sitting judges in March of the same academic year. Students will travel to the scheduled court hearing to present oral argument. The Court then issues its decision based on the merits of the individual cases.
To participate in this program, students must be able to work over the summer to review the record, start preparing drafts of the opening brief, and commence and maintain communication with clients.
Students will work in teams of two to represent their client. Two teams, for a total of four students, participate in this program. Skills developed and applied include client communication, brief writing, and oral advocacy.