Clinical Legal Education
Housing and Employment Law Clinic
In the Housing and Employment Law Clinic, UND law students develop fundamental lawyering skills and values by engaging in legal advocacy on behalf of persons who otherwise would be unable to obtain legal representation. Law Clinic students contribute to improving access to justice by providing lower income persons with the means to enforce existing legal rights and by promoting community-wide understanding of the laws protecting the rights of tenants and employees.
Consistent with the law school's mission, the Law Clinic course integrates opportunities to teach students the habit of reflection, the value of collaboration, and the importance of professional responsibility in the context of litigation and legal advocacy.
The Law Clinic is a graded, 7-credit course open to second-year law students in their second semester and to third-year law students. Enrollment is capped at 16 students per semester. The Law Clinic course includes casework, case supervision sessions, a seminar class, and a community education presentation. Students enrolled in the Law Clinic course are expected to spend approximately 20 hours per week on average on Law Clinic course work, including class preparation and class time. Students may enroll in the Law Clinic for a second semester, as space is available.
Clinic students are responsible for their cases and handle all aspects of litigation under faculty supervision. While a particular case may not present the opportunity to engage in all of the following aspects of a case, examples of work a Clinic student may handle during the course of the semester include: client interviewing and counseling, communicating with opposing counsel, drafting correspondence, development of case theory, drafting and filing pleadings, conducting research and writing legal memoranda, conducting and responding to written discovery, taking and defending depositions, conducting settlement negotiations, arguing and defending motions, and conducting trials before state, federal and administrative tribunals. While building their knowledge of employment and housing law, students also learn to apply the federal/state Rules of Civil Procedure and the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Law students enrolled in the Law Clinic course examine the laws governing landlord/tenant and employee/employer relationships and apply this knowledge in representation of clients in legal disputes. Cases handled in the clinic involve representation of individuals who have been denied housing or otherwise discriminated against in violation of federal/state fair housing and employment laws, and federal/state laws requiring the payment of fair wages to employees. Law Clinic students engage in every aspect of the practice of law, including substantial legal research; searching through pertinent statutory, case law, and administrative regulations; and learning to effectively distill applicable legal principles into well-crafted legal memoranda.
Law Clinic students interact with a variety of administrative agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the North Dakota Department of Labor. Students learn about the roles of these agencies in enforcing state and federal laws and when they are empowered, and when they are required, to investigate violations of the law, while also advising clients on their options and obtaining judicial review of agency decisions. In addition, Law Clinic students learn to litigate under the federal civil rights statutes, including suits against federal and state officials under 42 U.S.C. 1983, and claims brought under the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAA), the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the North Dakota Human Rights Act.
Case Team Supervision Sessions
Law Clinic students work in teams, and each team meets at least once a week for a formal supervision meeting with clinical faculty, and may meet more frequently depending on case needs. The agenda for these case team supervision meetings is set by the students and includes a review of case-related assignments and deadlines. Students are expected to prepare for these meetings and come ready to discuss critical issues arising in their cases. These case team meetings are set for a minimum of one hour and are usually scheduled for Mondays.
Seminar Class Sessions
Law Clinic students attend two seminar classes a week. Students are responsible for completing assignments for each class and for participating in class discussions about the materials. In addition, Law Clinic students are expected to participate in simulated court exercises and role-plays during class to develop specific lawyering skills such as negotiation or taking depositions. Seminar classes also incorporate case rounds, for which student case teams prepare presentations on the status of their cases and specific issues related to their cases for analysis, reflection, and discussion among the entire Law Clinic class.
Community-Based "Know Your Rights" Presentations
Often protected under state and federal law are populations who have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment historically, such as people with disabilities, the elderly, racial minorities, or victims of domestic violence. However, many of these individuals are unaware of the laws providing protections, so community education about the legal rights of vulnerable populations is essential.
To increase community awareness about important legal rights intended to maintain a just and civil society, Law Clinic students also prepare and present informational seminars to community groups. Students reinforce their understanding of particular areas of housing and employment law while honing their oral communication skills as they help educate the public about the rights of vulnerable populations in North Dakota.