Welcome to the For Students page of the Clinic’s portion of the website. The Clinic is, first and foremost, an educational experience for Widener law students who enroll and become Student Attorneys. We take very seriously the “Preparing To Practice” part of the Clinic’s motto by:
- Selecting Clinic representations that can provide interesting challenges for Student Attorneys
- Involving Student Attorneys in client contacts, case strategy development, and case execution
- Ensuring the opportunity to perform all major parts of complex litigation through the Clinic Case
- Exposing students to new legal experiences, like attending oral arguments at the United States Supreme Court
The Clinic’s goal is to expose each Student Attorney to valuable learning experiences so that practical skills improve, confidence increases, and he/she is better prepared to begin practice with a good sense of how practice really works. Student Attorneys get to attend oral argument at the Supreme Court after reviewing and debating the briefs. We also work to improve the environment-not only through helping our clients, but also via the Clinic’s participation in PennDOT’s Adopt-A-Highway program by cleaning up Smith Bridge Road four times a year. Visit the Video Testimonials page to see what Clinic Student Attorneys Dan Moran, Sonya Dore, and Jordan Schlossberg had to say about their Clinic experiences. For a better sense of the types of projects Student Attorneys tackle in the Clinic, check out the Clinic Newsletter page. Also, check out Jon Johnson’s story of his work on a Clinic matter in the Recent Posts section of this website.
Student FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions About The Clinic From Students)
When Can I take The Clinic?
Most students take the Clinic in their last year of law school. However, Regular Division/Day students can apply for Clinic as early as 2nd semester second year (for Extended Division/ Evening students it is 2nd semester third year). You need to meet the prerequisites set forth below.
Can Extended Division/Evening students take the Clinic?
Yes. The Clinic’s caseload and the types of projects it generates means that Clinic Student Attorneys do not need to be in the Clinic during the day (except for the Clinic seminar held 4:00 – 6:00 one day of the week). Many Extended Division/Evening Students have successfully completed the Clinic and had great experiences.
What are the prerequisites for taking Clinic?
There are two main prerequisites for Clinic: (1) you must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.3, and (2) you must have taken and received at least a C in Professional Responsibility. While classes in Environmental Law, Evidence, and ITAP are helpful, they are not required to be able to sign up and take Clinic.
Do I have to be interested in practicing environmental law in order to take the Clinic?
No. While the Clinic can provide excellent experience for someone interested in practicing environmental law, the Clinic can provide valuable practical experience no matter what your ultimate field of practice.
How many credit hours can I take?
Currently, Widener limits students to a total of 8 credit hours for all clinical and externship classes. To maximize your experience in the Clinic, we therefore recommend that you take the Clinic for two semesters, 4 credit hours each semester. However, the Clinic Director will consider allowing a student to take the Clinic for only one semester, but only on the condition that the student takes additional credit hours (usually 5 or 6).
Can I combine the Clinic with an internship in another Clinic or an externship?
Because of the 8 credit hour limit, it is currently impossible to combine the Clinic with a second clinical experience or an externship.
What are the expectations you have for a student taking the Clinic?
There are three important expectations. First, you must attend and actively participate in the weekly Clinic seminar, where you will learn important environmental law principles that can be helpful in working on your projects, as well as the necessary strategies for the Clinic Case. Approximately 35% of your grade is based on your work in the Clinic seminar and on the Clinic Case. Second, you must make a good faith effort on your Clinic projects. There is no expectation of perfection-indeed, one of the most valuable aspects of the clinical experience is the opportunity to make mistakes and, with the Clinic Director’s guidance, learn from them. Third, you are expected to perform at least 50 hours of work for each credit hour you are taking. For a typical 4 credit hour semester, that is 200 hours (over a 14 week semester, about 14 hours a week). Included in that 50 hours is the time spent in and preparing for Clinic seminar.
Is Clinic a pass/fail or a graded course?
Clinic class is graded and subject to the upper level elective course curve.
What is the Clinic Case?
The Clinic Case is a hypothetical Clean Water Act case that Student Attorneys will see from start to finish over the course of their year in the Clinic. In the Fall, the students receive a request for assistance from an environmental organization. The Student Attorneys will end up drafting a Retention Agreement, a 60-day Notice Letter (necessary to commence litigation under the Clean Water Act), a federal Civil Complaint, Rule 26(a) Initial Disclosures, Document Requests, Interrogatories, Notices of Deposition, Requests to Admit, and a Settlement Agreement-all the major documents of complex civil litigation. Along the way, the Student Attorneys will have to interview witnesses, receive responses to their discovery requests (including documents and other materials), draft correspondence with opposition counsel concerning an ethical issue, and take a deposition of the corporate defendant under Rule 30(b)(6)-all the while formulating case strategy to best represent their client’s interests. The Clinic Case is designed to ensure that, no matter what projects a Student Attorney performs on behalf of Clinic Clients, he/she will get the opportunity to practice the important skills of litigation and client representation that will help better prepare him/her for practice in the “real world.”
What if I don’t want/or cannot take the Clinic as a class-can I volunteer at the Clinic?
Yes. Summer internships are available for Widener students to volunteer and help the Clinic maintain its caseload between the graduation of Spring semester Student Attorneys and the beginning of the re-staffing by the Fall semester Student Attorneys. In addition, Widener students can volunteer during the school year for specific projects (approval by Professor Kristl is on a case-by-case basis). All hours doing volunteer work in the Clinic can be applied towards the Pro Bono Distinction honor awarded Widener students at graduation.
Where does the Clinic get its cases?
We get our matters by potential clients contacting us and asking for our help. Some are current or former clients who have experienced our services before, others have had the Clinic recommended to them, and still others hear about Clinic victories or projects and want to know if the Clinic can help them.