Frequently Asked Questions
What is the LSU Law Clinic?
The LSU Law Clinic is a legal services office located on the first floor of the Old Law Building. Under faculty supervision, second and third-year law students lawyer for clients from the community. The Law Clinic entrance is located on the rear southeast corner of the building off of the Faculty Club parking lot. Clinic faculty offices are located on the central corridor of the first floor of the Old Law Building. LSU law students enroll in clinic courses and work in the Law Clinic as student attorneys. This means they represent real clients with real legal issues before various courts and administrative agencies. All of the clients the Law Clinic accepts are indigent and cannot afford legal counsel. Working in the Law Clinic is a great way for students to gain experience practicing law, earn credit towards graduation, and provide a service to people in need. Since law school is very hard work, the Law Clinic is a great way for students to practice and improve their skills prior to graduation. It allows them to put the substantive law they have been studying into practice and help people in need.
What are clinical courses?
Clinical courses are offered through the LSU Law Clinic and allow second- and third-year students to represent actual clients under close faculty supervision. Students earn academic credit while gaining real-life practical experience as ‘student attorneys.’ A good analogy is a medical school residency where students practice under close faculty supervision. Third-year Clinic students are certified to practice law under Supreme Court Rule XX and represent clients that are referred to the LSU Law Clinic through various local agencies, such as The Juvenile Public Defender’s Office and District Attorney’s Office of Baton Rouge. Each clinic earns the student between 3-5 hours credit and consists of a classroom component as well as work representing clients.
What clinical courses are currently being offered?
Check the schedule each semester because we are growing the Clinical Program and expect to add new courses. Right now we offer seven clinical courses: The Juvenile Defense Clinic; the Immigration Law Clinic; the Civil Mediation Clinic; the Family Mediation Clinic; the Parole Assistance & Reentry Clinic; the Prosecution Clinic; and the Social Security Disability Clinic.
Why take clinical courses?
The law faculty believe that the LSU Law Center has an obligation to prepare its graduates to practice law. Clinical courses provide students with the practice needed to represent clients with confidence upon graduation. Students will gain valuable experience in interviewing skills, fact development and research, drafting legal documents, and appearing in court. They will be exposed to a law-office environment through the clinical program in which current case management and time-keeping software will be utilized. Although the Clinics may focus on a particular area of representation, the skills learned in each clinic will help students become more effective lawyers regardless of their chosen practice area.
What is an Externship? What is the difference between an Externship and Clinic?
Externships place students with judges or lawyers working for legal service providers and state agencies. Students work as ‘externs’ for lawyers in those offices. Like Clinic, Externship students receive academic credit for the work they do in their placement. However, unlike Clinic where students are certified to practice and are the ‘acting attorneys’ for their clients, Externship students are not certified and are more like clerks for the judges or attorneys with whom they are placed.
What Externship opportunities are currently available?
Right now we have several Externship opportunities. Students should check with the schedule each semester because we plan to increase the available offerings over time. Currently, students can participate in the Judicial Externship Program or the Governmental Externship Program or the Public Interest/Not-for-Profit Externship Program. There is also the Individual Externship Program that allows students to tailor a placement to a particular course or legal area in which they have a particular interest. In addition, we now have the opportunity to participate in Summer Externships for any Law Center student who has completed their first year of academic study at the Law Center.
Where do I go if I have questions about either Clinics or Externships?
There are a lot of people here at the Law Center who can answer questions about Clinics or Externships and which opportunities may be right for you. Professor Robert Lancaster is the Director of Clinical Programs and can answer general questions about all of the Clinical and Externship offerings. He can be reached in Room W151 or at Robert.email@example.com. Professor Jeffrey Brooks is the Director of Externship Programs and he can answer general questions about available externships. Professor Brooks can be reached in Room W155 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Professor Ken Mayeaux can answer specific questions about the Public Interest/Not-for-Profit Externship, and he can be reached in Room W149 or at email@example.com . The Clinic Coordinator, Brenda Salassi is also a helpful resource and can answer your questions regarding specific clinic procedures such as application forms and deadlines. Ms. Salassi can be found in Room W112 or at Brenda.firstname.lastname@example.org.
You should also feel free to contact the specific professors who teach the Clinics and Externships. Professor Hector Linares (email@example.com, Room W153) teaches the Juvenile Defense Clinic. Professor Ken Mayeaux (Ken.firstname.lastname@example.org, Room W149) teaches the Immigration Law Clinic. Professor Robert Lancaster (email@example.com) can also answer your specific questions about the Social Security Disability Clinic and the Parole Assistance & Reentry Clinic.
Do students enjoy Clinics and Externships?
Clinic and Externship students consistently comment that these were some of the most valuable experiences obtained while in law school. They are both hard work and require a considerable time commitment, but the payoff can be invaluable.
What do students do in the Clinics that are currently offered?
The Law Center currently offers clinics in the areas of Immigration, Juvenile Defense, Civil Mediation, Family Mediation, Parole Assistance, Prosecution and Social Security Disability.
Students in the Juvenile Defense Clinic represent children in delinquency proceedings in East Baton Rouge Juvenile Court. Students have to opportunity to work for child clients who are often accused of committing serious offenses. They have the opportunity to represent the clients at all stages of the proceedings including detention hearings, adjudication (trial), and disposition. Students meet for class at the Law Center on Wednesday afternoons and then do most of their casework at the East Baton Rouge Juvenile Court Complex located close to the Baton Rouge airport. Although the focus is on juveniles, students learn substantive juvenile law, criminal law, and criminal procedure. Students also learn valuable client skills, case management, and trial skills. Most students have numerous opportunities to appear before the judges in the juvenile court.
The Immigration Law Clinic provides students with the opportunity to represent clients in immigration proceedings. Most of the clients accepted by the immigration clinic are victims of crime and domestic violence in the United States or fled their home countries to escape torture or persecution. The Clinic handles a myriad of immigration matters including asylum, VAWA, Special Immigrant Juvenile cases, and U Visa cases. Students also travel to Immigration detention facilities around the state and represent clients before the Executive Office of Immigration Review in Immigration Court in Oakdale, Louisiana or New Orleans. Students also represent clients in administrative matters in Citizenship and Immigration Services and on appeal before the Board of Immigration Appeals. Students will learn substantive Immigration law and procedure as well as develop essential lawyering skills. Although the focus is on Immigration, students develop skills important to be effective practitioners in any area of the law.
The Civil Mediation Clinic trains students to mediate resolution of conflict and assist as mediators in civil cases. After training, faculty supervise students in mediating cases referred from the Baton Rouge City Court or other referral sources. The course covers the basics of negotiation theory, the role of the mediator and fundamental norms of mediation, the skills and process of mediation, and the ethics of mediation.
The Parole Assistance and Reentry Clinic will focus on the representation of individual prisoners through the parole hearing process and further assist them with legal issues impacting their ability to reenter civilian life. Parole hearings are conducted by a panel of members of the Parole Board and will take place at the Department of Correction headquarters. Once the sentence, offense and other facts have been stated, the panel may question the prisoner and the attorney. The prisoner is allowed to make a statement and the student attorney will give a closing argument.
The Prosecution Clinic will work under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys in the East Baton Rouge DA’s Office, prosecute misdemeanors and assist in felony cases. Students in the Prosecution Clinic will learn about the prosecution function through experience and have the opportunity to appear in court regularly; interview victims, witnesses, and law enforcement; argue motions; conduct plea negotiations, and gain valuable trial experience.
Students in the Social Security Disability Clinic represent disabled, homeless individuals in the Social Security disability process, from application through the Appeals Council level. In addition to provided students the opportunity to represent real clients with pressing legal needs, the course will also allow students to explore the issues surrounding homelessness and the role of legal advocacy in helping address its causes and alleviate its consequences.
Who may enroll in a Clinic or Externship?
Clinical courses are limited to second and third-year students. The Juvenile Defense Clinic, Social Security Disability Clinic, Prosecution Clinic, and the Parole Assistance Clinic require student certification pursuant to Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XX and are limited to students who have completed four semesters of law school and who have also completed Legal Professions (Law 5721). Since Immigration Law and Civil and Family Mediation students and Externship students are not certified to practice law, they are available to second- and third-year students. There is an application process and Instructor approval required for enrollment in all Clinics and Externships.
Can students enroll in both Clinic and Externships? Can students take more than one?
Students can enroll in both Clinic and Externships and they can take more than one. However, because of the time commitment required, students are strongly discouraged from enrolling in more than one in any given semester. Also, some dual enrollment my create conflicts of interest. Students interested in multiple Clinic or Externship experiences should speak to either Professor Lancaster or Professor Brooks as early as they can in order to develop a plan for taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible.
What externships are currently offered?
Students can apply for admission in the Judicial Externship Program, the Governmental Externship Program, the Public Interest/Not-for-Profit Externship Program, or an Individual Externship. Summer Externships are offered for any Law Center student who has completed their first year of academic study at the Law Center.
Students in the Judicial Externship Program serve as law clerk externs in the chambers of judges in either the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (New Orleans or Lafayette), the Louisiana Supreme Court (New Orleans), the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans), the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana (Baton Rouge) or the Louisiana Circuit Court of Appeal for the First Circuit (Baton Rouge). Students’ experiences vary depending upon the court to which they are assigned, but all placements provide substantive experience for students working as judicial law clerks. The experience includes legal research and drafting memos, writ reports, bench briefs as well as record review and preparing or reviewing draft opinions. Students placed with the District Courts often have the opportunity to observe pretrial hearings and trials. Students placed in one of the appellate courts may have the opportunity to observe oral arguments. There is a required classroom component to the Judicial Externship Program that meets for one hour per week.
Students participating in the Governmental Externship Program have the opportunity to work in a number of different local, state, and federal government offices throughout Louisiana. Students may be placed in one of the legal divisions of the Louisiana Department of Justice/Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, the Offices of the District Attorneys for the 19th and 23rd Judicial Districts, the Louisiana Department of Revenue, the Office of the Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service, or other government offices as available. Students work with attorneys in these offices, conducting legal research, drafting memoranda, pleadings, trial and appellate briefs, and a variety of other legal documents. Students will also have the opportunity to observe a wide variety of court proceedings and hearings, and some will assist attorneys in preparing cases for hearings and trials. There is a required classroom component to the Government Externship Program that meets one hour per week.
Students participating in the Public Interest/Non-Profit Externship will advocate and defend the interests of poor and marginalized populations. This externship allows students to choose from several local public interest and non-profit organizations that serve the legal needs of the poor. Brief descriptions of the current organizations can be found linked on the Externships page. Students will gain hands-on experience and develop a wide variety of practical lawyering skills in both litigation and non-litigation practice settings. There is a required classroom componenet to the Public Interest/Non-Profit Externship that meets one hour per week.
Are there any prerequisites for enrolling in Clinics or Externships?
There are no set prerequisites for any of the Externships. However, in order to enroll in the Juvenile Defense Clinic, Social Security Disability Clinic, Prosecution Clinic, or the Parole Assistance Clinic, students will have to have completed The Legal Profession (LAW 5721). The prerequisite is required by Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XX. So, if you are interested in enrolling in these Clinics, it is highly recommended that you complete The Legal Profession during your second year. The Legal Profession is not required for enrollment in Civil Mediation, Family Mediation, or the Immigration Law Clinic.
How many credit hours can I receive per Clinic or Externship?
The Immigration Clinic, Parole Assistance Clinic, and Juvenile Defense Clinic are all 5 credit courses. They have a 2 credit course component and a 3 credit practicum. The Social Security Disability Clinic, Family Mediation and Civil Mediation Clinics are for 3 credit hours. The Judicial Externship Program, the Louisiana Governmental Externship Program, and the Public Interest/Non-Profit Externship are for 3 credit hours. The other Externship opportunities vary, so please consult registration information each semester.
Are Clinics and Externships more work than class room courses?
Not necessarily, but they are a lot of work and require a commitment of time. Unlike other courses that are often designed around a final exam or paper, Clinics and Externship courses do not require an exam or paper. Also, most other courses are carefully designed around a syllabus, readings, and class discussion, and Clinics and Externships are not. Although all Clinics and some Externships have a classroom component, they are designed so that most of the students’ learning comes through their work with their clients or their work in the field. Because of this, it is sometimes more difficult for students to manage their time compared to other courses. For example, in Clinic, a client may call with an emergency that needs attention immediately. Since the student is the lawyer, the student has a professional obligation to attend to the needs of the client. This obligation is fundamental to the practice of law.
How are Clinics and Externships graded?
The 5 credit Clinics are graded Pass/Fail for the 3 credit practicum component and letter grades are assigned for the 2 credit course component. All other Clinics and Externships are graded on a ranked Pass/Fail scale. An “E” is given for excellent performance; and “HP” for high pass; a “P” for pass; or an “F” for fail.
How do I enroll in a Clinic or Externship?
Prior to the registration period each semester, the Clinic Director will advise of opportunities to meet and discuss the LSU Law Center Clinical Programs and Externships. Students will complete an online application ranking their choice of each clinic or externship of interest and forward to the Clinic Coordinator. Students interested in externships must also submit a current resume. Each applicant will be interviewed by members of the Clinic faculty and will be admitted to a Clinic or Externship only by permission. Upon admission to a Clinic or Externship, we will contact the Registrar to allow the student to be registered.
Are placements into Clinics or Externships based on my GPA?
No. Clinics and Externships are open to all students. The application process for Clinics and Externships is to confirm interest and commitment and monitor for possible conflicts of interest. All students, regardless of past academic performance, are encouraged to apply. The only instance where grades are considered is in applicants for the Judicial Externship Program because some judges participating in the program request information on grades and review of a transcript prior to accepting a student for work in their chambers. The other Externships and Clinics do not have that same consideration.
What type of clients are represented in the Clinics? How do they qualify?
Clients of the LSU Law Clinic are identified through various agencies including the Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, Baton Rouge Bar Pro Bono Project, the East Baton Rouge Public Defender’s Office, the Louisiana Mental Health Advocacy Service, AIDSLaw of Louisiana, Baton Rouge Capital Conflict Office, and the Louisiana Public Defender Board. These individuals are unable to afford legal representation on their own. Also, Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XX requires that no certified law student can represent any individual whose income is more than 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Therefore, the Law Clinic represents individuals who are often living in extreme poverty and would have no access to the justice system but for student representation.
What is the faculty/student ratio in the Clinic?
The ratio varies, but Clinic classes are very small – generally no more than 8:1. The low student ratio means that faculty can work closely with students and are easily available for supervision and consultation on case work.
Who teaches the Clinic and Externships programs?
Clinics are taught by Law Center faculty as well as several extremely talented Clinical Adjunct Professors who are experienced, respected experts in their field. Externships are supervised by Law Center faculty and the classroom component, if required, is taught by Law Center faculty. However, students are placed with judges and attorneys in practice who serve as the students’ placement supervisor.
Is there a classroom component involved?
All Clinics have a classroom component. Classes meet in the Law Clinic classroom located in the Law Clinic space on the first floor of the Old Law Building. The Externships have a classroom component that meets one hour per week at the Law Center. The Individualized Externship does not have a classroom component (students also receive less credit), but do require numerous individual meetings with Law faculty over the course of the semester.
What if I have additional questions not answered here?
Please contact any of the clinical or externship faculty or staff members. You can also email Brenda.firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope to see ALL LSU Law Center students in at least one Clinic or Externship prior to graduation!!!