Clinical Education at Howard Law
Howard University’s Clinical Law Center provides outstanding education and training that teaches students the skills and substantive law necessary for the effective practice of law. Students learn through experience, reflection and classroom interaction. Committed to social justice, Howard’s Clinical Law Center provides leadership and service to the local, national and global community.
The Law School’s clinical courses are offered through the Clinical Law Center (CLC). The primary goal of the CLC is to provide a high quality course of training that teaches students the skills necessary for the effective practice of law. The model is one of learning through experience, with an ancillary benefit of providing assistance to the poor and the under-represented of the greater metropolitan District of Columbia area.
The Clinical Law Center offers seven in-house, actual-client clinical experiences: Criminal Justice Clinic, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Clinic, Civil Rights Clinic, Fair Housing Clinic, Investor Justice and Education Clinic, Intellectual Property and Trademark Clinic and the new Child Welfare/Faily Law Clinic. All of these clinical offerings are taught by regular tenured or tenure-track faculty or Supervising Attorneys here at the Law School, and students attend the classroom component of the course at the Law School. Additionally, through the Clinical Law Center students may enroll in the D.C. Law Students in Court Program, an actual-client clinical course offered through a consortium of local area law schools. The Law School’s Externship Program is also offered through the CLC and includes four separate externship courses: General; Fair Housing; Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Faculty and Staff
Criminal Justice Clinic
Tamar M. Meekins
Clinical Law Center Director
Associate Professor and Supervising Attorney
Associate Professor and Supervising Attorney
Civil Rights Clinic
Aderson B. Francois
Associate Professor and Supervising Attorney
Homer C. La Rue
Professor of Law and Supervising Attorney
Fair Housing Clinic
Valerie J. Schneider
Assistant Professor and Supervising Attorney
Investor Justice and Education Clinic
Adjunct Professor and Supervising Attorney
Intellectual Property and Trademark Clinic
Ray Thomas, Jr.
Adjunct Professor and Supervising Attorney
Child Welfare Clinic
Adjunct Professor and Supervising Attorney
Externship and Equal Justice Program
Externship Instructor and Equal Justice Program Coordinator
Clinical Administrative Coordinator
Alice Gresham Bullock
Professor of Law and IRS Externship Coordinator
Associate Professor and SEC Externship Coordinator
Externship Adjunct Professor
The Clinical Law Center is located on the first and ground floors of Notre Dame Hall. The main reception area is on the Ground Floor in Room G-18 which is open to clients and prospective clients during regular business hours. The student work area is located in a suite of rooms on the ground floor of Notre Dame Hall. The student work area is equipped with client interview rooms, a library and computer work stations that are available to clinical students during all hours in which students have access to the Law School facility. To maintain the confidentiality of client information and lawyer work-product, the student work area is kept locked. Access to the area is limited to those persons authorized to be in the area. Student Attorneys are crucial to the maintenance of the security of the area and are advised that they may not invite persons into the area who are not enrolled in one of the clinical courses at the law school or who are not there on client-related business. Additional client meeting space, a small conference room and the Clinic’s Resource Centers are located on the first floor of Notre Dame.
To be eligible for enrollment in any CLC clinical course interested students must complete an Application for Enrollment, interview and be accepted by the Supervising Attorney of the Program for which the student has applied. Any student who applies to multiple programs must be interviewed by the Supervising Attorney for each program. Students must turn in their application prior to the interview with one of the Supervising Attorneys. The Application requires that a resume be attached and that the student complete a brief personal statement of interest. Applications for the Spring 2014 semester are due in to the CLC Office (Notre Dame G-18) by close of business on October 30th. Additionally, students may sign up for interviews at any time as specified by the particular program’s supervising attorney in the CLC Office. Interviews will be scheduled with the individual Supervising Attorneys during the period from October 23rd through November 6th.
Students who are accepted into any of the clinical programs will be notified by e-mail posting prior to the start of the registration period for the Spring semester. Additionally, copies of the acceptance list will be posted in the CLC and around the Law School. A short waitlist may also be posted for each program; students who are waitlisted will be notified should a slot in the desired clinical program become available. Students may not register for a clinical course unless and until they are officially accepted into the program. The Clinic Director will notify officials in the Law School’s Record’s Office as to which students will be permitted to register.
Participation in each clinical program requires that students attend and participate in an orientation program prior to the start of the semester or during the first week of classes. The orientation program for each Clinic will be scheduled by the respective Supervising Attorney, and, in most instances, will take place in August, for the fall semester, and January, for the spring semester, just prior to, or during, the 1st week of classes of the fall or spring semesters. Students should take into account the schedule of the orientation and schedule their activities accordingly. Any student who is unable to attend, or fails to attend the orientation program may be dropped from the clinical course, and a student from the wait list will be allowed to register in his or her place. Please remember that the orientation program is mandatory.
Recently, the ADR Clinic has entered into an agreement with several federal agencies to allow students to participate in valuable mediation and arbitration activities carried on by these agencies. Because of the requirement of this agreement, students who are accepted and enroll in the ADR Clinic will be required to obtain a security clearance for participation in such activities with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP). Students who are unable or unwilling to secure the required security clearances may be dropped from the ADR Clinic at the discretion of the Supervising Attorney.
Students accepted into and who enroll in the ADR, Fair Housing and Civil Rights clinical programs will also be required to obtain student bar licenses issued by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Applications for these licenses must be completed by the accepted student and turned into the CLC office no later than TBA. CLC will then obtain the Dean’s certification and submit the applications to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the 4th & DC Circuit Courts where appropriate. Additionally, the IRS and SEC Externships require that students apply to these specific government agencies directly. You should speak with the Professor supervising these programs if you wish to apply.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Clinic
The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Clinic is an eight (8) credit, year-long clinical course offering. The course is open to a maximum of ten (10) students each year. Students wishing to enroll in the ADR Clinic must take the ADR survey course as a prerequisite to enrolling in the ADR Clinic.
The ADR Clinic has a classroom component as well as an actual case-handling component. The classroom component includes two seventy-five (75) minute seminars per week, during which students study the choices that lawyers make (often without reflection) about the processes available for the resolution of their client’s disputes. Through the use of simulated exercises, the classroom component will give students an opportunity to learn how to represent clients in dispute resolution processes other than litigation. Finally, students will learn the skills necessary to function as an effective third-party in various disputes. The seminar also will allow students to explore the legal issues which are extant in the still-emerging field of alternative dispute resolution, such as: (1) the problem of power imbalance between disputants in mediation; (2) the meaning of confidentiality in mediation; (3) the need for certification and/or licensing of mediators; (4) the ethical issues in mediation; and (5) the role of culture and diversity in the field of alternative dispute resolution.
The actual cases to be handled by the students will come from several sources. The Clinic has established a relationship with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) whereby students provide intake services and co-mediate with experienced professionals on employment disputes.
Another source will be disputes among students at Howard University arising from the University Judiciary system and the Office of Residence Life. This mediation program will be an important addition to the services offered to undergraduate students. A final source of cases would be small claims matters in the courts of the District of Columbia. Students will co-mediate cases with the officials in the Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Service. To prepare the students to begin to mediate cases as early in the semester as possible, all students who enroll in the ADR clinic must participate in an orientation session prior to the start of the semester or very near to the beginning of each semester. Any student failing to complete the forty-hour training program will be dropped from the ADR Clinic. The training session will include at least a full day on a Friday, a Saturday and a Sunday. No exceptions will be made as to participation in the orientation session.
Upon completing the forty-hour training, those who are deemed by the instructor to be prepared would then co-mediate with the instructor and/or with seasoned mediators who have volunteered to assist with the ADR Clinic. Those students deemed not yet prepared to participate as co-mediators would continue to develop their skills through the classroom component of the Clinic. They would also work with various organizations to identify appropriate cases for mediation and participate in other community education and outreach activities to educate the public of the uses and benefits of ADR.
Civil Rights Clinic (CRC)
The Civil Rights Clinic litigates on behalf of indigent clients in civil rights and social justice cases. Students in the clinic represent pro se plaintiffs in federal and state appeals before the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the United Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Cases include a range of civil rights matters such as employment and housing discrimination, police brutality, denial of full voting rights, unconstitutional prison conditions, and procedural barriers that preclude indigent litigants from effective access to the courts. Students work with faculty in classroom-seminar and clinical-practice settings to review the trial court record, prepare the appendix for appeal, consult with the client, research and write the appellate briefs, and prepare and conduct oral argument when such argument is granted by the court. The pedagogical goal of the Clinic is for students and faculty to critically examine the analytical and linguistic challenges of effective courtroom advocacy, the legal and strategic considerations of the appellate process, the ethical and professional obligations of client representation, and the social and political implications of civil rights advocacy. The CRC is a four-credit (4), one-semester clinic and will be open to a maximum of 10 students, depending on the cases that the Clinic accepts.
Eligibility and Prerequisites
- Successful completion of (4) semesters of law school study;
- Successful completion of a course in Civil Procedure, and Constitutional Law prior to the semester in which the student will be enrolled in the CRC. (Students are also strongly encourage to complete a course in Federal Courts and Civil Rights);
- Submission of a legal writing sample;
- Eligibility for admission to engage in limited practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit pursuant to Local Rule 46A, before the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit pursuant to Local Rule 46g, and in the District of Columbia pursuant Rule 48 of the Rules of the D.C. Court of Appeals;
- Timely completion of an application for enrollment in the CRC; and
- Interview and approval for enrollment by the faculty of the CRC.
Criminal Justice Clinic
The Criminal Justice Clinic (CJC) is a one-year clinical course for which a student receives twelve (12) credits. Because the course is year-long, a student receives no credit if he/she does not complete the second semester of the course.
The CJC course includes actual client representation and a classroom seminar. The classroom portion of the clinic includes two (2) seminar sessions per week, each of which is hour and fifty minutes in duration. The classroom component includes review of constitutional law, criminal procedure and evidence, as well as case rounds, analysis of ethical, strategic and client representation issues, and litigation skill development. The legal work includes the representation of indigent adult persons charged with criminal misdemeanors in the District of Columbia Superior Court. Students are responsible for all aspects of the representation of the client, under the direct supervision of the CJC faculty, including preparation for presentation of the case at all stages of the proceeding. Such preparation includes, but is not limited to, client and witness interviews, interaction with the Office of the United States Attorney and the Metropolitan Police Department, legal research and the drafting and filing of litigation pleadings. Students also appear in court at pretrial hearings, trials, sentencing proceedings and parole revocation hearings. The CJC continues to expand to other areas of criminal practice and may in various years include administrative hearings, juvenile justice matters or the representation of defendants in protective order violations in domestic relations cases.
Eligibility and Prerequisites:
- Successful completion of four (4) semesters of law school study;
- Successful completion of a course in Evidence, Civil Procedure, and Criminal Procedure (either Criminal Procedure I or Criminal Procedure II) prior to the semester in which the student will be enrolled in the CJC (concurrent enrollment in the CJC and the above-mentioned courses is not permitted);
- Eligibility for admission to engage in the limited practice of law in the District of Columbia pursuant to Rule 48 of the Rules of the D.C. Court of Appeals;
- Timely completion of an application for enrollment in the CJC; and
- Be interviewed and approved for enrollment by the faculty of the CJC.
- Attendance at a mandatory pre-semester orientation program.
Enrollment in the CJC is limited to sixteen (16) students per year. A student must register for the CJC during the Law School’s pre-registration period in the spring. Pre-registration, however, does not preclude the need to satisfy the eligibility requirements for enrollment, nor does pre-registration remove the necessity for faculty approval to enroll in the Clinic. As noted above all enrolled students must attend a mandatory multi-day orientation session held in August prior to the beginning of the regular fall semester.
Fair Housing Clinic
In the Fair Housing Clinic, students work directly with clients on housing discrimination and landlord-tenant matters as advocates, researchers and advisers, and engage in innovative and targeted community education and outreach projects. In addition to working directly with clients, students may be trained as “Fair Housing Testers,” allowing them to identify and investigate discriminatory housing practices, which may ultimately form the basis for a Fair Housing lawsuit.
The Fair Housing Clinic has two sections to accommodate students who wish to take a second semester of the clinic. Each section is offered as a four-credit, semester long clinical course. In the classroom component, students will study various aspects of the provision of public and private housing in the United States, including the laws prohibiting discrimination, according to race, gender, disability, family size, etc. Particular emphasis will be placed on the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and amendments of 1988, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act and other state and local proscriptions on discrimination in housing. Additionally, students will study D.C. laws and regulations related to tenancies and housing conditions.
Students in the Fair Housing clinic may be required to obtain student bar licenses issued by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. If so, the Supervising Attorney will give you a date that your application is due. CLC will then obtain the Dean’s certification and submit the applications to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Returning students must successfully complete the initial semester and be approved for enrollment by the Supervising Attorney. Returning Fair Housing Clinic students also receive 4 credits for the semester long clinical course and will take on leadership roles in casework and in the design and implementation of outreach and education programs. New students are required to participate in a mandatory orientation program. The clinic is open to second and third year students.
General Externship Program
The objective of the Externship Program is to teach students, through practical experiences, about the operation of the legal system and the role of lawyers in that system. Students enrolled in the Program work for one semester at a designated field placement at a public (i.e., governmental), nonprofit, or public interest institution or agency in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. During the summer, the placement site is not limited to any geographic location. In addition, students may work in a private law firm provided that the student’s work is of a public interest nature or relates to a pro bono matter undertaken by the firm. Students are also required to attend and participate in a weekly 75-minute seminar taught by the Clinic Director or Equal Justice Program Coordinator. The seminar focuses on a variety of issues and topics including, but not limited to the development of lawyering skills, problems arising at the placement site, ethical issues, discussion of other issues relating to placements, and career opportunities for public interest lawyers.
No enrollment will be permitted, or credit given, for a paid externship. Evaluation will be based on the student’s performance at the placement site (by the law school supervisor and the field supervisor), participation in classroom sessions, and periodic reviews of the student’s journal. A grade of “pass or no-pass” will be awarded.
A. Fall and Spring Semester Programs
During the Semester Program, students are required to work twelve (12) hours per week for thirteen (13) weeks, and must attend a seventy-five (75) minute weekly seminar. A student shall not be permitted to work in excess of twelve (12) hours per week at a placement site. Additionally, students are required to keep a journal of the student’s reflections and activities at the placement site.
A student shall receive four (4) hours of academic credit upon successful completion of the Semester Program. A student enrolled in the Externship Program shall not be permitted to enroll in a “live-client” clinical course offering during the same semester in which the student is enrolled in the Semester Externship Program. A student, however, may enroll in a “live-client” clinical course during the semester in which the student is completing the seminar portion of the Summer Externship Program. The maximum number of students enrolled in the Externship Program in any semester shall not exceed twenty (20) students, and shall include those students who have completed their field placement during the summer.
B. Summer Program
A maximum number of ten (10) eligible students will be permitted to complete their field placement during the summer (i.e., between the months of May and August) and to complete the weekly seminar during the fall semester immediately following the summer in which the field placement has been completed. Students who are enrolling in the Summer Program must register, be accepted into the program and attend a mandatory orientation during the spring semester immediately prior to beginning their summer field placement. Summer Program students must work a minimum of thirty-two (32) hours for ten (10) weeks and maintain a reflective journal of the student’s activities at the placement site. A student shall receive six (6) hours of academic credit upon successful completion of the Summer Program.
C. Eligibility and Prerequisites:
- Successful completion of two (2) semesters of law school study;
- Successful completion of a course in Legal Reasoning, Research & Writing;
- Selection of a placement which has been approved by the Equal Justice Program Director or Clinic Director;
- Written agreement of the Attorney Field Supervisor at the field placement that the placement will adhere to the responsibilities imposed by the Law School; and
- Be interviewed and approved for enrollment by the Equal Justice Program Director or the Clinic Director.
The SEC Externship is a new collaborative program offered by the CLC. It is taught by Professor Cheryl Nichols, who is an expert in securities regulation and related areas. Students who are accepted into the program are placed in the SEC’s Law Student Observer Program and “provides exposure to the workings of the Commission and to the regulation of securities and securities markets.” or approved securities regulations agencies. Externs are assigned to one of the Commission’s Divisions or Offices at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.; they are assigned to specific Commission staff to work on projects such as investigations of industry and issuer practices, administrative and civil enforcement actions, drafting of proposed statutes and rules, and analyzing international securities regulations and rules and must establish a working schedule with their supervisors. Also, HUSL Externs are required to attend educational seminars taught by senior Commission staff and prominent members of the private securities bar on a weekly basis. The SEC Externship provides an exceptional opportunity to learn about aspects of securities law and practice otherwise unavailable at HUSL. Also, HUSL Externs are exposed to excellence in governmental and public interest lawyering, which facilitates development of insights into the skills required for lawyering unobtainable in a conventional classroom. Students are also required to attend and participate in a weekly 75-minute seminar taught by the Professor Nichols. The seminar focuses on a variety of issues and topics including, but not limited to, an overview of the mission and operations of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, ethics in securities law practice, development of lawyering skills, problems arising at the placement site, discussion of other issues relating to placements, and career opportunities for securities lawyers.
The SEC Externship is a four (4)-credit course graded on a Pass/Fail basis. You are required to work 15-20 hours per week for at least 13 weeks. Students may not get paid for any portion of the field placement for which they are receiving credit. Evaluation will be based on the student’s performance at the placement site (by the law school supervisor and the field supervisor), participation in classroom sessions, periodic reviews of the student’s journal, and other assignments by the professor.
In the seminar, the instructor exposes students to the practices, policies and procedures of the IRS, as well as the substantive tax laws that govern the work of the Service. Externs secure a field placement with the IRS’ General Counsel’s Office and are assigned to work on a variety of projects. Like the SEC Externship, Howard Externs focus on excellence in governmental and public interest lawyering, social justice issues and professional responsibility. These key components are echoed in the work done at the field placement, as well as during the weekly 75 minute required classroom seminars taught by the instructor.
The IRS Externship is a four (4)-credit course graded on a Pass/Fail basis. Students are required to work 15-20 hours per week for at least 13 weeks (or other requirement set by Professor Gresham). Students may not get paid for any portion of the field placement for which they are receiving credit. Evaluation will be based on the student’s performance at the placement site (by the law school supervisor and the field supervisor), participation in classroom seminars, periodic reviews of the student’s journal, written work and/or other assignments by the supervising professor.
revised: January 28, 2015