Legal Aid Clinic
Since 1967, the Legal Aid Clinic has been working to secure “justice for and to protect the rights of the needy.” Students in the clinic, which is housed in Green Hall, work under the supervision of clinical faculty members and represent low-income clients in Lawrence Municipal Court and Douglas County District Court. Cases include:
- domestic relations
- landlord-tenant disputes
- other civil and misdemeanor criminal matters
The goal of the clinic, apart from providing legal assistance to those who might not be able to get it elsewhere, is to instruct students on the tasks and challenges of trial lawyers and instill them with confidence in their ability to practice law when they graduate. For the past decade, the clinic has served an average of 353 new clients annually.
Gaining experience, building trust: Tristan Tafolla, L'10
Tristan Tafolla had already completed the Criminal Prosecution Clinic, but he enrolled in the Legal Aid Clinic to “see both sides of the coin.” He noticed that he really built connections with clients while defending their interests. Tafolla, L’10, advocated for a mother of two who faced up to 90 days in jail for repeat offenses of driving with a suspended license. “It was pretty clear-cut; she did it,” Tafolla said. “It was a matter of how the sentence should be carried out.” After explaining the situation – single mom, recent bad divorce, no money for auto insurance – Tafolla negotiated a deal in which his client spent just two days in jail, the statutory minimum, and served the rest of her time on house arrest. “There are some cases that really tug at the heart strings,” he said, “especially when children are involved.”
Eligible legal aid interns must satisfy Supreme Court Rule 719, which requires that they have completed four semesters of course work (60 hours) and be in good academic standing. Professional Responsibility is a prerequisite, and Trial Advocacy is a pre- or co-requisite. The clinic requires a two-semester commitment: either summer-fall (9 hours total) or fall-spring (8 hours total).
Timeline for 2013 Enrollment Cycle
To enroll in either of the upcoming summer-fall or fall-spring semesters, students must submit an application by 5 p.m. March 15, 2013, with a copy of their resume attached. Students must sign up for an interview, conducted somewhat informally, on either Monday, March 25, Tuesday, March 26, or Thursday morning, March 28. Students will be notified by 5 p.m. March 28 if they have been accepted for enrollment.
Applications are available below and in the Legal Aid office, 105 Green Hall.
Download an application (PDF)