The Legal Aid Clinic at KU Law offers students the opportunity to fine-tune their lawyering skills in a fast-paced, live-client setting.
Students represent low-income clients under the careful guidance and thoughtful teaching of supervising attorneys. All clinic students must become licensed for supervised practice through Kansas Supreme Court Rule 719, which requires a minimum of 44 hours of coursework.
The clinic has three components: a weekly class meeting, formal and informal supervision, and live-client representation. During class meetings, students discuss cases, practice skills through simulations, and discuss readings. In supervised sessions, students work one-on-one with faculty. The highlight for many students is the chance to take the lead role in representing clients. Students build competence by handling initial client interviews, court appearances and motion arguments, and seeing a case through settlement or trial.
The Legal Aid Clinic faculty strives to select and assign cases that offer the greatest opportunity for impact and growth. The clinic's caseload is divided into four general areas:
- A criminal practice for juveniles charged with crimes in Douglas County District Court
- A criminal practice for adults charged with crimes and municipal violations in Lawrence Municipal Court
- A civil practice to provide legal assistance for individuals seeking name and gender marker changes through the Douglas County District Court
- A civil practice that may focus on school discipline, mental health, race and educational equity, and other emerging matters
Since 1967, the Legal Aid Clinic has been working to secure “justice for and to protect the rights of the needy” in a wide range of civil and misdemeanor criminal cases.
Legal Aid Clinic Resources
Eligible legal aid interns must satisfy Kansas Supreme Court Rule 719, which requires that they have completed three semesters of course work (44 hours) and be in good academic standing. Professional Responsibility is a prerequisite. Trial Advocacy is a prerequisite or co-requisite. The clinic is a one-semester commitment, with a second-semester option for eligible students.
Clinic applications are usually due about two weeks before a semester’s registration opens. Check with faculty for specific deadlines.
For more information about enrolling in the Legal Aid Clinic, please contact the clinic faculty or stop by 105 Green Hall.
Meredith Schnug serves as a clinical associate professor and associate director of the Legal Aid Clinic. Schnug teaches Advanced Litigation, coordinates the law school's Pro Bono Program and assists with coaching the mock trial team.
Student Testimonial: Gaining practical experience through Legal Aid Clinic
Katy Kettler, L'19
Katy Kettler participated in the Legal Aid Clinic during her final year of law school. During her time in Green Hall, she also earned academic credit for involvement with the Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies and the Medical-Legal Partnership Field Placement Program.
What did you learn from your experience with the Legal Aid Clinic?
I think getting to work with someone – opening a case and closing a case with a client – is not an experience you get anywhere else. Feeling that ownership over your work, and also the responsibility, makes you want to be better at what you’re doing. You are actually impacting someone. It matters that you do a good job.
It is a really good experience, and I would recommend it to anyone else in law school.
What initially got you interested in the Legal Aid Clinic?
I’ve always known that I wanted to do public interest work, so it just fit for me to do the Legal Aid Clinic.
I definitely enjoy clinic work more than the classroom. I think it has made me more aware of my interests and what I’m drawn to. I’m glad I’ve gotten that practical experience.
How do you think this experience will apply after you’re done with school?
I think clinic experience will help me feel less anxious about my first job because I have now worked with clients, been in a courtroom and experienced a collaborative environment with peers. I think that having done the clinic will make the transition a little easier to my first job.