• Why should I enroll in a full-year, in-house clinic or the Prosecutors Program?

    Our nationally ranked clinical programs offer students the opportunity to put theory into practice. Our full-year, in-house clinics operate like a legal services law firm embedded within the Law School in which students serve as lawyers on behalf of low- and moderate-income clients. In the Prosecutors Program, enrolled students work under the direct supervision of Assistant District Attorneys representing the Commonwealth in criminal matters in district courts throughout the Commonwealth. These clinics offer students the opportunity to perform all the tasks of a lawyer under the direct and intensive supervision of members of the law school faculty or post-graduate fellows. Clinic students represent clients and grapple with substantive legal issues, strategies, ethical and interpersonal issues inherent in lawyering. In working on their cases as the lead lawyers but with close supervision, students learn in a guided but self-directed manner that allows reflection on aspects of representation, how to improve their skills, and how to tackle new legal problems. The skills students learn and practice – such as interviewing and counseling clients, negotiating with opposing counsel and other parties, legal research and writing, navigating complex systems to further their clients’ interests, and courtroom advocacy – are transferable to any legal environment. Additionally, students often represent clients who otherwise would not have access to legal representation.
  • In addition to representing clients, what else will I do in a clinic or the Prosecutors Program?

    All of the full-year in-house clinics and the Prosecutors Program hold weekly one hour and 50 minute seminars taught by their clinical professors. Although class content varies, generally the curriculum focuses on the lawyering skills and ethical framework necessary to effectively represent clients or the Commonwealth. Weekly seminar attendance and active participation are required. In addition to the weekly seminars, students will have regular individual meetings with their clinic professors or other supervisors to obtain feedback and guidance on their cases. Students will be expected to take initiative in seeking answers to legal problems and performing the essential tasks of lawyering. This process of the student first finding the relevant information, thinking through its implications, and then bringing it to the professor for feedback is intended to guide the student towards a better understanding of the law and is known as “self-directed” or “active” learning. As part of their work, students may work in an interdisciplinary environment with non-legal professionals to help meet client goals and problem-solve.

  • What is the Clinical Innovation and Tech Fellowship - is it a separate Clinic?

     The Clinical Innovation and Tech Fellowship (CIT Fellowship) is not a separate Clinic. It is a group of students who will have specialized training in process management and legal technology, and who will be embedded within participating in-house clinics. Those clinics are: Family Advocacy, Health Law, Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship, Juvenile Defenders, and Prosecutors Program. The CIT Fellows will have a reduced caseload in their clinics so that they may develop and implement a process management or legal tech project designed to improve the functioning of their assigned clinic or improve access to justice in their clinic’s area of practice. Students interested in being selected as CIT Fellows should complete the Clinical Common Application, including designating their first and second choice clinics and noting their interest in a CIT Fellowship. Those interested in a CIT Fellowship will certify that they have completed the necessary additional pre-requisites. Interested students must also answer an additional essay question as part of the Clinical Common Application. Please see the separate fact sheet if you are interested in this fellowship. The separate CIT Fellowship fact sheet also includes a list of the clinics participating during the 2018-19 year.

  • How many hours per week should I expect to work in the full-year, in-house clinics and Prosecutors Program?

    Students should expect to work a minimum of 13 hours per week, excluding the seminar and seminar preparation. The type of work varies from clinic to clinic but generally involves work on cases, court appearances, client intake and counseling, preparation for and execution of out-of-seminar simulations, and other case-related projects. The 13 hours per week expectation is a minimum and workloads can be quite intense throughout the academic year. Students will be required to put in all the time needed to effectively advocate for their clients, even if that at times exceeds 13 hours per week. Further, the requisite hours often cannot be scheduled in advance (for example, 5 hours on Thursdays and the remainder over the weekend) because the timing of the work is case-driven.

  • How many semesters are the in-house clinics and Prosecutors Program?

    All full-year in-house clinics and the Prosecutors Program described in this packet and included in the Clinical Common Application are full-year programs. Students must be prepared to make a full year commitment to these programs. If students are interested in a one-semester opportunity, they should consider a Domestic or International Externship, Semester-in-Practice, or the Supreme Court Clinic (not offered Spring 2018).

  • How many credits will I receive for participating in an in-house clinic?

    All full-year in-house clinics and the Prosecutors Program offer 10 credits per year (5 credits per semester). Three credits per semester are awarded for the clinical practice and two are awarded for the seminar. No partial credits will be awarded.

  • Will I be graded in a full-year in-house clinic or the Prosecutors Program?

    Students in all full-year, in-house clinics will receive separate letter grades for the seminar and casework component. All letter grades will be given at the end of the year. Students enrolled in the Prosecutors Program will receive 6 ungraded credits for the field work component and 4 graded credits for the seminar component. Students in these programs will receive a detailed set of written Assessment Grading Guidelines describing the criteria that will be used to assess their performance and upon which their grade will be based at the end of the year. They also will receive both mid-year and end-of-year evaluations from their clinic professors or court supervisors.
  • What happens if I don’t do well in an in-house clinic or the Prosecutors Program?

    Students must satisfactorily meet the standards of the clinic as set forth in the Assessment and Grading Criteria. Your clinic professor will work closely with you to provide you every opportunity to meet these standards and to support you as you learn new skills. If a student enrolled in a full-year clinic or the Prosecutors Program consistently fails to meet clinic standards, that student will not be allowed to continue to participate in the program in the second semester and may forfeit credits as a result. The clinic professor will make the final determination as to whether the standards set forth in the Assessment and Grading Criteria have been met, and that decision will constitute a final grade under SULS’s grading policies. If a student is required to leave the clinic after one semester, the student will be given an unsatisfactory grade (C- or below).

  • What is the student/faculty ratio for in-house clinics and the Prosecutors Program?

    The typical student/faculty ratio in the in-house clinics is 8:1. Clinics accepting CIT students will have a ratio of 9:1 and the Family Advocacy Clinic, which benefits from both a practitioner in residence and a clinical professor, has a ratio of 10/11:2. Because the Prosecutors Program is a hybrid model in which Assistant District Attorneys provide on-site supervision, the ratio is higher, generally 24:1. Regardless of the precise student/faculty ratio, students receive concentrated, individualized attention from their clinic professor(s) and will have the opportunity to form close collaborative relationships with both clinical faculty and other clinic students.

  • Should I take a clinic even if it’s not in the area of law I want to pursue?

    You should consider taking a clinic even if you do not necessarily intend to practice in that clinic’s area of law. Regardless of the subject matter, all clinics teach essential lawyering skills, including problem solving, strategic thinking, client communications, professionalism, and ethics. These skills are transferable to all areas of law and a variety of practice settings (transactional, litigation, in-house, etc.). In addition, gaining experience in diverse areas of law will help to inform and enhance your eventual practice.

  • Do students get to go to court?

    It depends on the clinic. Students in certain clinics, such as the Suffolk Defenders, Juvenile Defenders, and Prosecutors Program, will appear weekly in court. Students in the Family Advocacy and Health Law Clinics may appear a few times per semester. Students in still other clinics may appear more often before administrative or legislative tribunals or may be involved mostly in transactional matters. For example, students in the Immigration Clinic appear frequently before the Immigration Court, a federal administrative court. Carefully review the individual clinic descriptions in this packet to determine which clinic(s) best match your interests and priorities.

  • How are students selected for a year-long, in-house clinic and the Prosecutors Program?

    Specific eligibility requirements and policies can be found on the Clinical Programs web page. Each individual clinic may also have additional requirements which are listed in the Clinical Common Application. Beyond these eligibility requirements, selection is based on a student’s overall Clinical Common Application package, including the answers to the essay questions provided on the application, the student’s transcript, resume, and prior experience. The clinical faculty is committed to engaging a broad cross-section of students in each clinic. As such, grades are not the primary tool by which students are selected. Enthusiasm for the student’s first choice clinic and relevant experience (professional, academic and life experience) are valued. The student’s enthusiasm and experience will be judged based on the student’s application essays and resume, as well as any required references or interviews. Students who possess foreign language skills may be given preference in some clinics. In order to provide opportunities for the greatest number of students, admission preference is given to students entering their last year of law school and to those who have not previously taken a clinic.

    In addition, students who apply for the CIT Fellowship, and who have satisfied the prerequisites, may be given preference in participating clinics, or may be given preference on the waitlist of participating clinics.

  • Do all applicants get accepted into an in-house clinic or the Prosecutors Program?

    Unfortunately, no. While we try to accommodate as many students as possible, we are unable to guarantee every applicant a spot in an in-house clinic. The number of applicants often significantly outnumbers the number of available in-house clinic and prosecutor slots. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to list an alternate program on the Clinical Common Application form, and to pursue externship opportunities if you are not accepted into your first or second in-house clinic choice. All students who apply for the in-house clinics or Prosecutors Program and are not accepted are guaranteed an opportunity to enroll in an externship for credit – either through the Civil and Judicial Externship (formerly called “Internship”) programs, International Externship Programs (formerly called “Internship”), Semester in Practice Programs, or by enrolling in a Directed Study placement.

  • Can a student take more than one in-house clinic?

    No student may be enrolled in more than one in-house clinic in any semester or receive more than 12 fieldwork credits (which includes credits for any externship/internship fieldwork) during his or her law school career. For the full-year in-house clinics, the fieldwork credits are 3 each semester for a total of 6 for the academic year. It is possible to take a semester-long externship one semester or summer and enroll in a full-year in-house clinic the following year as long as your total number of fieldwork credits do not exceed 12.

  • Can I work at an outside job while I am enrolled in a full-year, in-house clinic or the Prosecutors Program?

    In general, students are advised that they should not work more than 10 hours per week outside of law school if they plan to enroll in a clinic. Students needing to work more than 10 hours per week should seek their clinical professor's permission. Evening students, please refer to #18, below. In addition, it is vital to consider the type of outside employment. The in-house clinics function as a unitary law firm with different practice areas. Because of this law firm model, students in any in-house clinic will not be able to engage in employment, paid or unpaid, that may conflict with any of the other in-house clinics. For example, no student in an in-house clinic may simultaneously work at a district attorney's office because of the inherent conflict with Suffolk Defenders. Due to these potential conflicts, all outside employment must be reported at the time of application and at the start of the fall semester so that an employment conflict check can be performed. All students with outside jobs should speak with their clinic professors before enrolling to discuss whether they will have the necessary time and flexibility to devote to the clinic and to effectively represent their clients.

  • Will I have time to participate in clubs and activities while I am enrolled in a clinic?

    In-house clinics and the Prosecutors Program require substantial amounts of time. At varying, sometimes unpredictable times, the clinics may demand more than the 13 hours per week minimum. Because you will be representing real clients with life-affecting matters, your clients, and your clinic work must come first. Students with substantial commitments to other activities, including journals, clubs, organizations, or other responsibilities, should discuss their workloads with their clinic professors to ensure they make informed determinations whether they will have sufficient time to devote to the program.

  • Can I do an externship for credit at the same time as the clinic?

    No. A student is not eligible to apply for any of the externship programs, including the Civil and Judicial Externship Program, International Externship Program or Semester in Practice for any semester in which they have been accepted into one of the in-house clinics or the Prosecutors Program. Students must decline their acceptance to a clinic before proceeding to apply for an externship.

  • Can evening students enroll in an in-house clinic or the Prosecutors Program?

    Most clinics do accept evening students, provided that the students can be available to devote the minimum 13 hours per week to clinic work (plus seminar preparation and attendance) and are able to fulfill their obligations to their clients. Some clinics that involve frequent court appearances or meetings during business hours may be less conducive to the evening student schedule than others. If you are an evening student, you are encouraged to carefully review the individual clinic descriptions in this packet to determine which clinic(s) are the best match for your schedule. If an in-house clinic is not a good fit, you may find other experiential programs, such as externships or directed studies, to be more suitable.

  • If I do not get accepted into an in-house clinic or the Prosecutors Program, can I be placed on a waitlist?

    Yes. Those students who do not receive a slot in a clinic through the Clinical Common Appliation for the upcoming academic year (either their first or alternate choice) will be automatically placed on a waitlist. If a student accepted into any clinic declines the offer or withdraws from the clinic prior to the start of the semester, a student from the waitlist may be contacted and informed of the option to accept a position in that clinic. Clinical Programs cannot publicize a student’s place on the waitlist. If a student withdraws, priority will be given to other students who placed that clinic as a first or alternate choice. Waitlist priority may also be given to students who applied for the CIT Fellowship. If there are no other students who placed that clinic as first or alternate, the clinical supervisor will be given the option to choose from among the remaining students on the waitlist.

  • What about the Prosecutors Program?

    Although the Prosecutors Program is technically an externship with a District Attorney’s office, most of these FAQ’s apply equally to this program. That said, the Prosecutors Program is not part of the same law firm as the in-house clinics, thus students are advised to talk to Professor Diane Juliar about the possibility of engaging in outside employment and other limitations. Students in the Prosecutors Program may not engage in any criminal or juvenile defense work while participating in the Prosecutors Program. Please also see the separate FAQ sheet for the Prosecutors Program.

  • What are the "externships" and other experiential opportunities that are mentioned?

    Externships (formerly referred to as "internships") are field placements that can be taken for credit for one semester or during the summer term. We offer domestic and international externship placements for credit. Please check with Professor Bernadette Feeley for more details on the timing of a domestic externship and the application process. Please check with Professor Christine Bustany for more details on the timing of an international externship and the application process. We also offer other experiential opportunities designed to give students real legal practice experience, but that are not full-year in-house clinics. These include the Supreme Court Clinic (one-semester only) and the Accelerator to Practice Program (three-year program). All of these programs require separate applications - they are not part of the Clinical Common Application.

  • Can I apply for a full-year, in-house clinic and also an externship or two externships and see what happens?

    The Clinical Common Application allows students to apply for any of the full-year, in-house clinics and the Prosecutors Program only. Students may rank any of these programs as their first and second choices when applying - and are encouraged to choose an alternate. However, students will not be considered for a one-semester externship until they affirmatively decline their acceptance into a full-year program by the deadlines specified. Students who accept an offer of a clinic are advised that any late withdrawal will result in that student being ineligible to participate in any other Clinical Program or Externship for that semester for credit. 

  • What happens if I decide to withdraw from my clinic after being accepted?

     All students who accept a slot in a full-year, in-house clinic or the Prosecutors Programs and later decide to withdraw must withdraw through the Office of Academic Services and by notifying their clinical professor on or before May 31, 2017. Withdrawal after this published deadline may not be permitted. Withdrawal for extraordinary circumstances will require special permission from the clinic professor and the Associate Director of Clinical programs. Please read carefully the full withdrawal policy below.