• Why should I enroll in an in-house clinic?

    A clinic is an opportunity to put theory into practice. Clinics offer a student the opportunity to perform all the tasks of a lawyer under the direct and intensive supervision of a member of the law school faculty. Clinic students represent clients and grapple with the substantive legal issues, strategies, and ethical and interpersonal issues inherent to lawyering. In working on their cases as the lead "lawyer" but with close supervision, students learn in a guided but self-directed manner that allows greater 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. Finally, students will represent clients who otherwise would not have access to the legal system.

  • In addition to representing clients, what will I do in an in-house clinic?

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

  • How many hours per week should I expect to work in the in-house clinics?

    Students should expect to work a minimum of 15 hours per week including the seminar and weekly supervision meetings. The type of work varies from clinic to clinic but generally this involves work on cases, court appearances, preparation and execution of out of class simulations, and class preparation. Students should be aware that the 15 hours a week is a minimum and workloads can be quite intense throughout the academic year. Also, the requisite hours often cannot be scheduled in advance (for example, 5 hours on Thursdays, and the rest over the weekend) because the timing of the work is client and court driven.

  • How many semesters are the in-house clinics?

    All in-house clinics are full-year programs. Students must be prepared to make a full year commitment to these programs.

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

    All in-house clinics offer 8 credits (4 credits per semester). No partial credits will be awarded.

  • How will I be graded in an in-house clinic?

    Students receive letter grades for both the seminar and casework components of all in-house clinics. Students in these programs will receive a detailed set of written Assessment Grading Guidelines from their individual clinic professor describing the criteria that will be used to assess their performance and on 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 professor.

  • What happens if I don’t do well in an in-house clinic?

    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 consistently fails to meet clinic standards, that student will not be allowed to continue to participate in the clinic in the second semester and may forfeit credit as a result. The clinic professor will make the final determination as to whether in his or her judgment the standards set forth in the Criteria have been met, and the decision will constitute a final grade under SULS’s grading policies. If a student is required to leave the clinic after one semester, a grade of either credit or no credit will be given.

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

    The typical faculty/student ratio is 8:1. 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 an in-house 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 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. 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, Prosecutors Program, and Family Advocacy Clinic, may appear in court frequently. Students in other clinics may appear more often before administrative or legislative tribunals, or may be involved in mostly 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 an in-house clinic?

    Students should be aware that there are certain eligibility requirements and policies as described on the Clinical Programs web page. Beyond these eligibility requirements, selection is based on a student’s overall application, including the statement of interest, review of a 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 and experience with relevant skills 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.

  • Do all applicants get accepted into an in-house clinic?

    Unfortunately, no. While we try to accommodate as many students as possible, we are unable to guarantee every applicant a spot in a clinic. The number of applicants often significantly outnumbers the number of available clinic slots. For this reason, we encourage you to apply to more than one clinic, and to pursue internship and externship opportunities if your clinic application is not accepted.

  • 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 internship fieldwork) during his or her law school career. For the in-house clinics, the fieldwork credits are 2 each semester for a total of 4 for the academic year. It is possible to take a semester-long internship one semester or summer and enroll in an in-house clinic the following year.

  • Can I work at an outside job while I am enrolled in an in-house clinic?

    In general, students are advised that they should not work more than 15 hours per week outside of law school if they plan to enroll in a clinic. Evening students, please refer to #17, 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 an in-house clinic will not be able to engage in employment paid or unpaid that may conflict with any of the in-house clinics. For example, no student in an in-house clinic may 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. Students with outside jobs should also speak with their clinic professor 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?

    Clinics require substantial amounts of time outside the usual course hours and at varying, sometimes unpredictable times. Because you will be representing real clients with often 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 workload with their clinic professor to ensure that each students can make an informed determination they will have sufficient time for a clinic.

  • Can I do an internship at the same time as the clinic?

    No. A student is not eligible to apply for any of the internships including the Civil and Judicial Internship Program if they have been accepted into one of the in-house clinics. Students must decline their acceptance/clinic position before proceeding to seek and apply for an internship.

  • Can evening students enroll in a clinic?

    Most clinics do accept evening students, provided that the student can be available to devote the minimum 15 hours per week to clinic work and are able to perform their obligations to their clients. Some clinics that involve frequent court appearances 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 I do not get accepted into a clinic, can I be placed on a waitlist?

    Yes. Those students who do not receive a slot in a clinic for the upcoming academic year will be 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. Students are informed that the 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. 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 internship with a District Attorney’s office, FAQ’s 1-5, 7-12 and 15-18 apply equally to this program. 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 limitations. Students in the Prosecutors Program may not engage in any criminal or juvenile defense work while participating in the Prosecutors Program

  • What does "Other Internship" mean?

    The term "Other Internships" on p. 1 refers to internships that can be taken for credit for one semester or during the summer term. Please check with relevant internship faculty for more details on the timing of a particular internship and the application process.

  • Can I apply for an in-house clinic and an internship or two internships?

    The Unified Clinical Programs Application allows students to apply for any of the full-year clinics. Students may rank any of these programs as their first and second choices when applying. However, students are advised that they will not be considered for a one semester internship until they either 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 Clinical Program/Internship for that semester for credit.