As part of Suffolk's robust experiential learning offerings, the in-house clinics provide students the opportunity to learn best practices in all aspects of client representation under the close supervision of our nationally ranked clinical law faculty. From representing young people facing juvenile delinquency hearings from school to helping microenterprises fight “corporate bullying,” students in the clinics help solve real world problems for clients who would otherwise go unrepresented.
Each of the in-house clinics trains students to be practice-ready by teaching key legal skills in the context of a real world client/problem; asking students to consistently reflect on their performance; and documenting improvements in skills over time. This reflective process allows students to move from learning the law to doing the law and doing it well. By the end of the year, students in every clinic have interviewed and counseled clients, engaged in strategic decision making and advocated for their clients’ interests. It’s what makes clinic alumni consistently say that their clinic was the best experience they had in law school.
- Application for Clinical and Experiential Programs
- Clinical Registration Packet for 2020-21 [PDF]
- Important Dates
- Frequently Asked Questions
To be eligible to enroll in most in-house clinics, students must be in their last two years of law school. Suffolk Defenders and Suffolk Prosecutors are only open to students in their final year.
- There may be prerequisites or co-requisites for specific clinics. Please see the Clinical Programs Registration Packet for these details.
In addition, students must be eligible to be certified as student practitioners pursuant to Rule 3:03 of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”). Suffolk has adopted this rule and requires that all students applying for a clinic be both:
- In good academic standing at time of application and when the clinic begins; and
- Have successfully completed Evidence. Successful completion means that a student has received a satisfactory grade.
Students with questions about good academic standing or satisfactory grades should consult with the Dean of Students.
- No more than 12 experiential credits may be accumulated by any student without a waiver from the Associate Dean of Experiential Education.
Suffolk Law Clinics
The Accelerator Practice is an in-house law practice located within Suffolk Law School and newly created in 2014 as part of the larger Accelerator Program.
The in-house Accelerator practice represents average-income individuals who otherwise lack access to the justice system. Students will develop the legal skills and business practices needed to lead or participate in a solo or small private law firm.
The goal of the FAC is for student attorneys to learn and develop insight into the practice of law, using family and poverty law as the paradigm for this learning. Family law cases include divorce, paternity, custody, visitation, child support, and other family dissolution matters such as abuse prevention cases. Student attorneys are expected to perform all the lawyering tasks necessary to the representation of their client from initial interviews to trial (with ongoing supervision by faculty).
All clinic students handle both guardianship and social security/disability appeal cases – from initial interviews through court hearings. “I want them to have the chance to work from different sides of a question,” says Sarah Boonin, clinic director. “What does it mean to be a family member struggling with the disability of someone you love, and what does it mean to be the person with the disability in need of help.”
The Immigration Clinic seeks to meet the greatest needs for immigrant representation currently present in the local community such as removal defense and asylum intake. Students will represent low income non-citizens facing deportation from the United States with a primary focus on individuals detained by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (“ICE”). Students will also represent youths and other vulnerable populations seeking lawful status.
The clinic provides students with an opportunity to represent a tribal government or indigenous organization and develop transferable lawyering skills such as client interviewing and counseling and document drafting.
Students will work closely with staff and attorneys at the New England Innocence Project (housed at Suffolk University Law School) and with other attorneys handling wrongful conviction matters in the Commonwealth. Students will work under the direct supervision of an Adjunct faculty member. Students will investigate potential cases of wrongful convictions and will report on their investigation findings. Students will have a unique opportunity to learn about all aspects of wrongful convictions and the broader criminal justice system.
This innovative law clinic provides students with the hands-on, practical experience needed to navigate the rapidly evolving fields of intellectual property and entrepreneurship. With direct supervision, IPEC students hone the fundamental skills of counseling, advocacy, transactional practice, applying best practices, and establishing high ethical standards.
Defending children in Boston Juvenile Court -- in bail, pre-trial suppression, and probation hearings, as well as jury and bench trials -- is only one lawyering skill students learn in this clinic. Students may also represent youth in CHINS cases or in proceedings with state agencies. They study and use the rules of procedure and discovery; master the details of evidence, the criminal code, and Constitutional law; and investigate their cases in the depth. And throughout it all, they learn how to develop an ongoing professional relationship with their client and client’s family.
The Suffolk Defenders represent clients charged with misdemeanors and felonies in the Boston Municipal Court. The Defenders provide their clients representation in all phases of the court process, including arraignment, bail hearings, suppression and discovery hearings, pretrial conferences, trials, sentencing and occasionally post conviction hearings.
As student prosecutors, participants learn the multi-faceted role of the District Attorney in the prosecution of criminal cases including handling arraignments and bail/detention hearings, interviewing witnesses, providing discovery, handling pre-trial motions, engaging in plea negotiations, preparing for trial, arguing dispositions and writing legal memoranda. Students are likely to handle evidentiary hearings on Motions to Suppress and may also handle bench or jury trials during the year.
Student-Attorneys will represent low-income individuals and non-profits in matters before appellate courts including the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the First Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court, depending on case and client needs.
Student-attorneys will counsel clients on a range of transactional law matters, including entity formation, nonprofit applications for tax-exempt status, real estate, and contract drafting and negotiation. Students will represent founders and boards of directors to start, grow, and support organizations and businesses in the Greater Boston area, with an emphasis on organizational clients that are committed to empowering the community and creating economic equity.
What is a Clinic Like?
Students who accept a slot in the in-house, full-year clinics must commit to being in the clinic for a full academic year. (10 credits) Partial credit is not available. Students interested in a one-semester experience can explore our one-semester clinics (as offered), or the various externship offerings. We also offer part-time clinics.
Students receive two letter grades at the end of the academic year, one for the seminar component of their clinic and one for the case/project work component. Clinical faculty will provide a verbal evaluation at the end of the first semester and a written evaluation at the end of the academic year based on detailed grading criteria. More detailed information can be found in the Clinical Programs Registration Packet.
The time commitment for the clinics includes:
- a weekly clinic seminar that focus on lawyering skills and ethics;
- a weekly supervision meeting that focuses on professional development and case strategy;
- at least 13 hours a week of field work (please note that 13 hours a week is the minimum number of hours required and students should consult relevant clinical faculty about the average number of hours required);
- students enrolled in a part-time clinic or lab will have reduced work expectations. Please contact the faculty member for additional details.
While regular feedback and supervision is offered, students are expected to be self-directed in their learning.
As further detailed in the grading criteria, clinic students are expected to demonstrate the following by the end of the academic year:
- professional habits and judgment,
- an understanding of ethical obligations,
- fundamental lawyering skills and values,
- critical thinking,
- cross-cultural competence, including client-centered lawyering, listening and non-legal language skills.
There is a uniform application for the in-house clinics and the Suffolk Prosecutors program. The specific programs associated with the uniform application are listed on that form, which will be available as a link on this website in the month of February. The application requires that students complete a series of short answer questions and attach a current resume and transcript (unofficial is fine).
The application becomes available in the beginning of February and will be on the Clinical webpage here. Late applications are reviewed only after all other applications are considered. Applications must be submitted online using the online application. Paper applications will not be accepted. Please do not email the application directly to any clinic director or to clinic staff.
The in-house clinics and the Prosecutors Program select students based on a student’s overall application, including the statement of interest, review of a student’s transcript, resume, and prior experience. In some cases, preference in these programs is also given to students with relevant foreign language fluency or completion of relevant courses. Some programs require an interview prior to acceptance. Please refer to the Clinical Programs Frequently Asked Questions (available online and in the Clinical Programs office) for more details on the application process and the section referencing important dates. There is an Informational Session around the time the application becomes available in February. Clinical faculty and current students will be available to assist with questions.
Some students may be selected for interviews with a clinic director. Interviews are conducted at the discretion of individual directors and students will be contacted if an interview is required. All interviews will be conducted in March. Please do not contact clinical faculty or staff regarding interviews.
Results of the selection process will be mailed to students prior to early registration. Students will receive an email confirming status of their application. Students must respond to the offer of placement in an in-house clinic. Subsequent withdrawal from can result in students being barred from participation in other externship programs. Thus, it is vital that students speak with all relevant faculty about their goals and plans.
Students applying using the uniform application are reminded that they may not simultaneously apply to the Civil and Judicial Externship Program.
Conflicts of Interest
Students are ineligible for clinical programs if their employment presents an actual conflict of interest with any of the in-house clinics. Because the in-house clinics are viewed as a single law firm, students who are engaged in employment that conflicts with the clients of any of the clinics may be disqualified under Mass R. Prof. C. 1.7, 1.8 and 1.10. All students participating in an in-house clinic or the Prosecutors Program will be trained in and must comply with the Clinical Programs detailed conflict of interest policies.