Clinical Programs

UW Law School is committed to practical experience as a part of legal education. UW Law was one of the first law schools to initiate a clinical program, and since then, it has strengthened and increased the number of clinical opportunities it provides. Clinicals provide hands-on lawyering experiences with real people—clients, victims, witnesses, family members, lawyers, and judges—and give you a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a lawyer. Under the direct supervision of clinical professors or supervising attorneys, students meet with clients, perform factual investigations, research legal issues, prepare client letters, draft legal documents, and write briefs.

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Center for Patient Partnerships

Students from the Law School, across campus, and throughout the country come to this interdisciplinary health care advocacy center to advocate for patients facing life-threatening and serious illnesses, helping them navigate through the health care system.

The center provides a national resource for strengthening the consumer perspective in health care. Students provide support and information related to a wide variety of issues including internal insurance appeals, public benefit programs and health care reform. Our intensive orientation, regular educational seminars, case rounds and online discussions provide ample learning opportunities while building a rich interdisciplinary community.

Area of LawHealth, Disability, Employment
Program StartSummer
Length of Program and CreditsSummer (7 cr) + optional Fall semester (2-4 cr)
Number of Positions6 Classes Eligible2L & 3L
PrerequisitesNone

Center for Patient Partnerships Homepage

Consumer Law Clinic

In this clinic, students represent consumers against scammers, fraudsters and predators in the marketplace. They learn to navigate through complex legal issues, including consumer credit transactions, forced arbitration, foreclosure, predatory lending, and bad faith insurance denials.

The Consumer Law Clinic functions as a dynamic consumer protection practice, featuring advocacy, litigation and consumer education. Students handle all aspects of consumer protection cases, from start to finish, including individual and class-action litigation in state and federal courts. They serve as amicus curiae on consumer protection issues before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and Wisconsin Supreme Court and regularly partner with state agencies and private consumer lawyers.

Area of LawConsumer protection, Predatory lending, Foreclosure
Program StartSummer
Length of Program and CreditsSummer (7 cr) + 2 semesters (4 cr, 4 cr)
Number of Positions6 Classes Eligible2L & 3L
PrerequisitesNone

Consumer Law Clinic Homepage

Criminal Appeals Project

Students in the Criminal Appeals Project represent clients appealing their convictions of crimes under Wisconsin law. Students combine class work on appellate procedure and advocacy, client-centered representation, issue spotting, and persuasive writing with their work on an actual criminal appeal assigned by the State Public Defender's Office. In the fall semester, and under the supervision of experienced appellate attorneys, students meet their appeal clients, read transcripts, and communicate with the persons involved in the case. Ultimately the students must determine whether there is a meritorious appeal for each case assigned.

Assuming a case has merit, students research and write the appellate brief for the case during the spring semester. Students attend a weekly large group section where they study appellate procedure, the ethics of appellate representation, issue spotting and persuasion. They also participate in a weekly discussion where they analyze their cases. Students may participate in hearings before a court.

Area of LawCriminal, Appellate advocacy
Program StartFall
Length of Program and CreditsFall (4 cr) + Spring (4 cr) semesters
Number of Positions10 Classes Eligible2L & 3L
PrerequisitesCriminal Procedure recommended

Criminal Appeals Project Homepage

Family Court Clinic

Family Court Clinic students represent individual clients in family law matters under the supervision of experienced clinical faculty and provide legal information and guidance to unrepresented litigants. Through direct service to the community, students learn how to think and act like lawyers. They develop an understanding not only of the social and economic contexts in which the litigants’ problems occur, but also of the possibilities and limitations of the legal system.

The clinic provides much-needed assistance to unrepresented family law litigants in our community. It simultaneously affords law students an extraordinary opportunity to develop their lawyering skills and advance their emotional intelligence through reflection and client interactions. Students work at the Dane County Courthouse as well as at a community office, located in a low-income, culturally diverse part of the city.

Area of LawFamily, Guardianship
Program StartSummer
Length of Program and CreditsSummer (7 cr) + 2 semesters (4 cr, 4 cr)
Number of Positions6 Classes Eligible2L & 3L
PrerequisitesNone

Family Court Clinic Homepage

Family Law Project

Above anything, we value our freedom and our families. But people who are incarcerated face great barriers to establishing or maintaining relationships with loved ones, especially their children. Students in the Family Law Project (FLP) work with incarcerated persons to establish and maintain their family relationships and to assist them with problems arising from the intersection of incarceration and family law. That work can have a life-changing impact on the clients’ current and future well-being, as well as on that of their children.

FLP students are responsible for every aspect of their clients’ cases. They strategize with their supervising attorney to determine the best course of action for every client; meet with their clients at prisons around the State; interview witnesses; investigate the facts of the case; draft and file court pleadings; negotiate settlement agreements; write trial (and sometimes appellate) briefs; advocate for their clients’ interests with guardians ad litem and opposing counsel; and, prepare for and conduct hearings before court commissioner and circuit court judges.


Area of LawFamily law, Paternity
Program StartSummer
Length of Program and CreditsSummer (7 cr) + 2 semesters (4-5 cr, 3-4 cr)
Number of Positions6 Classes Eligible2L & 3L
Prerequisites

Family Law Project Homepage

Federal Appeals Project

The Federal Appeals Project is a recent expansion of the Oxford Federal Project and offers students the opportunity to litigate federal criminal appeals assigned by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

On a regular basis, the students and their supervising attorney gather to grapple with the legal and ethical issues their cases raise. Oxford Federal Project and Federal Appeals Project students learn how to navigate through a complex legal system — taking on adversarial and collaborative roles — while advocating on behalf of their clients. Most students have opportunities to appear and advocate before judges, parole hearing examiners, immigration panels, or other decision-makers.


Area of LawCriminal, appellate advocacy
Program StartFall start
Length of Program and CreditsFall (4 cr) + Spring (4 cr) semesters
Number of Positions6 Classes Eligible2L & 3L
PrerequisitesCriminal Procedure recommended

Federal Appeals Project Homepage

Government and Legislative Law Clinic

In this clinic, students participate in the many facets of governmental law, policy creation and implementation, and the legislative and regulatory process. Under the direct supervision of clinical faculty and on-site agency staff, students gain rare, firsthand experience working with law and policy where the “client” is a legislative body or administrative agency.

Throughout the semester, students scrutinize the legislative lawmaking processes, the implementation of statutes by administrative agencies through rulemaking and other procedures, and the role of courts in interpreting statutes and reviewing administrative action at the behest of affected private parties.

Area of LawRegulatory State, State and Federal Administrative Law, Policy
Program StartFall or Spring
Length of Program and CreditsFall (4 cr) semester and/or Spring (4 cr) semester
Number of Positions10-15 Classes Eligible2L & 3L
PrerequisitesNone. Administrative Law highly recommended.

Government and Legislative Law Clinic Homepage

Immigrant Justice Clinic

Working under faculty supervision, clinic students represent clients in all aspects of their cases, from intake interviews, factual and legal investigation, and brief writing to final hearings in the Chicago Immigration Court. Students also conduct presentations in the community to educate noncitizens about their rights and to raise awareness about the challenges faced by immigrants in our area.

The UW Law School’s Latino Law Students Association, working in collaboration with volunteer attorneys from the Community Immigration Law Center, applied for and won a grant to start the clinic. The Immigrant Justice Clinic is Wisconsin’s only nonprofit dedicated exclusively to serving noncitizens in detention and removal proceedings. This is a vitally needed service: Though clients face potential deportation, which often means forced long-term separation from loved ones, they have no right to court-appointed attorneys if they cannot afford one.

Area of LawImmigration Detention and Removal Proceedings, Immigration Consequences of Crimes, Humanitarian Immigration Law
Program StartSummer
Length of Program and CreditsSummer (7 cr) + 2 semesters (4 cr, 4 cr)
Number of Positions6 Classes Eligible2L & 3L
PrerequisitesNone

Immigrant Justice Clinic Homepage

Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic

The student attorneys in the Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic act as business and corporate counsel to more than 200 clients per year. Participation requires thinking like a lawyer and acting like an entrepreneur. Students work on legal needs including business formation, capital structure, angel and venture-backed securities, and employment and founders contracts. Students interested in intellectual property issues will file trademark and patent applications, perform patentability and freedom-to-operate analyses, and write proprietary and open-source licenses for technology clients. 

Located down the street from the Law School at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, the L&E Clinic operates similarly to a private practice law firm. Participants manage their own client load, bill time, manage and prepare documents, and report to supervising attorneys, other students and outside partners. 

Area of LawBusiness transactions
Program StartSummer start for core group; additions at fall and spring semester
Length of Program and CreditsDependent on mutual consent; Summer (7 cr) + 2 semesters (3-7, 3-7)
Number of Positions15-20 Classes EligiblePriority to 3Ls
PrerequisitesNone; Business Organizations and Introduction to Intellectual Property recommended

Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic Homepage

Legal Assistance to Institutionalized Persons (LAIP)

LAIP has worked to fulfill the unmet needs of underserved and vulnerable prison inmates for over four decades. Students experience and reflect on the profound human consequences of an individual's involvement in the criminal system. The students are involved in real legal work. The first week, they meet clients and have client interviews. A student may draft a motion to a court by mid-summer. With the variety of issues inmates face, students get a variety of legal experiences, both criminal and civil. The students are the advocates for their clients; they are their voice. The student ensures that the clients receive justice in the system. They advocate on paper with motions and parole letters, and orally by representing clients at hearings. Students work closely with courts, opposing attorneys, criminal justice agencies and prison personnel.

Supervising attorneys offer support and guidance, but the student decides how to serve the clients' needs. Although students have their own clients, they are part of a team and expected to talk through problems, generate ideas, and offer each other support. Students see the results that they achieve for their clients. They see cases to the end. Each stage of a case offers different challenges, giving students a chance to experience client and court interaction at each point.

Area of LawCriminal, Family, Immigration
Program StartSummer
Length of Program and CreditsSummer (7 cr) + 2 semesters (3 cr, 3 cr)
Number of Positions18-22 Classes Eligible2L & 3L
PrerequisitesCriminal Procedure recommended

Legal Assistance to Institutionalized Persons (LAIP) Homepage

Mediation Clinic

After intensive basic mediation training, students in this clinic begin co-mediating cases in Dane County Small Claims Court under the clinic director’s supervision. Students work on the front line, supporting good communication and collaboration between disputing parties. After each session, student mediators debrief the mediation sessions with their fellow students and supervisor.

Students in this rapidly growing area of study and practice gain practical skills with clients while also learning about mediation theory in a weekly seminar. At the end of the school year, students leave the clinic with an ability not only to mediate and represent their potential clients in future mediations but also to responsibly counsel their clients about the benefits and limitations of mediation and other dispute-resolution techniques.

Area of LawSmall Claims, Child Protection, Community
Program StartFall
Length of Program and CreditsFall (4 cr) + Spring (4 cr) semesters
Number of PositionsVaries Classes Eligible2L & 3L
PrerequisitesNone

Mediation Clinic Homepage

Neighborhood Law Clinic

Students in this community-based law clinic, located in the heart of Madison's South Side, provide individual representation to clients in landlord-tenant, public benefits, and wage and hour cases. Students’ legal work prevents families from becoming homeless and helps workers recover their unpaid wages. In addition, students work on community advocacy projects, including legislative and policy analysis, legal education and mobilization efforts.

The clinic provides a complex learning environment in which students develop lawyering skills and learn how to think critically about the role and limits of law as a force for justice and social change. Students engage in traditional litigation practice, using skills such as fact investigation, legal research, analysis, drafting, negotiation, counseling and trial work. Students also gain non-traditional lawyering skills through activities such as public speaking, drafting community education materials, and participating in local campaigns for social and economic justice.


Area of LawWage and hour, Landlord-tenant, Government benefits
Program StartSummer
Length of Program and CreditsSummer (7 cr) + 2 semesters (4 cr, 4 cr)
Number of Positions6 Classes Eligible2L & 3L
PrerequisitesNone

Neighborhood Law Clinic Homepage

Oxford Federal Project

Students assist inmates in federal correctional institutions with a wide variety of legal challenges. Under the supervision of an experienced supervising attorney, clinic students visit clients in prison; investigate and research their cases; and frequently correspond with clients, the U.S. Attorneys’ offices, and the U.S. Parole Commission, as well as with family members and witnesses. The Federal Appeals Project is a recent expansion of the Oxford Federal Project and offers students the opportunity to litigate federal criminal appeals assigned by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

On a regular basis, the students and their supervising attorney gather to grapple with the legal and ethical issues their cases raise. Oxford Federal Project and Federal Appeals Project students learn how to navigate through a complex legal system — taking on adversarial and collaborative roles — while advocating on behalf of their clients. Most students have opportunities to appear and advocate before judges, parole hearing examiners, immigration panels, or other decision-makers.


Area of LawCriminal, Family Law, Immigration
Program StartSummer
Length of Program and CreditsSummer (7 cr) + 2 semesters (2 cr, 2 cr)
Number of Positions6 Classes Eligible2L & 3L
PrerequisitesCriminal Procedure recommended

Oxford Federal Project Homepage

Prosecution Project

Students participating in the project spend a summer externing in a Wisconsin prosecutor’s office. Prior to the externship, students train intensively, preparing to learn and contribute to their trial level placement. The Wisconsin student practice rules provide law students who meet certain requirements with the opportunity to appear in court and contribute in their sponsor offices in many ways.

Students develop competency, craftsmanship and creativity in responding to the public safety challenges facing our communities. For more than 25 years, several Wisconsin district attorney offices have partnered with the Law School to sponsor our externs. These partnerships have provided both a challenging learning experience for law students and a helpful service to local communities.

Area of LawCriminal prosecution
Program StartSpring course, summer externship
Length of Program and CreditsSpring (3 cr sem + 2 cr trial advocacy), Summer externship, Fall (2 cr)
Number of Positions23 Classes Eligible2L Only
PrerequisitesCriminal Procedure; L&CP Prosecution Function

Prosecution Project Homepage

Public Defender Project

Students spend a summer externing in State Public Defender offices, with placements available all over Wisconsin. Externs begin their training in the classroom, but it is their work “in the trenches” that provides the real education.

Students handle all aspects of clients’ cases, from initial appearance through trial. In addition to defending clients in criminal matters, our students also provide representation in revocations, civil commitments regarding mental health, and juvenile proceedings.

Area of LawCriminal defense
Program StartSpring course, summer externship
Length of Program and CreditsSpring (3 cr sem + 2 cr trial advocacy), Summer externship, Fall (2 cr)
Number of Positions12-14 Classes Eligible2L Only
PrerequisitesCriminal Procedure and Evidence (both can be taken in Spring sem.); L&CP Defense Function

Public Defender Project Homepage

Restorative Justice Project

Students in this clinic use restorative practices in various settings from prisons to schools and the community. They work on victim-initiated dialogue requests with offenders, typically involving sensitive crimes and crimes of severe violence. Under the supervision of the project director, students help guide victim/survivors and offenders through the intensive preparation process that culminates in one or more face-to-face meetings. This restorative process brings together victims and their offenders in order to find answers to a victim's questions or to seek an understanding that reaches beyond the crime itself, often with a profound positive impact on the lives of the people involved. Throughout this intensive process, students cultivate and hone their mediation and interviewing skills and gain valuable insight into listening and managing conflict in difficult situations.

In addition to prison-based programming, students have the opportunity to address conflict and harm in neighborhoods and schools. By utilizing restorative practices, students provide positive alternatives to the criminal justice system and foster community. Restorative justice acknowledges the depth and breadth of the harm caused by crime and violence, while seeking ways to address and repair it. Students take on leadership roles in project areas that they are interested in, working with community groups, nonprofit organizations, and schools to respond to crime, violence and other complex issues.


Area of LawVictim-offender dialogues, Mediation, Community conferencing/alternatives to prosecution, Youth courts, Prison programs
Program StartSummer
Length of Program and CreditsSummer (7 cr) + 2 semesters (3-4 cr. preferred each semester)
Number of Positions6 Classes Eligible2L & 3L
Prerequisites

Restorative Justice Project Homepage

Wisconsin Innocence Project

Law students in the Wisconsin Innocence Project have worked to free more than 20 people, relying on DNA technology, changes in forensic science, and on old-fashioned investigation to uncover the truth. The project seeks to exonerate the innocent, educate students and reform the criminal justice system by identifying and remedying the causes of wrongful convictions.

Students investigate actual innocence claims by searching for newly discovered evidence or evidence that was unknown at the time of trial. Untested physical evidence, changes in scientific knowledge, or a recantation can all form the basis to support a claim of actual innocence. When the new evidence is strong enough, students work to litigate the claims in court. Through their work on these cases, the students learn about the operation of the criminal justice system and how our system can sometimes go awry. In proving innocence years after a conviction, the students gain insight into how a wrongful conviction can occur and how it might have been prevented. By participating in this project, students work to give wrongly convicted persons, giving them their lives and freedom back after years of unjust incarceration.

Area of LawCriminal, Appellate advocacy
Program StartSummer
Length of Program and CreditsSummer (7 cr) + 2 semesters (7 cr, 3 cr)
Number of Positions18 anticipated Classes Eligible2L & 3L
PrerequisitesCriminal Procedure recommended

Wisconsin Innocence Project Homepage


Frequently Asked Questions


Who can enroll in clinical programs, and when?

Clinical programs are available to students in their second and third years of law school. Some programs, such as LAIP, target students who are entering the summer after their first year. Other programs, such as the Lawyering Skills Course, focus on third-year students. The clinics vary in their timing and duration. Some require only a one-semester commitment. Others require a fall-spring commitment or full-year commitment. Still others are available as stand-alone summer programs. Finally, clinics may require a prerequisite course (such as Evidence) before students can enroll, and most require that students take a classroom component, as well as a clinical component, during the clinical experience.

How do students enroll in clinical programs?

Most clinics are "consent of instructor" courses; that is, they do not have open enrollment, but instead require students to apply and be accepted into the clinic. The clinics provide information on how to apply at information sessions that occur on several occasions in the fall semester. In addition, the contact persons listed on the clinic Web pages will provide information on how to apply.

Where do students work if they are enrolled in clinical programs?

That depends on the program. All of the Law School's live-client clinics are housed in the Law School, and the students do the bulk of their work in the clinic offices. But they may travel to meet clients outside of Madison (e.g. LAIP clients are incarcerated around Wisconsin), or in Madison (e.g. the Neighborhood Law Clinic maintains offices on the south side of Madison, where students staff office hours). Students enrolled in externship programs will work in offices all around Wisconsin.

Are students enrolled in clinics able to appear in court?

Student activities in law school clinical programs are governed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Under SCR 50, students who have earned 45 credits can appear in court on behalf of clients, as long as they are accompanied by a supervising attorney.

How many credits do students receive for their clinical work? Is it graded?

For the clinical component of their experience, Law School Rule 3.14(5) requires a student to perform a minimum of 45 hours of work per semester per credit (assuming a 15-week semester, that comes out to a minimum of 4 hours per credit per week). Thus, the number of credits will vary, depending on how many hours of work a given clinical program requires for enrollment. Most students enroll for 7 credits during the summer which corresponds to full-time (40 hours per week) for the 12 week session. The clinical work is generally graded as Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. The classroom component of the students' experience will generally involve 1-3 credits, and can be graded on a Satisfactory-Unsatisfactory, or letter-grade basis.

Do clinical course credits apply toward Law School graduation requirements?

Yes. All credits earned in clinics, whether for the clinical or classroom component of the students' work, apply toward the 90 credits required for graduation. In addition, a maximum of five clinical credits may be applied toward the 60-credit diploma privilege requirement. Separate from the clinical component, the classroom component of many clinical programs may apply toward the 60-credit rule. Students should contact the instructor(s) of each clinic they are interested in, to determine the exact title of classroom courses that accompany the clinical work.

Is funding or tuition remission available for clinical experiences?

UW Law School endeavors to make experiential learning opportunities accessible for as many students as possible. To the extent that funds are available, the Law School offers tuition remission and modest living allowance for students participating in full-time summer clinical experiences. Tuition remission for summer clinics means that students can earn credits during the summer semester without having to pay tuition, but they are required to pay nominal student segregation fees. During the recruitment and application period each fall, students will be provided with specific details about funding and tuition remission. Additionally, several clinical and externship experiences offer nominal stipends during the summer and school year, but require students to pay tuition.

Can students create their own Clinical Program?

Clinical courses are governed by Law School Rule 3.14. Students are not free to "construct their own" clinical program or receive academic credit for any internship or externship that has not been approved by the Law School. However, students can seek to have a potential externship opportunity approved by the Law School and, if accepted, receive appropriate academic credit. If interested, contact Externship Director Jane Heymann, Room 5103.

Apply

The Law School’s summer clinics use the Symplicity system for applying for clinic positions. The Symplicity system includes the Student Job Board and is used for On Campus Interviewing (OCI) during the second and third years of law school.

  • To access this system, click the following link:
    https://law-wisc-csm.symplicity.com/students/
  • Once logged into Symplicity, click the OCI tab near the top of the page.
  • On the main OCI page, select the clinic session.
  • From there, you will be able to review the various clinics and their application requirements.

The application session begins November 3, 2014. You are strongly encouraged to apply to several clinics. To apply, submit the universal application to each clinic you have selected. Make sure to rank the clinics in order of preference. 

Applications for Summer 2015 and the following 2014-15 school year are due Wednesday, November 26, 2014, by 5 p.m. There will be no exceptions. 
Some clinics will ask for additional materials, such as a video interview or a written solution to a problem. In addition, clinics that require in person interviews will conduct them in early December, with precise dates listed in the individual clinic’s Symplicity page. Following interviews and review of student applications, clinics will notify students with offers between the end of the exam period and the end of January.



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