What Kind of Work do LAIP Students do?
In the Frank J. Remington Center's Legal Assistance to Institutionalized Persons Project (LAIP), students work under the supervision of clinical faculty to provide legal assistance to state and federal prison inmates throughout Wisconsin. Each student visits one or more prisons and interviews inmates about their concerns. These may include a variety of issues such as family law problems, postconviction criminal law, sentence credit questions, and resolution of pending fines or charges. Students then research the facts and the law; talk to parties, prior attorneys, or opposing counsel; draft legal correspondence and pleadings; and may even appear in court on behalf of clients.
People in prison are affected, perhaps more than any other group in society, by the legal system. They frequently need legal services concerning their convictions or sentences, pending fines or charges, and related civil problems. In addition, prisons are better able to fulfill their missions if they have offenders who ought to be there, and who believe they have been treated fairly. An offender who leaves the institution at peace with the legal order will be more likely to adjust to life in society and avoid future crimes. For these reasons, we view the work of LAIP clinical faculty and students as a service not only to the individual clients, but also to the correctional system and society.
What Kinds of Educational Benefits do LAIP Students Receive?
LAIP provides an excellent "hands on" education which benefits law students regardless of whether they end up practicing criminal law. At LAIP, we do not define clinical education as "skills acquisition." Rather, the program's primary goal is to allow law students to experience and practice the highest degree of ethical, competent professionalism. Nevertheless, LAIP students do receive a variety of educational experiences, as our former students can attest.
Working with Clients
Each LAIP student meets and works with persons serving time in state prisons. As a result, each student personally observes and experiences the profound human consequences of an individual's involvement in the criminal justice system. The student is able to observe, from the offender's point of view, how incarceration affects the offender's ties with his or her family and community, as well as his or her opportunity for change and growth within the correctional system. This first-hand experience with a subculture that is most often forgotten or ignored in mainstream society is a powerful and memorable experience for many students who participate in LAIP.
LAIP students at the law school Learning Lawyering Skills and Values
LAIP allows students to develop lawyering skills which are not taught in traditional law school classes, or gained by working as a law clerk in a private law firm. Each LAIP student handles cases for a variety of inmates; and the student's experience may involve interviewing, legal research and writing, negotiating, legal counseling, and oral advocacy.
Developing a Sense of Professionalism
Finally, and most importantly, LAIP instills a sense of professionalism in students. Because LAIP students are given primary control over management of their cases, they learn how to handle work for real clients with professionalism, diligence, and thoroughness. The students carry this professionalism into practice, regardless of their field of law.
All of these educational benefits are enhanced for students by the opportunity to work closely and collaboratively with skilled, experienced clinical faculty. Grading in LAIP is pass-fail. However, students receive ongoing, individualized feedback on their written work and oral presentations from their clinical supervisors. Students also meet with their clinical supervisors for a final evaluation conference, which may include a detailed written evaluation of their overall performance.
When is LAIP offered to law students?
The LAIP project is available to all students who have successfully completed their first year of law school; no specific courses are required as a prerequisite. Most students enroll in the full-time LAIP summer session. However, as space allows, students may also be able to enroll part-time during the academic year.
For the LAIP summer session, students are chosen through a competitive application process that takes place during the fall semester. In the summer session, students begin their participation in the end of May and work full-time (at least forty hours/week) for twelve weeks. For the summer session, students receive seven Law School credits, a modest stipend, and a summer tuition remission.
In order to finish up their clients' cases, students enrolled in the LAIP summer session continue for a minimum of three credits during the following fall semester; and they are encouraged, but not required, to continue through the spring semester.
In addition to the full-time summer session, LAIP is offered as a part-time academic year project to second- and third-year law students, if space is available. These students may take LAIP, for a minimum of three credits, for one or two semesters.
For all students who are enrolled during the academic year, LAIP requires a minimum of four hours of clinical work per week for each credit earned.
Questions? Please contact Byron C. Lichstein, Interim Director of the Frank J. Remington Center, at 262-3764; or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.