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Program Description

The University’s clinical curriculum is what many would consider a model program. To improve the quality of educational experience provided, USC has long been committed to a client-contact clinical program taught by experienced, full-time faculty and located in the School of Law. Four members of the full-time faculty and one part-time instructor devote a substantial portion of their teaching energies to in-house clinical legal education. The client-contact clinical courses are structured to provide students not only with an opportunity to gain skills but with an opportunity for reflection upon their performances and the lawyer’s role in the legal system. To accomplish these goals, much of the teaching in clinical courses is done on a one-on-one basis. Faculty members observe or review all student work and provide detailed critiques. As a result, student demand for clinical courses is high, but enrollments must be kept low.

Clinical courses are currently offered in the areas of criminal practice, nonprofit law, juvenile justice, child protection advocacy and special education.

The upper-level curriculum also offers skills training for students in a wide range of simulation courses, including the traditional trial advocacy course. Also, professional skills courses are offered in the areas of Interviewing, Counseling and Negotiation course, a second and third year priority course so that skills education is available to a greater percentage of the student body.

The newest skills courses are Capstone courses. Offered to only third year, second semester students, these courses provide intense doctrine and skills based training and include seasoned attorneys from the community as instructors.

The Small Business Capstone course (5 credits) provides hands-on training in transactional practice based on start up and venture capital representation, and includes drafting Term Sheets, LLC Operating Agreements and Shareholder Agreements. The class includes simulation and in-class exercises as well as doctrinal classes. The Civil Litigation Capstone is also currently offered with a Commercial Real Estate Capstone beginning spring 2016.

Clinical Courses

LAWS 741 — 6 hours

The CHAMPS Clinic is a collaboration of the School of Law, the USC School of Medicine, Palmetto Health, Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group, and South Carolina Legal Services.  It will provide students with the opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary learning and community engagement in the context of live-client legal cases.  More specifically, students will take legal cases on behalf of low income families referred from Palmetto Health and Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group.  These cases will address the social-determinants of clients’ health.  The law students will work collaboratively on these legal cases with doctors, social workers and other health professionals.  In addition to case work, the course will have a seminar component during which students will learn the doctrine, theory, lawyering skills, and policy relevant to their case work.  The seminar will also provide the students opportunities to lead discussions about case-related issues and solicit feedback from colleagues on those issues.

LAWS 757 — 6 hours

The clinic will afford participating students an opportunity to gain first-hand, closely supervised training and experience in the representation of real clients and the practice of the arts/skills of litigation planning, client counseling, fact development, negotiation and courtroom advocacy. The vehicle for such training and experience is the planning, preparation and presentation of the legal defense in actual cases involving allegations of criminal conduct. All casework will be done under the supervision of a clinical professor. In addition to the cases there will be assigned readings, lectures, discussions, and demonstrations. Criminal Practice Clinic places emphasis on jury trial practice before the Municipal Court for the City of Columbia.

LAWS 752 — 6 hours

This course will train students to assume the role of lawyer and introduce them to domestic violence law. Through classroom discussion, simulations, assigned readings, and fieldwork, the course will cover central concepts of laws governing emergency orders of protection and affirmative domestic violence-related immigration remedies, such as U Visas, VAWA Self-Petitions, and Battered Spouse Waivers, and give students an opportunity to apply their knowledge by representing clients seeking these forms of relief. Students will have an oppoortunity to develop legal skills, including: interviewing and counseling clients; fact investigation; legal research, writing and analysis; case strategy; negotiations; and courtroom advocacy, as well as professional and life skills related to legal practice. The course will also give students an opportunity to consider the broader context of their individual cases through class discussion and community-based projects, which may include know-your-rights presentations, limited advice and assistance clinics, and policy research.

LAWS 751 — 6 hours

The clinic helps special-needs children and their families get access to equal educational opportunity, handling legal issues ranging from disability eligibility and entitlement to services, to developing adequate Individualized Education Programs and discipline matters.  Law students will begin to develop a variety of legal skills including: interviewing clients, fact investigation, legal research and analysis, case strategy, negotiations, as well as participate in mediation and possibly litigation proceedings.

LAWS 805 — 6 hours

Through this clinic, students will provide transactional and advisory legal services to entities whose activities focus on sustainable development, and who would not otherwise be able to hire counsel.  These entities (potentially to include non-profit organizations, local governments, public agencies, and others) may work on ecological conservation, agriculture and food access, land use resilience, or other areas.  Students will interview clients, conduct needed legal research and writing, advise clients, and provide services in a variety of legal subject areas, likely to include administrative law, environmental law, property law, land use law, and non-profit organizations law.  Students may draft and review legal instruments such as conservation easements, examine property title issues, review and advise on organizational documents, and research and advise on legal tools available for resilience initiatives.  Through a seminar component and case rounds in addition to hands-on work, students will gain a more sophisticated understanding of the concepts of sustainability and resilience, attorney ethics and professional rules of practice, and other issues faced by land use lawyers, including interdisciplinary matters and policy questions.

LAWS 772 — 6 hours

The clinic will afford participating students an opportunity to gain first-hand, closely supervised training and experience in the representation of real clients and the practice of the arts/skills of litigation planning, client counseling, fact development, negotiating, and courtroom advocacy. The vehicle for such training and experience is the planning, preparation and presentation of the legal defense of juveniles in cases involving allegations of delinquent (i.e. criminal) conduct, including pre-trial issues, guilt or innocence, and disposition (i.e. sentencing) advocacy. All casework will be done under the supervision of a clinical professor.

LAWS 716 — 6 hours

This clinic provides legal assistance to nonprofit organizations of all types addressing the various needs of the community. Because many of these organizations lack the financial resources to retain private legal counsel, students provide legal assistance in transactional matters that include incorporation, preparation of by-laws, preparation and filing of 501(c)(3) applications, contract review and negotiation, real estate, intellectual property and land use issues. Students may attend board meetings, provide legal assistance to start up organizations or organizations that are merging, converting or spinning off new ventures. The nature of the clinic allows for experience touching many different legal disciplines and helps provide for the stabilization of these organizations so that they can better serve the community.

LAWS 830 — 6 hours

This clinic offers services to any indigent veteran facing legal issues on credit and related financial matters, housing issues, government benefits, and family law issues.  Students enrolled in the clinic will work to protect the rights of veterans and their families, while learning valuable skills including client interviewing, fact investigation, working with experts, and litigation.  Learn more 

Skills Courses

  • Advanced Trial Advocacy (LAWS 754) 2 hours (Description)
  • Interviewing, Counseling and Negotiation (LAWS 771) 3 hours (Description)
  • Small Business Organization Capstone (LAWS 561) 5 hours (Description)
  • Trial Advocacy (LAWS 679) 2 hours (Description)

 


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