Clinical legal education provides students the opportunity to learn legal theory and practice while providing much-needed legal assistance to under-represented individuals and organizations. Students represent clients with a wide range of legal problems and handle litigation, transactional and policy matters from beginning to end.
Clinical offerings are sufficiently broad to allow students to work in a variety of legal areas and enhance a number of skills: civil rights, consumer, juvenile defense, community development, domestic violence, housing, human rights, family, immigration and policy work with legislators and non-governmental organizations.
Developing Practical Skills
In the course of assisting their clients, students learn fact-finding, analytical, and rhetorical skills as part of their practical experiences. Clinical legal work also deepens student appreciation and understanding of legal theory and doctrine. Students experience, first hand, the challenges of professional ethics. They learn to solve problems, make judgments, exercise decisions, and accept responsibility for matters that are of great importance to their clients. They learn to develop systems that facilitate the competent discharge of their responsibilities as lawyers.
How Students Work
Clinic students work collaboratively with other students and law faculty who teach in the clinic and provide rigorous supervision at each phase of their clinical experience. They have the opportunity to reflect on the practice of law, to consider how to balance the demands of the clinic with other law school and personal commitments, and to develop the foundation for a meaningful professional life. Their law school education is greatly enhanced by the bonds they develop with their clients, and the knowledge they gain about the relationship between law and social justice. For many students, clinical legal education is the most meaningful experience during law school.
Clinic students' contributions to the client and legal community increase access to justice, and are an important part of the public service mission of UNC School of Law.