There is no better way to develop your identity as a lawyer than by handling real cases for real clients. For this reason, Delaware Law’s legal clinics provide an opportunity for Juris Doctor (JD) candidates to practice what they’ve learned in the classroom under the guidance and mentorship of experienced legal professionals. Through Delaware Law’s legal clinics, you will build the professional skills and confidence you need for your future.
Created in 1984, this live client clinic exemplifies Delaware Law’s mission of being civically engaged in the Delaware community while presenting opportunities for our JD candidates to gain practical experience.
JD candidates provide pro bono legal services primarily to survivors of domestic violence who live below the poverty line and are seeking civil orders of protection against abuse. Students may also handle cases involving child custody and visitation; assist the elderly and terminally ill; and serve individuals who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford legal counsel. In the process, JD candidates learn to manage a caseload while interviewing and counseling their clients, conducting investigations, preparing documents, and practicing negotiation and trial advocacy skills.
Since its opening in 1995, this criminal law legal clinic has presented JD candidates with the opportunity to represent indigent individuals accused of misdemeanor crimes before state courts in Chester County, Pennsylvania. In the process, students handle cases from the preliminary hearing stage through the trial and may further assist in post-conviction representation.
Students interested in defending the environment work with the clinic director and other attorneys to represent not-for-profit organizations and individuals seeking to protect the environment in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Learning and practicing their legal skills in a real-world setting, JD candidates participate in a broad spectrum of cases involving violations of environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, and other key pieces of legislation. In the process, students discuss and prepare strategies, pursue appeals, draft public comments, negotiate agreements, and help citizens represent themselves.
The first of its kind in the United States, Delaware Law’s pro bono Veterans Law Clinic was founded in 1997 and then expanded to become the resource it is today.
JD candidates take on the claims of low-income and disabled veterans and their dependents to appeal an adverse Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) decision. In the process, students evaluate each case, gather evidence, and represent veterans or their dependents in court. JD candidates typically take on claims concerning benefits and discharge upgrades and assist with veterans’ wills and estate documents.
The Innocence Delaware Legal Clinic partners with nonprofit organization Innocence Delaware, which provides representation to people unjustly incarcerated in the state for crimes they did not commit.
Students assist Innocence Delaware in their mission by screening cases for representation, learning post-conviction law, and practicing innocence work, such as interviewing clients, conducting investigations, doing legal research, and preparing legal pleadings.
The Dignity Rights Client (DRC) is the Law School’s newest clinic and the first law school clinic in the world dedicated to advancing human dignity under law: the right of every person, everywhere, to be respected "as a person." The Clinic provides legal services to clients in non-representational matters to help shape law’s commitment to the equal, inherent, and inalienable worth of every member of the human family. Clinic students will engage in cutting-edge work for clients involving such rights as freedom of conscience and rights to political participation, rights to equality and equal treatment, rights to live with dignity, and rights to express one’s own identity and have agency over one’s own life course under domestic, foreign, regional, and international human rights law.
Practical experience plays an important role in the search for your first legal job. Law clinics present a unique opportunity for JD candidates to put the knowledge they’ve gained in the classroom into action before they graduate, while learning from seasoned attorneys, making court appearances, and building their professional networks.
Law clinics benefit all JD candidates, regardless of whether they envision a career in the courtroom or elsewhere. No matter your career goals, there is no better way to develop your identity as a lawyer than by working on real cases for real clients. In a law clinic, students do everything a practicing attorney does, including working with clients, representing them in a courtroom, gathering evidence, drafting documents, managing caseloads, and managing client expectations, all under the guidance of experienced attorneys. Whether focused on civil or criminal law, each Delaware Law clinic provides a first-hand perspective of how the law works in the real world and an opportunity to develop practice skills that are essential for any successful legal career. Oftentimes, students are representing those who don’t have the resources to pay for legal representation themselves; however, representing clients through the law clinics is much more than volunteer work.
Students earn academic credits for hours spent in a law clinic that count toward the experiential credit requirement of our JD curriculum. Because a certain amount of classroom knowledge is required to participate, law clinics are designed for upper level students. But it’s never too early to start thinking about your future at Delaware Law. Review the requirements for all of Delaware Law’s legal clinics and experiential opportunities.
Current students who meet the requirements and are interested in participating may complete an online application to register.
To learn more about any of our clinical programs, contact our Director of Experiential Education, Director of Judicial Externship Program, and Associate Professor, Francis Catania.