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SMU Dedman Law

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For more than 60 years the Civil Clinic has provided representation for low-income clients in Dallas area federal and state courts.  The Civil Clinic is a one-semester, five-credit graded course (four credits in the summer) taught by two full-time tenured faculty members.  With the assistance of two part-time supervisors, the clinic faculty supervise 18 students in each of the fall and spring semesters and up to eight students in the summer semester.  Additionally, each semester a limited number of students are permitted to enroll for a second clinic semester as “chief counsel” to provide continuity on complex active cases and to assist the new clinic students with routine matters. Students represent clients pursuant to the Student Practice Rules of the State Bar of Texas.  Students are closely supervised by a clinic faculty member and learn by practicing in all aspects of the lawyering process.  They conduct client and witness interviews, fact investigation, and legal research, and they advise and counsel their clients. Moreover, they conduct negotiations and mediations, engage in case planning, and written and oral discovery and also represent their clients sitting first chair in hearings and trials.

In addition to the casework, students participate in a twice-weekly classroom component.  Classes are team taught, and employ a variety of teaching methods using students’ cases as the primary vehicle to illustrate larger issues and to enable students to adopt a critical perspective on practice issues. Moreover, each clinic supervisor employs weekly one-on-one tutorials with students, and regular “firm meetings” are held by supervising attorneys with all students they supervise.  The tutorials and firm meetings enable students and faculty to work on case planning and strategy and provide the setting for students and faculty to explore in more detail the substantive and lawyering issues raised by students’ casework.

The Civil Clinic’s dockets contain cases in involving tenant advocacy, consumer litigation, civil rights, and other general litigation.