CSU|LAW’s clinic programs engage students in actual legal practice, putting what they learn in the classroom to work in the service of real clients with real legal problems. Under the close supervision of experienced attorneys, students serve the community and learn lawyering skills by practicing law. Students have made countless lives better while learning practical lawyering skills and tactics, professionalism and ethics. Whether or not a student intends to practice public interest law, the clinics allow them to participate in a case from intake to resolution with full mentoring by clinic professors. Third- and fourth-year students may be able to represent clients in court under the supervision of a clinical law professor.
In addition to the clinics, CSU|LAW gives students the opportunity to complete Pop-Up Practicums, short-term practical legal work in an area important to them. Sometimes faculty initiate these practicums in areas of their research, but students can also propose practicums in other areas.
The Appellate Practice Clinic engages students in representing underprivileged communities - such as persons afflicted with homelessness, immigrants, LGBTQ members, and others - before state and federal appeals courts. Students learn how to perfect an appeal, author a brief, and present oral argument. The Appellate Clinic represents clients primarily before Ohio's Eighth District Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.
Students represent clients in a wide range of cases before courts and administrative agencies in many substantive areas, including:
- Civil Rights including First Amendment and Equal Protection Cases
- Employment and Employment Discrimination
- Wage and hour disputes
- Unemployment compensation
- Fair housing and landlord tenant
- Consumer concerns
- Breach of contract
- Civil Stalking Protection Orders
- Ex-Offender Reentry
Students assist our community’s most vulnerable populations in the following areas of law:
- Public benefits
- Name change
- Child support
- Consumer advocacy
- Community development
- LBGTQ advocacy
- Human trafficking
Students in the Pardon, Clemency and Reentry Clinic, under the Supervision of the Director, will represent individual clients seeking pardon or clemency from the Ohio governor, represent individuals seeking expungement of prior convictions, and/or assist in petitions for other post-conviction relief. They will engage in each phase of representation, from client interviews, to determining case strategies, to drafting motions, petitions, and applications before various municipal and county venues.
The Pretrial Justice Clinic provides students with the opportunity to fill a critical need in the criminal justice system – advocating for indigent defendants during the initial bail process. Poverty presents many challenges in the criminal justice system, and a money-based bail system increases those challenges on the first day anyone appears in court. Students in the Clinic working with the Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office provide critical courtroom advocacy for indigent defendants as their cases work their way from Municipal Court to the Court of Common Pleas. Client interviews, risk assessment analysis, strategy development, and memoranda and brief writing are the main lawyering skills developed in the Clinic.
Students on the same types of problems as business attorneys, helping to provide advice and services in:
- Corporate governance
- Environmental law
- Real estate
- Corporate policies
- Compliance with federal and state laws
- Entity selection and formation
- Estate planning and probate
- Intellectual property
- Minimizing risk through advise on institutional policies and practices
- Contract drafting
- Intellectual property advice and filings
Students in the Wrongful Conviction Clinic, under the supervision of the Director, investigate actual claims of wrongful conviction. Students learn how to identify, analyze, and develop a wrongful conviction case, which can include corresponding and meeting with clients, reviewing case materials and transcripts, identifying and interviewing witnesses, developing an investigative and legal strategy for advancing the client’s case, researching and drafting complaints and briefs, assisting in court proceedings, and, eventually, assisting the client in transitioning from wrongful imprisonment to freedom.
Recent student practicum experiences include:
- The federal and state permitting process for the Icebreaker Wind Project—North America’s first freshwater offshore wind project,
- Working with Dean Lee Fisher in his capacity as a member of the Cleveland Police Commission, authorized under the Federal Consent Decree between the City of Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice.
- Assisting Prof. Jonathan Witmer-Rich in the Revision of the Ohio Criminal Rules, and the Cuyahoga County Bail Task Force.
CSU|LAW students as a collective typically clock 11,000 volunteer hours throughout the city each year in a variety of community service projects, some of which include assisting with drivers license reinstatement, child support issues, Legal Aid Free Advice Clinics, the IRS-Certified Volunteer Tax Preparer Project, working with homeless shelters, and more.