Employment Law

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Overall Description

The Employment Law Clinic provides students the opportunity to represent clients in employment cases filed in federal and state courts and agencies. Students participate at all stages of representation from client interviewing through settlement, trial and appeal. Clinic students receive instruction on various aspects of federal and state administrative and courtroom proceedings stemming from employment claims.

Students learn such representation skills as:

  • interviewing clients and witnesses
  • investigating facts
  • counseling
  • drafting pleadings
  • planning and conducting discovery
  • negotiation
  • trial practice
  • brief writing
  • oral argument

These are skills that will be utilized in whatever area of law you eventually become involved in, whether employment-related or not. The Clinic also teaches students the ability to recognize and to resolve issues of professional responsibility and legal ethics that arise within the context of their clients' cases.

As detailed below, the Clinic course has two components: student work on their cases, or casework; and a weekly seminar devoted to instruction and practice in litigation skills and the discussion of strategic and ethical issues concerning the cases.

Supervision of student work on cases and instruction in the Clinic's weekly seminar is primarily provided by Clinical Professor Kenneth Kowalski.

Practical experience:
an important step toward becoming a lawyer.

The Clinic offices, shared with the Transactional Law Clinic and the Community Health Advocacy Law Clinic, are located on the ground floor of the law school. Most student research can be done in the Clinic library, which contains treatises and other materials relevant to employment law and litigation, as well as on computer terminals providing access to LEXIS and WESTLAW. Digital video cameras and monitors are used to record student interviews of clients and performance on simulations for purposes of self evaluation as well as evaluation by the instructors.

The Course

The Employment Law Clinic is normally taken for two semesters. With special permission, students may enroll in a third semester of clinical work. A student can take the Clinic course for three, four or five credits per semester. The number of credit hours will determine the minimum amount of time a student will be required to spend working on cases. All students, without regard to the number of credit hours which they receive, attend the weekly Clinic seminar.

Priority for enrollment in the Clinic is reserved for students who have taken either Employment Discrimination Law or Employment Law. Students who are taking one of these courses concurrently, have taken other courses that relate to discrimination or civil rights law, or who have had some other relevant experience may enroll, depending on space.

Client Representation

The Clinic provides representation to individuals with all types of employment-related problems. For instance, Clinic students regularly represent clients in unemployment hearings. Students also advocate on behalf of clients with discrimination claims based on gender, race, religion, age, national origin, color, the exercise of First Amendment rights, protected immigration status, and physical or mental disability. In addition, we have represented individuals concerning other employment problems, such as unjust discharge, pension and benefit claims, overtime compensation, workers compensation retaliation and non-compete clauses in employment contracts.

In the assignment of cases, the Clinic instructors attempt to provide each student a balance, both in terms of cases involving different types of discrimination or other employment problems as well as cases that will involve different types of litigation skills. In this fashion, students each usually work on at least three cases in the Clinic. Also, each student has at least one new client interview, and usually more.

The Seminar

The Clinic class is divided into separate seminar sections: students in their first semester in the Clinic in one section and second and third semester students in the other. Ordinarily the students meet separately for the weekly seminar, though occasionally the two sections meet together.

The seminars are devoted to in depth discussion of the cases (including case evaluation, strategy, legal, factual and ethical issues); and instruction in litigation and lawyering skills, using assigned readings from the Clinic Manual (a collection of readings and sample agency and court documents), written assignments and simulations.

Registration and Further Information

To register for or learn more about the Employment Law Clinic, contact:

 
Ken Kowalski
Professor

LB 75

(216) 687-4825
 

 

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