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The Civil-Criminal Litigation Clinic gave me the opportunity to draft briefs and subpoenas, interview witnesses, and participate in court conferences. As a result, on my first day at Simpson Thacher, I had the confidence and experience to take on any assignment. Almost 10 years later, I still rely on the fundamental skills I learned in the clinic.

—Charlie Divine, '02, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

FAQs About the Clinic

What kind of legal work does the clinic do?

We handle many different kinds of court cases, but not everything. Our caseload might include landlord-tenant, consumer fraud, contract disputes, prisoners' civil rights, discrimination, political asylum, criminal misdemeanor defense, torts, habeas corpus, debt collection defense, insurance public benefits claims, etc. Clinic intake is not "open" -- it is based on our educational needs, the number of students and staff available, proximity to Ann Arbor, and our current docket of cases.

Who are the lawyers in the clinic?

Law students, supervised by faculty members who are experienced practicing lawyers. You can learn more about our faculty and staff on the Who We Are page.

Who are the clients that the clinic represents?

People who have a legal problem but cannot afford to hire a private lawyer.

Do the law students go to court?

Yes, the student lawyers take primary responsibility for representing the clients and do all the work on the cases, including courtroom appearances. Faculty supervisors work closely with the student lawyers every step of the way to ensure quality representation.

Can the students actually give good representation to clients?

Definitely. Judges and lawyers who see clinic students regularly comment that clinic clients are getting representation as good as or better than many "real" lawyers because of the time that the student lawyers and their faculty supervisors put into careful preparation.

What courts do clinic students go to?

Students have practiced in state or federal courts or agencies in Michigan, at both the trial and appellate levels. But, our focus is on trial-level cases close to Ann Arbor.

How do students get into the clinic?

Students in their second or third year of law school register for a seven-credit course and the law school's computerized registration system either admit them or puts them on a waitlist.

Does the clinic win most of the cases?

No lawyer wins every case. Most cases actually get settled without going to trial. The clinic's pattern of winning, losing, or settling is roughly the same as that of private lawyers handling similar cases.

Will the clinic keep clients' information confidential?

Of course. In fact, the student lawyers in the clinic are subject to the same ethical rules as all lawyers and the clinic has careful procedures to protect client information. Not even the dean of the Law School or the president of the University has access to information about clinic clients.

How many cases do the clinic students work on?

Usually, about five or six, but that can vary a lot depending on how complicated the cases are. The faculty supervisors monitor the workload constantly to make sure that student lawyers do not get overloaded.

How much does the clinic charge?

No client is required to pay any fee to the clinic for the legal work. Sometimes cases have some costs, like court filing fees, which clients are asked to pay if they are able. In a small number of cases, where the client receives an award of money, the client may be asked to pay a small percentage of the money to the clinic as a fee, which goes into the Law School's general fund. Neither the student lawyers nor the faculty supervisors take any compensation from clients, except a "thank you."