The Michigan Clinical Law Program (MCLP) is a seven-credit course that gives students the opportunity to practice law, under the supervision of a clinical professor, in a variety of issue areas affecting low-income clients. Casework - from interviewing and counseling clients to arguing in court - is the principal responsibility of MCLP students. There is also a classroom component of the clinic, which is designed to give students the chance to reflect on their practice, study common themes among cases and clients, and to learn lawyering skills. The clinic has cases in many areas of law, including: landlord-tenant, consumer, domestic violence and/or family, welfare, criminal, employment discrimination, asylum and refugee issues, and prisoners' civil rights. Students, under the supervision of faculty, do all of the work for their clients, including interviewing, counseling, research, discovery, negotiation, motion practice, bench and jury trials, and appeals. They have "first-chair" responsibility for their cases and primary responsibility for representing their clients. MCLP students handle cases in the state district, circuit, probate, and federal courts, as well as administrative and informal venues. The classroom component includes some trial advocacy simulations to introduce basic trial skills. Each student participates in two intensive trial practice experiences: a mock adversarial hearing at mid-term and a mock trial at the end of the term. Other class sessions address topics including the role of the lawyer, ethical issues on law practice, client-centered lawyering, the adversarial process, and other related issues affecting the clinic's predominately poor client population. Some MCLP students will have the opportunity to specialize in cases focusing on the legal issues of women in poverty, in conjunction with the clinic's collaboration with the Michigan Poverty law program (MPLP). MPLP is a multi-lawyer legal services office that provides state-wide training and litigation support for legal services field offices throughout Michigan. These students will handle individual cases, primarily in the areas of domestic violence, family law (custody, child support, visitation, divorce), and government benefits. In addition to individual cases, these students may work on more complex cases or projects that have a statewide impact on poor people in Michigan. Students must enroll for the 4-credit clinic and the 3-credit seminar, taken concurrently. Third-year students do not have a preference for admission to Clinical Law I. Student preferences will be taken into account in registration, but students are not guaranteed their first choice.
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