Academics: Professional Training

 
Clinic co-director Josh Wheeler and clinic participant Tiffany Rainbolt discuss the First Amendment Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Law.

First Amendment Clinic

Adjunct Professors Bruce Brown and josh Wheeler; 7 Credits

This yearlong clinic is conducted in conjunction with the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression and the D.C. office of the national law firm Baker Hostetler. The First Amendment Clinic offers law students the opportunity to gain practical legal experience involving timely free speech and press issues.

Supervised by the legal staff of the Thomas Jefferson Center and attorneys from Baker Hostetler, students work as a team in conducting legal research, meeting with clients and co-counsel, and drafting legal memoranda and briefs. Assignments involve both appellate-level and trial-level litigation, but more frequently the former including the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the controversial Supreme Court case involving the First Amendment rights of funeral protesters, clinic students researched and drafted an amicus curiae brief as well as prepared counsel for oral argument. In 2012, the clinic represented a reporter in D.C. federal trial court involving media and public access to judicial reports. Students also take on a variety of non-litigation but real-world projects. Such projects have included reviewing proposed municipal ordinances for potential First Amendment flaws, preparing FOIA requests, and drafting a handbook for the American Bar Association detailing media rights of access to the courtroom. During the fall semester, a series of readings in First Amendment and media law corresponding to the clinic’s docket are assigned to provide students with an intellectual and jurisprudential framework for their clinical work.

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