Offered in conjunction with the Legal Aid Justice Center, the clinic teaches and develops trial skills (including trial exercises) using housing law as the substantive background, and students also appear and argue in local courts.
The clinic includes both a one-semester seminar to teach basic substantive housing law and yearlong supervised client representation in housing-related cases and matters. The caseload includes trials, administrative proceedings and interaction with low-income clients. Students handle eviction cases, rent escrow cases, grievance hearings, abatement of substandard building conditions and other enforcement of residents' rights. Under the supervision of an attorney, students perform all the lawyer functions associated with their cases, including client and witness interviews, factual development, legal research, preparation of pleadings and negotiation. Issues arise under private landlord-tenant contracts, federally subsidized rental programs and anti-discrimination statutes such as the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Third-year students who have completed a course in criminal law, professional ethics, evidence and procedure are eligible to appear and argue in court like a member of the bar. That course work can be already completed or finished in the fall semester. Non-qualifying students, including 2Ls, may conduct negotiations, assist with factual and legal case development, sit second chair, and, in most years get to argue an administrative hearing.