First Amendment Clinic (YR)

Section 1, Fall 22

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 6/10
Credits: 4
Days* Time Room Start Date End Date
  • F
  • 1230-1420
  • WB127
09/02/2022 12/02/2022
*“R” means Thursday

Course Description

The clinic will be administered by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a Washington, D.C.-based national non-profit that provides pro bono legal services to journalists and news organizations. The clinic will represent the continuing legacy of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression and its founding director, UVA law professor and sixth president Bob O’Neil. Working closely with RCFP attorneys, students will acquire extensive hands-on experience in direct litigation, client counseling, amicus brief writing, and policy advocacy in a range of matters related to press freedom and the First Amendment. The clinic will continue to represent both journalists and private citizens in a variety of core First Amendment cases, which have included defamation matters and public information access rights. Seminar discussions will often focus on emerging issues in the field, such as the impact of technology on confidential source protections, international online content regulation, or how hacking laws impact data journalists. Students will be expected to attend a weekly class, which will include substantive instruction in First Amendment law as well as case discussion and clinical supervision. Students will also be expected to attend a two-day “boot camp” over a weekend early in the year, which will provide a survey of First Amendment law to allow students to immediately start work on clinical matters. Guest speakers from civil society, government, and the media will frequently present to the clinic, and students will be invited to visit RCFP’s offices in Washington to observe and participate in RCFP’s work.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Final Type (if any): None
Description: None

Written Work Product
Written Work Product: Students will be expected to complete periodic written assignments in advance of the classroom sessions modeled on the legal and policy work product that practicing First Amendment lawyers often prepare (such as legal memos, administrative comments, public education material like an op-ed or a one-page “leave behind,” and talking points). The rest of student assignments will be directly responsive to clinic matters, such as motion practice and briefing, and research and writing for amicus assignments.

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: 2L or 3L JD status; Because the credits in this course count toward the JD Program Professional Skills requirement, JD candidates will be given enrollment priority for this class. Constitutional Law II: Freedom of Speech and Press is recommended but not required. The weekend session at the beginning of the year will provide students a survey of First Amendment law. Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: Yes
Course Resources: To be announced.
Course Notes: Students will be expected to attend a two-day “boot camp” early in the fall term (six hours both Saturday and Sunday, dates to be announced) with assigned readings, which will provide a survey of First Amendment law to allow students to immediately start work on clinical matters. NOTE REGARDING CREDITS: Of the eight credits awarded for this clinic, four will receive a Credit (CR) or No Credit (NC) grade at the conclusion of the fall semester, and four will receive a grade of Honors (H), Pass (P) or Fail (F) at the conclusion of the spring semester. In accordance with Academic Policy, CR, NC, H, P, and F grades do not earn grading points, so they do not contribute to a student's grade point average (GPA).

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: Yes
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*If “Yes,” then students are required to submit a substantial research paper in this course, which means students do not need to submit any form to SRO for this paper to meet their upper-level writing requirement. If “No,” then students must submit a “special request” e-form to SRO (available via LawWeb) no later than five weeks after the start of the term for a paper in this class to be counted toward the upper-level writing requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Clinical (Excl.)
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens: Wednesday, November 30, 12:01 AM
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: Friday, December 09, 11:59 PM