First Amendment Clinic (YR)

Section 1, Fall 19

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 10/10
Credits: 4

Course Description

The First Amendment Clinic will relaunch as a year-long clinic during 2019-20. 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, chosen with an eye toward emerging issues in the field, such as the impact of technology on confidential source protections, international content regulation efforts that impact news organizations in the United States and overseas (examples include efforts to regulate incitement to hatred or to create a “right to be forgotten” online), 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:
Midterm Type (if any): None
Description: None

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


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 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: Students will receive a “credit/no credit” grade on the four credits of the fall semester and a letter grade at the conclusion of the spring semester on the remaining four.

Graduation Requirements

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

*Yes means professor requires everyone in the course to submit a substantial research paper (which is the requirement standard in Academic Policies), so no paperwork required to be submitted to SRO. No means student must timely submit paperwork to SRO if intending to use a paper in this course to satisfy the 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.

General Information

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
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Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: