Civil Rights Clinic (YR)

Section 1, Fall 19

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 8/8
Credits: 4

Course Description

In this yearlong clinical course clinic students will work on cases that have the potential to provide real and concrete relief and legal support to people and communities that have been harmed by the criminalization of poverty and other forms of discrimination or deprivation of rights. While there has been for some time a robust national conversation regarding the intersection of race and poverty and the resultant inequities in communities of color across systems from criminal justice to housing, education, and healthcare, even more exciting is the local conversation about these issues happening in Charlottesville and across Virginia. The Clinic will capitalize on the work of the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Civil Rights & Racial Justice Program, by tapping into the legal and organizing networks already working to address these inequities at the local and state levels, and expanding that work in ways that will have a national as well as generational impact. Clinic students will provide direct representation to individual and/or organizational clients as well as participate in impact advocacy, including: complex litigation in federal court, legal support for community education and organizing, administrative advocacy, and legislative and policy advocacy. The Clinic will meet as a group at LAJC’s office (1000 Preston Avenue, Suite A) during the scheduled course time for seminar. Weekly sessions will incorporate substantive overview of the areas of law and legal issues related to challenging the criminalization of poverty, case/campaign rounds, and small group work with supervisors. Individual or team-based supervision on clinic work will be provided throughout the week, including via video and/or phone conferencing with supervisors. Topics for the seminar portion could include professional responsibility for public interest lawyers; civil rights litigation under section 1983; community lawyering; skills-based sessions on client interviewing, drafting and litigating Freedom of Information Act requests or discovery in complex civil litigation; and hot topics drawn from current national efforts to decriminalize poverty in communities of color, such as challenges to debtors’ prison, police misconduct, wealth-based pretrial detention, criminalization of mental health needs, and discriminatory use of criminal background checks.

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: Assignments will consist of written work product that will range from memoranda on client/community member interviews; legal research memos; policy & advocacy briefs; Freedom of Information Act requests; to formal pleadings and other court filings.

Other Work
Students will engage in an ongoing feedback process with instructors over the course of the clinical program including a formal, written evaluation that will allow students to self-evaluate their progress over the course of the program, evaluate the clinic instructors, and receive concrete assessments of their development and growth from the instructors based on assignments.

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: There are no required course prerequisites, but these are recommended: Constitutional Criminal Procedure; Trial Advocacy; Federal Courts; Civil Rights Litigation. Because the credits in this course count toward the JD Program Professional Skills requirement, JD candidates will be given enrollment priority for this class. Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: Yes
Course Notes: Application to the clinic is required (consisting of answers to 3-4 questions and a resume). Students will be selected based on their written application. Clinic students will be spending considerable time outside of the classroom for things like client meetings, court observation, court file retrieval, community advocacy/outreach, meetings with your supervisor to review drafts and final versions of written work. Some work may require occasional, same-day travel to other areas of Virginia. IMPORTANT: All clinic participants must attend one of two “Orientation to Law Clinics at LAJC” sessions at the start of the semester. These sessions will provide clinic participants with necessary information about working with LAJC and its client community. One session will be held on Tuesday, August 27, 10:00 a.m.– 2:30 p.m. The other session will be held on Friday, August 30, 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Both sessions will be held at the law school. Attendance at one or the other session is mandatory, unless a clinic participant has a non-negotiable conflict that prevents attendance at either session and the student obtains permission for the absence. Clinic participants seeking an excusal must request it in writing by e-mailing Amy Walters ( by Sunday, August 25. CREDITS: Of the eight credits awarded for this clinic, four credits will be allocated to the fall semester and four credits to the spring semester for academic load purposes. Grading will occur at the end of the spring semester, and four of the credits will be pass/fail and four of the credits will be graded.

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
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens:
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: