Law school law clinic provides over 16,000 hours of free assistance

Julia Bianco, Staff Reporter

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In the past year, the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law provided over 16,040 hours of pro bono assistance to members of the Cleveland community, while handling 141 cases.

The law clinic allows third-year law students to work as the primary legal counsel for clients who would not be able to afford legal representation without the clinic’s help.

The clinic has four major focus areas: the Civil Litigation Clinic, the Criminal Justice Clinic, the Community Development Clinic and the Health Law Clinic. The Civil Litigation Clinic deals with issues such as unfair debt collection and civil rights violations. The Criminal Justice Clinic, which provides the most intensive court experience, has students representing clients with misdemeanor felony charges. The Community Development Clinic helps nonprofit entities form businesses and deal with taxation issues, and the Health Law Clinic deals with disability claims and other health-related issues.

In addition, the clinic formed a new division last year, called the Intellectual Property Venture Clinic, which allows students to represent start-up companies. The program is expanding this year to become more interdisciplinary between business, science and law school graduate students.

Right now, about one-third of law students complete a clinic course during their time at the school. However, starting with the incoming class of Fall 2014, all students will be required to spend a semester at either an externship or a clinic.

“This graduation requirement is our faculty’s clearest signal of the importance of experiential education,” said Judith Lipton, co-director of the clinic. “It places the highest priority on giving all of our students the opportunity for an uninterrupted four to six months in supervised practice before graduation.”

This change in requirements represents the School of Law’s increasing commitment to having client-ready graduates, a core component of the new curriculum that was passed in May.