The Catholic University of America

 D.C. Law Students in Court

Columbus Community Legal Services
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D.C. Law Students in Court

"Real world" experience is easily obtained by law students participating in D.C. Law Students in Court. This year-long clinical program allows students to learn litigation skills while representing indigent clients in D.C. Superior Court. Students may choose between the civil and criminal divisions of the program whose office is located just a few blocks from the courthouse. This clinic provides the unique opportunity to work with students from four other area law schools that also participate in Law Students in Court.

Both civil and criminal divisions conduct a weekly, two-hour long seminar on trial advocacy skills with occasional guest speakers from the legal field. These seminars are similar to trial practice classes in that evidence and trial practice strategy are the focus, and mock trials are performed.

Civil Division

Students in the Civil Division practice primarily in the landlord-tenant and small claims branches of the Superior Court. In landlord-tenant court, students represent clients in the defense of actions brought by landlords and in counterclaims by tenants to obtain heat, electricity, water and other fundamental services that are not being provided by the landlord. In small-claims court, students represent clients in civil cases such as automobile negligence and contract disputes. In both courts, students handle the cases from initial interview through pleading, discovery, investigation, motions, and trial, if necessary. Supervision is provided by four experienced staff attorneys. Students also learn the skills of mediation and negotiation and settling cases before trial.

Criminal Division

Students in the criminal division defend indigent adults and minors charged with misdemeanor crimes such as assault, theft, or drug and weapons possession. The cases frequently involve issues concerning the legality of searches and seizures, identification procedures, or confessions. They also may involve the defenses of insufficient evidence, mistaken identity, alibi, entrapment, or self-defense. In addition to learning investigative and trial techniques, students learn about alternatives to incarceration and creative approaches to sentencing.