Columbus Community Legal Services (CCLS) provides students an opportunity to engage in self-directed, hands-on learning, enhance their analytical rigor, navigate substantive law, and provide high quality services to individual clients and the community. Unlike in other externship programs, CCLS students gain first-chair experience and take full responsibility for advancing their clients’ cases. Certified under the court rules, students perform all of the tasks that licensed attorneys are authorized to perform, including researching and writing briefs, drafting wills and settlement agreements, arguing motions, interviewing and counseling clients, negotiating with opposing parties and counsel, presenting community legal education programs, conducting depositions and trials, and preparing immigration applications. CCLS supervisors serve as a resource to students, and provide guidance and feedback along the way.
Students are selected by CCLS through a pre-registration procedure that seeks to ensure all interested students an opportunity to participate in a clinic at some point in their law school career. Prospective candidates should download and complete the pre-registration form and return it to CCLS' offices on the first floor prior to the pre-registration deadline. Candidates will be selected by lottery. Students not selected will be given priority in future semesters. All candidates will be notified of their selection status prior to the commencement of general course registration.
All upper division students are eligible to enroll and receive credit in CCLS. However, only students who have completed 28 credits hours may be certified to argue before a judge pursuant to Rule 48 of the D.C. Rules of Superior Court and Rule 16 of The Court of Appeals of Maryland. Students who are not eligible for certification may still participate in all other practical components of the course, including interviews and counseling sessions with actual clients, negotiations with opposing parties, and drafting briefs and pleadings.
Credits and Time Commitment
Students in the Families and the Law Clinic and the Civil Practice Clinic will be enrolled for six credit hours and should expect to commit 20 hours per week to CCLS related duties (which includes classtime). Students participating in the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic may choose to enroll for four, five, or six credits and should expect to commit between 14 to 20 hours per week to the clinic (which includes classtime). Evening students enrolled in Veterans Advocacy and Estate Planning Clinic may choose to enroll from four to six credits and may have varying time commitments depending upon the number of credits selected.
Upper Division Writing Requirement
Participation in a clinic at CCLS can satisfy the upper division writing portfolio requirement. Students interested in pursuing this option should speak with their supervisor as early as possible to begin creating an appropriate body of written work.
Professional Skills Requirement
Per the American Bar Association requirement that all students take at least one professional skills course prior to graduation, enrollment in a CCLS clinical program satisfies this requirement.
After completing one semester at CCLS, students may return for an additional semester, earning either three credits or one credit, with the supervising attorney's permission.
CCLS periodically has short-term volunteer opportunities for students interested in participating in research, policy advocacy, community engagement, interpreter/translation services, and other projects. These opportunities may count towards the law school's Pro Bono Challenge
. For more information, contact Paul Kurth at 202-319-6788.