The Clinical Law Program gives Willamette students the opportunity to represent clients in actual cases and transactions under the close supervision of Willamette faculty. The goal of the program is to instill in our students a strong sense of professionalism, standards of excellence, and an appreciation for the importance of reflection and balance in the practice of law. Through the program, students have opportunities to represent real clients in transactional and litigation contexts.
Students in the program interview and counsel clients; investigate facts and research law; formulate legal theories of the case; choose legal tactics to achieve client goals; draft pleadings, transactional documents and correspondence; negotiate on behalf of clients with opposing counsel; and represent clients in court. Throughout this process, the clinic's supervising law faculty consult with students, review their work and encourage legal excellence.
Students working in the clinic may represent abused and neglected children in need of a safe and loving adoptive family, or a victim of domestic violence seeking a restraining order, a custody order and child support so he or she can begin a new life in safety. Another client may be a local nonprofit corporation seeking advice on issues related to incorporation, tax-exempt status and liability issues. Other clients are refugees seeking asylum from political dangers to themselves and their families. Students also may represent a terminally ill client wanting to prepare a will, name a guardian to care for his or her children, or seeking advice on assisted suicide.
Student Participation in the Program
Students in the Clinical Law Program learn by doing while receiving the close supervision and expert instruction needed for a successful experience. Students participate in the Clinical Law Program by enrolling in one of the six clinics: Business Law Clinic (618-01), Trusts and Estates Clinic (618-03), Child and Family Advocacy Clinic (618-04), Law and Government Clinic (618-06), Sustainability Clinic (618-08), and International Human Rights Clinic (618-09). The clinics are graded on a letter basis, and students can earn two to four academic credits per semester. If students perform well in their first semester of clinic, they may apply to enroll for a second semester in the same clinic or in a clinic with a different practice area to provide students with more in-depth or diverse legal experiences to match their professional development goals.
Clinical courses are open to second- and third-year students in good academic standing; however, due to frequent over-enrollment, priority is given to third-year students.
"The Clinical Law Program has given me the experience of plotting the entire strategy of a civil case, from arranging the opening client interview to strategizing settlement or trial. Such an experience is invaluable to my law school education and will prepare me for actual practice."