Transforming Students into Lawyers

The Civil Legal Clinic currently educates about 45 students each school year. Over the last decade alone, 300 law students have represented their first clients in serious legal matters during their time in the clinic.

Clinic students serve as lead attorneys, working under the direct supervision of experienced lawyers. As lead counsel, our students are transformed into actual lawyers by:

  • Interviewing and advising clients
  • Effectively using substantive and procedural law
  • Drafting pleadings and motions
  • Investigating and develop the facts of a case
  • Preparing for trial and appear in court
  • Learning case and office-management procedures
  • Resolving ethical dilemmas in real-world settings

This hands-on education prepares graduates for the work they will do upon entering the legal profession and lessens the burden on employers to train new hires for practice.

Meeting a Critical Need for Mississippi

Civil Legal Clinic students provide more than 5,000 hours of pro bono legal services per academic year to Mississippians in crisis who would not otherwise have legal assistance—from an abused child in dire need of a court-appointed advocate, to a family struggling with eviction, to a grandmother who urgently needs a will.

Civil Legal Clinic professors provide an additional 2,400 hours of client work and case supervision each year. All told, the clinic provides representation to hundreds of individuals annually—meeting a desperate need in a state with only one free legal service attorney available per 18,000 eligible low-income residents.

In addition to directly assisting Mississippians in need, clinic students work at the request of lawmakers to:

  • Conduct research,
  • Draft policy, and
  • Testify as experts before state legislative committees to help create much-needed legislative and rule change in Mississippi.

Clinic students have been instrumental in the passage of the current Mississippi adoption, human trafficking, and custody statutes, among others. And when Katrina hit, the Civil Legal Clinic responded by working closely with the Mississippi Bar to produce the Katrina Lawyer’s Manual, which is still in use today.