Students in the Civil-Criminal Litigation Clinic and Veterans Legal Clinic attend class and practice law together. Students learn the fundamentals of litigation, which are readily transferable to any substantive area of practice or practice setting, from big law to legal services. They do so by litigating multiple real cases as first-chair attorneys on behalf of indigent clients, some of whom are veterans, and all of whom have a disproportionately high need for legal assistance. Students must concurrently enroll in the corresponding 4-credit Clinics course and 3-credit Clinics seminar (LAW 920 AND LAW 921).
The civil caseload changes term to term, but typically includes landlord-tenant, consumer, family law, public benefits, employment and employment discrimination, disability, contracts, torts, public benefits, civil rights, and military discharge cases. We try to keep a wide mix of work, from simple one-issue cases to large, complex cases raising issues of first impression. On the criminal side, students handle misdemeanor cases and post-conviction felony appeals and criminal record expungements.
Students have “first-chair” responsibility for their cases and primary responsibility for their clients. Under faculty supervision, students do all the legal work, including interviewing, counseling, legal research, discovery, negotiation with opposing counsel, motion practice and argument, bench and jury trials, and appeals. Students may handle cases in state district, circuit, and probate courts, as well as the federal district courts, state and federal administrative agencies, and appellate courts.
Both the seminar and fieldwork are graded. The Clinics meet the New York State Bar pro bono requirement ( The Clinics seminar fulfills the Law School’s professional responsibility requirement for graduation but does not fulfill the New York State Bar ethics requirement.