Department of Clinical Legal Studies
Description of the Program
The University's clinical curriculum is what many would consider a model program. To improve the quality of educational experience provided, USC has long been committed to a client-contact clinical program taught by experienced, full-time faculty and located in the Law Center. Six members of the full-time faculty devote a substantial portion of their teaching energies to in-house clinical legal education. These faculty members have an average of 15 years clinical teaching experience. The client-contact clinical courses are structured to provide students not only with an opportunity to gain skills but with an opportunity for reflection upon their performances and the lawyer's role in the legal system. To accomplish these goals, much of the teaching in clinical courses is done on a one-to-one basis. Faculty members observe or review all student work and provide detailed critiques. As a result, student demand for clinical courses is high, but enrollments must be kept low.
Clinical courses are currently offered by the Department of Clinical Legal Studies in the areas of child protection, bankruptcy, criminal practice, domestic practice, federal litigation (civil rights and employment discrimination), non-profit law, and juvenile justice. In addition to these in-house areas of study, the Judicial Internship Clinic places a limited number of students with trial and appellate court judges in the greater Columbia area. The law school also operates the Children's Law Center, which serves as a resource center in child abuse and neglect litigation. Brief descriptions of each of the clinics and the opportunities they offer students are provided on the website.
The upper-level curriculum also offers skills training for students in a wide range of simulation courses. In addition to the traditional trial advocacy course, the law school offers a criminal trial practice course and a two-week intensive trial advocacy course. Lawyering Skills and Advocacy combines trial advocacy and instruction in interviewing, counseling, and negotiation in one three-hour course. Pretrial Practice provides students with an in-depth, semester-long, simulated experience of taking a civil case from initial client interview through the final pretrial conference and settlement. Several other professional skills courses are offered periodically in the areas of negotiation, alternative dispute resolution, legal drafting, collective bargaining and labor arbitration, and discovery. The newest addition to the professional skills curriculum is the Interviewing, Counseling, and Negotiation course. In an attempt to make skills education available to a greater percentage of the student body, this course is designed to accommodate larger student enrollment than other simulation courses.