Clinical Legal Education

Clinical Legal Education

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 School. Five 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 20 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 in the areas of child protection, bankruptcy, criminal practice, federal litigation (civil rights and employment discrimination), nonprofit law, and juvenile justice.

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. Also, professional skills courses are offered in the areas of negotiation: Alternative Dispute Resolution and Discovery Practice. The Interviewing, Counseling and Negotiation course is a second and third year priority course so that skills education is available to a greater percentage of the student body.

The newest skills courses are Capstone courses. Offered to only third year, second semester students, these courses provide intense doctrine and skills based training and include seasoned attorneys from the community as instructors.

The Small Business Capstone course (5 credits) provides hands-on training in transactional practice based on start up and venture capital representation, and includes drafting Term Sheets, LLC Operating Agreements and Shareholder Agreements. The class includes simulation and in-class exercises as well as doctrinal classes.