The Law School Clinics: Education and Access panel featured Julie Waterstone, Director of the Children’s Rights Clinic and Associate Clinical Professor at Southwestern Law School; Patience Crowder, Assistant Professor and creator of the Community Economic Development Clinic at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law; Jeffrey Selbin, Clinical Professor and Faculty Director of the East Bay Community Law Center at UC Berkeley Boalt Hall; and Brad Bernthal, Associate Clinical Professor of Law with the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic and Technology Law & Policy Clinic at the University of Colorado Law School. Colene Robinson, Associate Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School, moderated the panel. The panelists each discussed the dichotomy between the two primary objectives of law school clinical programs: educating students in the practical skills of lawyering while striving to provide high quality legal representation to those who cannot afford traditional representation. I will discuss Professor Waterstone’s and Professor Crowder’s comments on the panel.
Professor Waterstone established the Children’s Rights Clinic at Southwestern Law. In this clinic, students represent youth and their families in special education and school discipline cases, primarily by assisting students who are facing school exclusion. Prior to starting the clinic, Professor Waterstone spent six months surveying the greater Los Angeles area in order to assess the unmet needs of the community and determined that special education and school discipline were areas that would both benefit from clinical representation and would be a positive experiential learning opportunity for students participating in the law school clinic. In addressing the tension between the dual objectives of educating the law school students participating in the clinic and providing legal representation to the community, Professor Waterstone stated that training was the most important aspect in reaching the two goals in tandem. Training the law students to effectively interview and counsel clients, while also enabling them to train their clients with the skills to act as pro se litigants allowed students to gain practical skills to further their educational experiences as student attorneys, while also providing tangible legal services to clients in need. For more information on the Children’s Rights Clinic, please click here.
Professor Crowder created the Community Economic Development Clinic, the first transactional clinic at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. The clinic assists small business owners with formation of their businesses ranging in services from contract and lease review to counseling clients regarding IRS compliance. Many of the clinic’s clients are women and minority business owners as well as clients who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. In discussing the competing objectives of educating the law students and providing legal services to clients in need, Professor Crowder emphasized the importance of explaining the dual goals to potential clients so that they know what to expect before retaining clinical representation. As the law school’s first, and only, transactional clinic, the Community Economic Development Clinic seeks to provide practical experiential learning opportunities to students who are interested in becoming transactional attorneys. Professor Crowder challenges the clinical students to examine the clinic in the larger context of clinical programs and social justice by urging them to think about questions such as what it means to represent a for-profit business when we do not normally think of these types of clients as an underserved population. Professor Crowder stated that while there is the danger of “forcing an artificial distinction,” it is important to encourage students to think about their clients’ place in the community and to examine issues of economic injustice. For more information on the Community Economic Development Clinic, please click here.
 J.D. Candidate, 2013, University of Denver Sturm College of Law.