In the Iowa Law Clinic, students act as attorneys, not interns. They learn necessary skills that cut across practice areas, from client interviewing and case theory development to cultural competence and resilience. Students have primary responsibility for the representation of their clients at all stages of the legal process and learn to use and trust their legal judgment.
The Law Clinic functions like a single law firm with six distinct practice groups: Federal Criminal Defense, Civil & Employment Litigation, Estate Planning, Law & Policy in Action, Immigration, and the Community Empowerment Law Project. The Legal Clinic is unique in that students can choose to focus on one area of law or explore different interests by participating in two practice groups.
Recent clinic students have:
- Taken depositions and successfully represented clients in mediation to settle their employment discrimination claims
- Conducted drive-in and outdoor will signing ceremonies during the pandemic
- Filed successful motions under the First Step Act of 2018 for reduced sentences based on crack-cocaine sentencing disparities
- Designed an advocacy plan that led to the creation and passage of Iowa City’s hate crime ordinance
- Argued a case before the Iowa Supreme Court about preemption and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
- Advocated at the Iowa statehouse in support of legislation to strengthen protections for mobile home owners.
Federal Criminal Defense
Represent indigent individuals charged with federal crimes in the US District Courts of Iowa and engage in post-conviction and decarceration litigation in the US Courts of Appeals for the Eighth and Sixth Circuits.
Provide basic estate planning and document preparation services for clients and families, as well as interactive workshops on wills, trusts, financial and medical directives, and guardianships and conservatorships.
Law & Policy in Action
Support community-based initiatives that improve housing opportunities, empower people with disabilities, and combat discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals, through education, training, technical assistance, and research.
Civil & Employment Litigation
Represent clients in a wide range of civil matters before Iowa state courts and administrative agencies, with a focus on advocacy for workers in employment matters, including race and gender discrimination, wage theft, and unemployment insurance claims.
Represent juveniles and adults in deportation/removal proceedings and affirmative applications, including humanitarian relief, legal permanent resident status, and naturalization, and advocate on legal and policy issues affecting the civil rights of immigrants and their communities.
Community Empowerment Law Project
Advance racial, economic, and social justice in Iowa through collaborative representation of organizations, communities, and government entities in transactional and policy matters, including strategic planning, design of advocacy campaigns, and legislative drafting.
Clinic Application Process
Upon completion of the equivalent of three semesters of law school (a minimum of 39 credit hours), students are able to enroll in Clinic programs.
Students are eligible if they have completed a full summer semester (for a total of at least nine credit hours) and two regular fall or spring semesters. All students must be in good standing and have a GPA of 2.1 or higher.
Because demand for clinic courses usually exceeds supply, selection for the clinic programs is done by means of a lottery. Preference in the selection process is given to persons who sign up for the maximum number of permissible credits.
There is a single lottery for the in-house clinic. After the lottery is complete, students may express particular interest in any area of practice.
Student legal interns may stay on in the in-house clinic as a veteran without re-entering the lottery, with the permission of their supervisors.
During the fall and spring semesters, a student enrolled in the clinic must be present in the clinic 3-4 hours per credit hour per week.
For example, a student taking 9 credits must commit to at least 27-36 hours per week. During the summer semester a student must commit to 50 hours per credit hour. For 9 hours this means working full time.
A required element of every student's first semester in any clinic program (in-house and externship) is the classroom component.
During the fall and spring semesters you may take up to 15 semester hours of credit, including clinic. Students enrolled in the clinic for 9 hours cannot take more than a total of 15 semester hours of credit, except with the permission of the clinic faculty.
Since the summer is considered full time for nine semester hours of credit placements, no other classes are allowed. If you have a question about additional commitments, talk to the Clinic faculty.
All clinic programs are graded numerically.
The "in-house" clinic is located on the third floor of the Boyd Law Building. The clinic suite is fully equipped with computers, printers, and copiers. When students are enrolled in the clinic, their assigned carrels are in the clinic suite.
Cases are supervised by full-time faculty members, and clinic interns have primary responsibility for the representation of their clients at all stages of the legal process, including interviewing and counseling, negotiation, fact investigation, depositions, drafting and briefing, and courtroom appearances. Most interns each semester have an opportunity to argue cases before various state and federal trial or appellate courts, or before administrative agencies.