Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find answers to many questions you may have about participating in a clinic and/or externship. Should you have additional questions, contact any of the clinical or externship faculty or staff members or email email@example.com.
- What is the difference between a clinic and an externship?
- What is the LSU Law Clinic?
- What clinical courses are currently being offered?
- Why take clinical courses?
- What do students do in the clinics that are currently offered?
- What type of clients are represented in the clinics? How do they qualify?
- What is the faculty/student ratio in the clinic?
- What externship opportunities are currently available?
- What do students do in externships?
- Who may enroll in a clinic or externship?
- Can students enroll in both clinic and externships? Can students take more than one?
- Are there any prerequisites for enrolling in clinics or externships?
- Do students enjoy clinics and externships?
- Who teaches the clinic and externships programs?
- Is there a classroom component involved?
- How many credit hours can I receive per clinic or externship?
- Are clinics and externships more work than classroom courses?
- How are clinics and externships graded?
- Are placements into clinics or externships based on my GPA?
- How do I enroll in a clinic or externship?
- Where do I go if I have questions about either clinics or externships?
Clinics place students in practice as lawyers, legal staff or mediators. Clinic students have greater responsibility as legal professionals or mediators for actual people with real legal issues. It is the “medical school residency” of law schools in that students are engaged in actual practice.
Externships place students with judges or lawyers working for legal service providers and government agencies. Students work as clerks for the lawyers or judges in those offices and are not responsible for their own clients or parties.
What is the LSU Law Clinic?
The LSU Law Clinic is a legal services office located on the first floor of the Old Law Building. Under faculty supervision, 2L and 3L students represent clients in the community or mediate for parties in conflict. The public Law Clinic entrance is located on the rear southeast corner of the building off of the Faculty Club parking lot and the student entrance is located on the first floor of the Old Law Building (under McKernan Auditorium). Access is limited to students who are enrolled in Law Clinic courses. Clinic faculty offices are located on the central corridor of the first floor of the Old Law Building. LSU Law students enroll in clinic courses and work in the Law Clinic as student attorneys, legal professionals or mediators. This means they assist real clients with real legal issues before various courts and administrative agencies. All of the clients the Law Clinic accepts are indigent and cannot afford legal counsel. Working in the Law Clinic is a great way for students to gain experience practicing law, earn credit towards graduation and provide a service to people in need. Since law school is very hard work, the Law Clinic is a great way for students to practice and improve their skills prior to graduation. Clinics provide opportunities for students to apply the substantive law and procedure learned in class, while serving underrepresented populations.
What clinical courses are currently being offered?
Check the schedule each semester because we are growing the Clinical Program and expect to add new courses. Currently, we offer six clinical courses: The Juvenile Defense Clinic, the Immigration Law Clinic, the Civil Mediation Clinic, the Family Mediation Clinic, the Parole Assistance and Re-entry Clinic, the Prosecution Clinic and the Advocacy for Victims of Sexual Assault (STAR). Most clinics are offered in both the fall and spring semesters, however the Parole and Re-entry Clinic is currently only offered in the fall and the Family Mediation Clinic is currently only offered in the spring.
Why take clinical courses?
The law faculty believe that the LSU Law Center has an obligation to prepare its graduates to practice law. Clinical courses provide students with the practice needed to represent clients with confidence upon graduation. Students will gain valuable experience in interviewing skills, fact development and research, drafting legal documents, and appearing in court. They will be exposed to a law-office environment through the clinical program in which current case management and time-keeping software will be utilized. Although the clinics may focus on a particular area of representation, the skills learned in each clinic will help students become more effective lawyers, regardless of their chosen practice area.
The Law Center currently offers clinics in the areas of immigration, juvenile defense, civil mediation, family mediation, parole assistance, prosecution and advocacy for victims of sexual assault.
Students in the Juvenile Defense Clinic represent children in delinquency proceedings in East Baton Rouge Juvenile Court. Students work for child clients who are often accused of committing serious offenses. They represent the clients at all stages of the proceedings, including detention hearings, adjudication (trial) and disposition. Students meet for class at the Law Center on Wednesday afternoons and then do most of their casework at the East Baton Rouge Juvenile Court Complex located near the Baton Rouge airport. Although the focus is on juveniles, students learn substantive juvenile law, criminal law and criminal procedure. Students also learn valuable client skills, case management and trial skills. Most students have numerous opportunities to appear before the judges in the juvenile court.
The Immigration Law Clinic provides students with the opportunity to represent clients in immigration proceedings. Most of the clients accepted by the immigration clinic are victims of crime and domestic violence in the United States or fled their home countries to escape torture or persecution. The clinic handles a myriad of immigration matters, including asylum, VAWA, Special Immigrant Juvenile cases and U Visa cases. Students also travel to immigration detention facilities around the state and represent clients before the Executive Office of Immigration Review in Immigration Court in Oakdale, La., or New Orleans. Students also represent clients in administrative matters in Citizenship and Immigration Services and on appeal before the Board of Immigration Appeals. Students learn substantive immigration law and procedure as well as develop essential lawyering skills. Although the focus is on immigration, students develop skills important to be effective practitioners in any area of the law.
The Civil Mediation Clinic trains students to mediate resolution of conflict and assist as mediators in civil cases. After training, faculty supervise students in mediating cases referred from the Baton Rouge City Court or other referral sources. The course covers the basics of negotiation theory, the role of the mediator and fundamental norms of mediation, the skills and process of mediation and the ethics of mediation. The Family Mediation Clinic focuses on the mediation skills necessary for effective co-parenting mediation.
The Parole Assistance and Re-entry Clinic focuses on the representation of individual prisoners through the parole hearing process and further assists them with legal issues affecting their ability to re-enter civilian life. Parole hearings are conducted by a panel of members of the Parole Committee and take place at the Department of Correction headquarters and at various correctional institutions.
In the Prosecution Clinic, students work under the supervision of assistant district attorneys in the East Baton Rouge DA’s Office to prosecute misdemeanors and assist in felony cases. Students learn about the prosecution function through experience and have the opportunity to appear in court regularly; interview victims, witnesses and law enforcement; argue motions; conduct plea negotiations; and gain valuable trial experience.
Students in the newly offered Advocacy for Victims of Sexual Assault (STAR) Clinic assist survivors of sexual violence, create new services to address the legal needs of survivors, enhance collaboration with medical and criminal justice partners and develop regional protocols to address sexual assault in the Baton Rouge area.
What type of clients are represented in the clinics? How do they qualify?
Clients of the LSU Law Clinic are identified through various agencies in the community who are unable to afford legal representation on their own. Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XX requires that no certified law student can represent any individual whose income is more than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Therefore, the Law Clinic represents individuals who are often living in extreme poverty and would have no access to the justice system but for student representation.
What is the faculty/student ratio in the clinic?
The ratio varies, but clinic classes are very small – generally no more than 8:1. The low student ratio means that faculty can work closely with students and are easily available for supervision and consultation on case work.
What externship opportunities are currently available?
Second- and third-year students can participate in judicial, government or public interest/nonprofit externships during the fall or spring semesters. Additionally, students may participate in externships during the summers following their first and second years.
What do students do in externships?
Students in the Judicial Externship Program serve as law clerk externs in the chambers of judges in either the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (New Orleans or Lafayette), the Louisiana Supreme Court (New Orleans), the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans), the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana (Baton Rouge) or the Louisiana Circuit Court of Appeal for the First Circuit (Baton Rouge). Students also can be placed in state trial courts. Students’ experiences vary depending upon the court to which they are assigned, but all placements provide substantive experience for students working as judicial law clerks. The experience includes legal research and drafting memos, writ reports, bench briefs as well as record review and preparing or reviewing draft opinions. Students placed with the district courts and state trial courts often have the opportunity to observe pretrial hearings and trials. Students placed in one of the appellate courts may have the opportunity to observe oral arguments. There is a required classroom component to the Judicial Externship Program that meets for one hour per week.
Students participating in the Governmental Externship Program have the opportunity to work in a number of local, state and federal government offices throughout Louisiana. Students may be placed in one of the legal divisions of the Louisiana Department of Justice/Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, the Offices of the District Attorneys for the 19th and 23rd Judicial Districts, the Louisiana Department of Revenue, the Office of the Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service or other government offices as available. Students work with attorneys in these offices, conducting legal research and drafting memoranda, pleadings, trial and appellate briefs, and a variety of other legal documents. Students also have the opportunity to observe a wide variety of court proceedings and hearings, and some will assist attorneys in preparing cases for hearings and trials. There is a required classroom component to the Government Externship Program that meets during the semester.
Students participating in the Public Interest/Nonprofit Externship will advocate and defend the interests of poor and marginalized populations. This externship allows students to choose from several local public interest and nonprofit organizations that serve the legal needs of the poor. Brief descriptions of the current organizations can be found on the externships page. Students will gain hands-on experience and develop a wide variety of practical lawyering skills in both litigation and non-litigation practice settings. There is a required classroom component to the Public Interest/Nonprofit Externship that meets during the semester.
Students in summer externships can be placed with any of the judges or in any of the agencies mentioned above, as well as in approved legal settings outside of the Baton Rouge area. Students in prior summer placements have worked all over the United States and even in international placements.
Who may enroll in a clinic or externship?
Clinical courses are limited to 2L and 3L students. The Prosecution Clinic and the Advocacy for Victims of Sexual Assault Clinic require student certification pursuant to Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XX and are thus limited to 3Ls who have also completed/passed Legal Professions (Law 5721). Since Immigration Law and Civil and Family Mediation students and externship students are not certified to practice law, they are available to second- and third-year students. The Juvenile Defense and the Parole Assistance and Re-entry Clinics are open to both 2Ls and 3Ls, with preference given to 3L students. All clinics and externship enrollment is at the instructor’s permission following the online application process.
Can students enroll in both clinic and externships? Can students take more than one?
Students may not simultaneously enroll in both clinics and externships, but they can take the opportunity to enroll in a clinic one semester and an externship in another semester. Students interested in multiple clinic or externship experiences should speak to either Professor Lancaster or Professor Brooks as early as possible to develop a plan for taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible.
Are there any prerequisites for enrolling in clinics or externships?
There are no set prerequisites for any of the externships; however, in order to enroll in the Prosecution Clinic or the Advocacy for Victims of Sexual Assault Clinic (STAR), students need to have completed The Legal Profession (5721). The prerequisite is required by Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XX. If you are interested in enrolling in these clinics, it is highly recommended that you complete The Legal Profession during your second year. While the Juvenile Defense Clinic and the Parole Assistance and Re-entry Clinic accept 2Ls and 3Ls, some preference may be given to 3Ls who have completed The Legal Profession. The Legal Profession is not required for enrollment in other clinics.
Do students enjoy clinics and externships?
Clinic and externship students consistently comment that these were some of the most valuable experiences obtained while in law school. They require hard work and a considerable time commitment, but the payoff can be invaluable.
Who teaches the clinic and externships programs?
Clinics are taught by Law Center faculty as well as several extremely talented clinical adjunct professors who are experienced, respected experts in their field. Externships are supervised by Law Center faculty, and the classroom component, if required, is taught by Law Center faculty. However, students are placed with judges and attorneys in practice who serve as the students’ placement supervisors.
Is there a classroom component involved?
All clinics have a classroom component. The externships have a classroom component that meets during the fall and spring semesters at the Law Center, and either at the Law Center or online in the summer. The individualized externship does not have a classroom component (students also receive less credit), but does require numerous individual meetings with Law Center faculty over the course of the semester.
How many credit hours can I receive per clinic or externship?
The Immigration Law Clinic and Juvenile Defense Clinic are all five credit courses. They have a two credit course component and a three credit practicum. The Civil Mediation Clinic, the Parole Assistance and Re-entry Clinic, the Prosecution Clinic, and the Advocacy for Victims of Sexual Assault Clinic are for three credit hours. Students in the Family Mediation Clinic will earn two credits for the Practicum course, along with a co-requisite skills course (two credits) titled Child Custody and Visitation Mediation Skills – for a total of four credits. The Judicial Externship Program, the Louisiana Governmental Externship Program and the Public Interest/Nonprofit Externship are for three credit hours. The other externship opportunities vary, so consult registration information each semester.
Are clinics and externships more work than classroom courses?
Not necessarily, but they are a lot of work and require a commitment of time. Unlike other courses that are often designed around a final exam or paper, clinics and externship courses do not require an exam or paper. Also, most other courses are carefully designed around a syllabus, readings and class discussion, and clinics and externships are not. Although all clinics and some externships have a classroom component, most of the students’ learning comes through their work with their clients or their work in the field. Because of this, students have to manage their time compared to other courses. For example, in the clinic, a client receive an emergency call that needs attention immediately. Since the student is the lawyer, the student has a professional obligation to attend to the needs of the client. This obligation is fundamental to the practice of law.
How are clinics and externships graded?
The five credit clinics are graded pass/fail for the three credit practicum component and numerical grades are assigned for the two credit course component. All other clinics and externships are graded on a ranked pass/fail scale. An “E” is given for excellent performance, an “HP” for high pass, a “P” for pass or an “F” for fail.
Are placements into clinics or externships based on my GPA?
No. Clinics and externships are open to all students. All students, regardless of past academic performance, are encouraged to apply. The only instance where grades are considered is in applicants for the Judicial Externship Program because some judges participating in the program request information on grades and review of a transcript or writing sample prior to accepting a student for work in their chambers. The other externships and clinics do not have that same consideration.
How do I enroll in a clinic or externship?
You may apply to the clinics or externships of your choice when the online application opens (you will be able to rank your preferences). Some clinics and externships will also require a personal interview. You will be notified prior to registration if the instructor has granted permission to the registrar to confirm your enrollment.
What if I have additional questions not answered here?
There are a lot of people here at the Law Center who can answer questions about clinics or externships and which opportunities may be right for you. Professor Robert Lancaster is the Director of Clinical Programs and can answer general questions about all of the clinical and externship offerings. He can be reached in Room W151 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professor Jeffrey Brooks is the Director of Externship Programs and he can answer general questions about available externships, including the Judicial, Governmental and Public Interest/Nonprofit Externships. Professor Brooks can be reached in Room W155 or at email@example.com.
Clinic Coordinator Brenda Salassi is also a helpful resource and can answer your questions regarding specific clinic procedures such as application forms and deadlines. Ms. Salassi can be found in Room W112 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You should also feel free to contact the specific professors who teach the clinics and externships. Contact information may be found on each clinic’s page.
Also, Michele Forbes (email@example.com) in the Registrar’s Office can answer your questions.