In fieldwork practicum courses, students participate in weekly seminars and conduct related fieldwork at outside organizations. This fieldwork practicum course will focus on the access to justice crisis in this country. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and carry out 10 hours/week of fieldwork with organizations that are engaged in research and development initiatives to address the civil access to justice crisis.
SEMINAR: In the two-credit, graded, seminar portion of the practicum, students will learn about the nature and extent of the access to justice crisis in this country. They will study situations in which the legal profession has failed to meet its professional responsibilities, consider ways to rectify these failures, enhance their competencies in gathering essential information, engage in creative problem-solving, enhance their legislative and rule drafting skills, gain experience in working as part of a team, and address cultural issues and concerns.
FIELDWORK: In the two-credit, mandatory pass/fail, fieldwork portion of the practicum, students will be assigned to work with organizations that are engaged in research and development initiatives to address the civil access to justice crisis. The organizations may include District-based legal services providers—such as the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless and Legal Counsel for the Elderly, the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, the Legal Services Corporation, major law firm pro bono programs, and bar associations, among others. Initiatives underway include: revising unauthorized practice of law rules to permit non-lawyers to help address unmet legal needs; expanding pro bono commitments through establishing mandatory pro bono requirements, reporting requirements, and through other means; revising ethics rules to promote limited scope representation; creating civil Gideon requirements at federal and state levels in adversarial proceedings where basic human needs are at stake; providing new forms of assistance to those who represent themselves in litigation or in their handling of other legal matters; reforming court rules and procedures to create a fairer environment for pro se litigants; or identifying ways to de-legalize matters, consistent with due process, that can better be handled in a non-adversarial fashion.