In the live client clinics, students are directly responsible for representation of clients. The students are licensed legal interns pursuant to the Oklahoma Supreme Court Student Practice Rules (PDF, opens in a new window).
Through the Civil Clinic, Criminal Defense Clinic, and Section 1983 Clinic, students represent clients from Cleveland and McClain counties who would not otherwise be able to afford counsel. Operating under the close supervision of faculty attorneys, the student interns face many of the same situations and practice demands that they will encounter as attorneys.
Our goal is to ensure that all students have a range of cases that allows them sufficient time to provide their clients vigorous, competent representation while gaining experience in all aspects of civil law practice. The students assume responsibility for every aspect of the case, including interviewing, investigating, negotiating, litigating motions and conducting the trial. Individualized instruction, regular meetings between supervisors and students and critical feedback are essential features of our clinics.
The interns are the primary point of contact for their clients and are responsible for the handling of the case under the guidance of supervising attorneys. Interns interview clients and witnesses, conduct factual investigations and site visits, draft and file pleadings, negotiate with opposing counsel and make court appearances.
Because the clinic is a functioning law office, students utilize a computerized case management system, similar to ones used in private firms, that allows them to document case activity. They maintain client files. They work with other interns on cases. Even casual conversation provides the students with meaningful learning opportunities.
In the first semester of enrollment in a live client clinic, students must also enroll in the three-credit-hour classroom component, Litigation Skills. Members of the clinical faculty teach the course. In this classroom component, the role of an attorney is explored as students simulate the representation of a client from the initial interview to a resolution hearing.
Through simulation exercises, students learn and practice various professional skills such as interviewing, counseling, and negotiating. The classroom exercises are recorded, giving students a chance to hone basic advocacy techniques and critique their performances. The class requires students to reflect critically upon their experiences and foster the ability to learn from experience.
Clinic students design and institute community service projects. The projects have included assisting senior citizens with the execution of health-care directives; hosting a Halloween party for clients’ children; and collecting clothes for an indigent defendants’ clothes closet.
Clinic students also have the opportunity to attend a dinner with Cleveland and McClain County judges giving them the unique opportunity to visit with sittings judges in a relaxed and informal setting.
“As a former criminal and civil clinic student, I enjoyed working with real clients who had real legal problems. I developed certain skills, such as the ability to listen to my clients and understand their unique legal and personal concerns and how to manage my caseloads. Although I was nervous every time I was in the courtroom in front of a judge, having my supervising attorney at my side each time gave me the confidence I needed to advocate for my client. I've made some mistakes (ok, many mistakes), both in and out of the court room, but I have learned from those mistakes. Thankfully, my mistakes did not negatively impact my clients (thanks to my supervising attorneys!). Now that I have graduated and am about to take the Oklahoma bar, I know that I have the skills, experience and confidence I need to embark into the legal profession.”