Tulane was the first law school in the country to require its students to perform pro bono work as a condition for graduating. Every one of the 3600 students who has received a JD since 1990 successfully performed at least 20 hours of community service work. In fact, most students have exceeded the minimum requirement and thus were able to address even more legal needs. In 2006, the pro bono requirement was increased to 30 hours. Tulane offers six clinical programs which range from the traditional civil litigation, criminal defense, and juvenile justice representation to newer clinics such as domestic violence, environmental, and legislative and administrative advocacy.
The Tulane Civil Litigation Clinic (TCLC) provides students the opportunity to represent live clients primarily in civil rights matters in federal court. The civil rights docket of the TCLC typically consists of employment discrimination, fair housing, police misconduct, and First Amendment claims. Civil rights cases may involve allegations of discrimination based on any number of grounds, including race, color, national origin, religion, disability, gender, pregnancy, and familial status.
Through Tulane's Criminal Defense Clinic, third-year law students represent indigent defendants charged with felonies and misdemeanors in the criminal district court. Clinic students also brief and argue appeals in the state appellate courts, including the Louisiana Supreme Court. The Criminal Defense Clinic also accepts appointments to represent indigent criminal defendants charged with federal crimes in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Students in the Domestic Violence clinic represent clients escaping violent relationships and seeking protective orders, divorces and custody of their children. Students strategize with clients about their safety and work on a variety of legal issues important to clients’ economic independence. The Clinic provides civil legal service but also offers good training for future prosecutors.
The Tulane environmental law curriculum ranges from theoretical and statutory courses to live client practice in the Environmental Law Clinic, where students take legal action on behalf of their clients to protect public health and natural resources. Tulane offers a Certificate of Specialization in Environmental Law for JD students and the LLM in Energy & Environment for graduate students. In addition, students find at Tulane a strong international environmental law curriculum; the high-quality student-published Tulane Environmental Law Journal; an active, student-run Environmental Law Society; the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic and an environmental think-tank, the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy. The Tulane Environmental Law Clinic (TELC) is a cross between a law school class and a law firm. Its purpose is to train law students in the practical aspects of representing clients in highly regulated fields. This type of practice requires strategic thinking, thorough investigation and research, and persuasive communication. TELC student attorneys are responsible for advancing client interests in a wide range of environmental disputes.
Student attorneys in the Juvenile Law Clinic litigate delinquency and dependency (or abuse and neglect cases) in the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court system. The student-attorneys are sworn in to practice law under Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XX. They argue all pre-trial motions, preliminary examinations, arraignments, competency hearings, and they handle the trials or adjudication hearings, and draft all writs or appeals in the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, and the state Supreme Court.
The Mediation Clinic is designed to train law students both to mediate a range of disputes and cases and to understand the mediation process so as to be able to represent clients in mediations. The training includes the fundamentals of negotiation and mediation as a form of assisted negotiation. Students are introduced to the principles of conflict resolution, negotiation theory and strategy, and mediation theory and techniques. Skill training involves listening and questioning, information gathering, issue identification, problem-solving, generating options and bargaining, power imbalances, cultural, gender, and bias issues, ethical standards, and crafting and enforcement of agreements.
The Public Law Center (TPLC) began operation in January 1988 as a joint project of the Tulane and Loyola Schools of Law, with the aid of monies from the US Department of Education. TPLC is housed at Tulane and handles matters in Baton Rouge at the state legislature and administrative rulemaking proceeding before state agencies for traditionally under-represented groups, such as the elderly and the handicapped. In its role as a clinical legal education program, TPLC staff and students represent disadvantaged clients in the legislative and administrative processes of government, appearing at the legislature and before state agencies to present the bills and proposed regulations they have researched and drafted for client groups. Programs include the following: Community Benefit Agreement Assistance and Community Impact Research.
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