Civil Law Clinic

For Law Students

Students provide free legal advice and representation to University of Alabama students and to members of the community in civil matters on a limited referral basis. Students handle cases from intake interviews through negotiations and to hearings and trials in small claims, district, and circuit courts. The Clinic’s caseload encompasses a wide variety of legal claims, including consumer law, debt collection defense, domestic relations, housing, insurance, municipal court infractions (misdemeanors), torts, and other civil matters.

CIVIL LAW CLINIC
LAW 665-004

Director
Professor Anne Hornsby

Eligibility
2Ls and 3Ls, but preference in registration is given to 3rd year students who can register with the Alabama State Bar to be certified for a “student practice card.”

Credit hours/duration
The clinic is offered for 4 credits and is a one-semester clinic.

Weekly classes
Case Rounds: 1½ hour TBA
Seminar: 1 hour TBA

The Civil Law Clinic is the oldest of the Law School’s clinics, having been in operation for more than 35 years. Operating much like a general civil practice law firm, the Civil Clinic handles a variety of advisory, legal transaction, and litigation matters. The Clinic provides free legal services for University of Alabama students. It receives some support from the UA Student Government Association and works cooperatively with the SGA to make students aware of its services and to provide information on common legal issues. It also receives support from the Alabama Law Foundation and serves members of the community who may be unable to obtain legal representation for various reasons. The Clinic’s primary goal is to train law students, through representation of clients, to be effective, highly professional lawyers. In the process of achieving that goal, the Clinic’s Director, staff and student interns strive to provide excellent legal assistance to Clinic clients and access to the civil justice system for persons in need of its remedies.

Highlights of Civil Clinic Activities

The Civil Clinic handles a full range of civil matters as well as certain municipal infractions or violations for University students. Clinic third-year students who are certified through the state bar as student interns regularly appear in Tuscaloosa Municipal Court and Tuscaloosa County District and Circuit Courts representing clients at all stages of litigation. Common types of cases include landlords/tenant disputes, employment matters, contracts, car accidents, insurance matters, consumer complaints, financial and debt management, immigration, drivers’ license problems, alcohol violations, domestic relations, and civil rights. In addition, Clinic students interact, negotiate, and work cooperatively in reaching settlements and participate in mediations and agency proceedings.

What Types of Cases Does the Civil Clinic Handle?

The Civil Clinic handles a full range of civil matters as well as certain municipal infractions or violations for University students. Clinic third-year students who are certified through the state bar as student interns regularly appear in Tuscaloosa Municipal Court and Tuscaloosa County District and Circuit Courts representing clients at all stages of litigation. Common types of cases include landlords/tenant disputes, employment matters, contracts, car accidents, insurance matters, consumer complaints, financial and debt management, immigration, drivers’ license problems, alcohol violations, domestic relations, and civil rights. In addition, Clinic students interact, negotiate, and work cooperatively in reaching settlements and participate in mediations and agency proceedings.

What Types of Work Will I Do in the Civil Clinic?

In the Civil Clinic, students carry and manage their own caseload, depending on the number and complexity of each of their cases. In the process, students develop skills that are fundamental to competent lawyering: problem solving, legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, fact investigation, oral and written communication and advocacy, interviewing and counseling, negotiation, understanding of legal and administrative institutions and procedures, organizing and managing legal work, and recognizing professional responsibilities and resolving ethical dilemmas. The process starts when applicants for Clinic legal services are interviewed and their cases evaluated collectively in case rounds. Once a case is accepted for representation, the student intern acts as the attorney on the matter up to and including trial. The student, with the support of the supervising attorney, develops the legal theories, investigates the facts of the case, decides on and executes pretrial matters such as discovery and motion practice, and follows the case through to resolution, usually settlement or trial. The student intern deals directly with the client, witnesses, opposing parties or their attorneys, and appears in court on behalf of his or her clients.

What are the Civil Clinic Credits, Workload and Other Requirements?

The Civil Clinic is a one-semester, 4-credit course. Preference during registration is given to 3rd year students, who must register WELL IN ADVANCE OF THE BEGINNING OF THE SEMESTER with the Alabama State Bar to receive a “student practice card.” Students with that certification may appear before state courts, which increases their ability to gain experience and offer services in the Clinic. The course meets twice a week, in a 1-hour seminar and 1½-hour case rounds and staffing meeting. Time spent in a given week will vary, but students are expected to spend an average of 12-14 hours per week on casework and in class. In the seminar, students learn the skills, procedures, and strategies for successful client representation and discuss and develop an understanding of lawyers’ roles and professional responsibilities. In the case rounds, students present the week’s applications for legal services, evaluate potential clients and cases, share experiences and information, and work together to problem-solve on-going cases.

About Professor Anne Hornsby
Professor Hornsby joined the Law School as Director of the Civil Law Clinic and Assistant Professor of Clinical Education in 2006. Professor Hornsby received her undergraduate and M.B.A. degrees from the University of Alabama. She worked in publishing for two national magazines and then in student affairs administration at the University before receiving her JD from the University of Alabama. After graduation, she clerked for the Honorable Myron Thompson, U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Alabama, and then joined the litigation firm of Lightfoot, Franklin & White in Birmingham, where she became a partner in 2004. For more information on the Clinic, contact Professor Hornsby at (205) 348-0262 or ahornsby@law.ua.edu.