Apply your lawyering skills in civil litigation cases.

The Civil Litigation & Justice Program gives students the opportunity to use their lawyering skills in a diverse array of courtrooms—from local trial and housing courts, to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, to the federal court. In fact, several landmark decisions by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court began as student-represented cases in the Civil Litigation & Justice Program.

Students in the Civil Litigation & Justice Program choose from three options:

  • Individual Rights Litigation (IRL) Clinic—full-year program (formerly known as the Housing, Employment, Family and Disability Clinic)
    The average IRL Clinic caseload over two semesters typically includes 4–5 cases in areas such as domestic relations, eviction defense, employment law, and Social Security appeals.
  • Access to Justice Clinic —full-year program (*NEW* in Fall 2019)
    The average Access to Justice Clinic caseload covers areas such as domestic relations, eviction defense, employment law, and Social Security appeals. Students are exposed to their clients’ challenges in accessing the justice system and challenged to generate solutions to these barriers.
  • Employment Rights Clinic (ERC)one semester program, fall or spring
    Students represent clients in unemployment compensation cases, with a possibility to work on wage and hour disputes, discrimination/sexual harassment cases, and Family Medical Leave Act cases.

Students participating in the Civil Litigation & Justice Program are eligible for the Concentration in Litigation and Dispute Resolution.

Real Practice, Real Clients, Real Cases

Massachusetts allows second- and third-year law students to practice law in its state and federal courts under the supervision of clinical faculty on behalf of indigent clients in civil cases. Our goal is to put students on cases with a high likelihood of a hearing or trial at the end.

Students learn how interview clients and witnesses, draft pleadings and other legal documents, negotiate with attorneys and conduct research, and appear in court. Everything you do will be discussed with a clinical professor. Your professor will always go to court with you and will make sure that you are adequately prepared, and will review and critique your written work and case planning. The BU Law clinical professors are highly experienced professionals in their fields and dedicate themselves fully to your training and supervision.

Students may expect to spend an average of fifteen hours per week on their cases in the field. Students may spend more, or less, time on clinic work depending on what is happening in the cases during any given week.

The program helps students understand the importance of providing strong representation to all who need it, regardless of economic means. To further assist students with the training process, students also participate in specialized seminars that teach negotiation, ethical decision making, case planning, and trial skills.

Individual Rights Litigation (IRL) Clinic

The IRL Clinic (formerly known as the Housing, Employment, Family and Disability Clinic) is a cluster of clinic and coursework over two semesters. Students earn six graded credits for the field component, which must be taken over both semesters. The classroom component teaches the theories of practice for use in the field. Students receive a total of 12 credits over the two semesters.

Students take the following courses:

Course Prerequisites

If you have not already done so, you must take Evidence during the first semester of clinic participation to satisfy the student practice rule.

Access to Justice Clinic

The Access to Justice Clinic is a full-year clinic. Students earn six credits for fieldwork and six credits for coursework over two semesters. The classroom component places students’ casework and the access-to-justice challenges faced by their clients within a larger theoretical and societal context by encouraging them to examine their role as counsel for poverty-law clients and explore the systemic social justice issues raised in their cases.

Students take the following courses:

Course Prerequisites

If you have not already done so, you must take Evidence during the first semester of clinic participation to satisfy the student practice rule.

Employment Rights Clinic (ERC)

The ERC is a one-semester clinic, for which students earn three credits for fieldwork and three credits for coursework. Depending on their semester of participation, students take either a pretrial advocacy and professional responsibility course (fall) or a trial advocacy course (spring). Both courses focus on developing students’ practice skills.

Students participating in ERC in the fall semester take the following courses:

Students participating in ERC in the spring semester take the following courses:

Course Pre-/Co-requisites

Students must have already taken Evidence or students must take this class concurrently with the ERC.

Faculty

The Civil Litigation & Justice Program is taught by:

For more information about the Civil Litigation & Justice Program, please contact Professor Robert Burdick.