Professor Silas A. Harris was the first director of the Clinical Program
April 2004 marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of clinical education at the College of Law of The Ohio State University, now the Moritz College of Law. In April 1934, the law school established its Legal Clinic-the fifth law school in the country to incorporate a clinical program into its regular curriculum.
The Clinical Program was established with the assistance of the Student Bar Association, the Columbus Family Bureau, and the Columbus Barristers' Club. Members of the Barristers' Club supervised the work of the students.
In March 1935, Professor Silas A. Harris became the first director of the clinic, and the outreach of the Clinical Program expanded substantially. Cases began to be referred to the clinic from local attorneys, judges, and social service agencies. The Columbus Bar Association and the Columbus Legal Aid Committee assisted with matters that went to litigation. The clinic proved to be such a valuable addition to the curriculum that in 1937 participation in the Legal Clinic was required for graduation from the college.
By 1941 the Legal Clinic had become firmly established in the curriculum and the Columbus legal community. The Ohio State University Bulletin for the year 1941 described the Legal Clinic as:
[Providing] practical experience in handling actual cases for Legal Aid clients under the supervision of the director of the clinic; preparing reports on each case; cooperating with public defenders, organized charities, the Family and Children's Bureau and members of the bar; drafting legal papers; negotiating with parties and assisting in the trial of cases.
In addition, the Legal Clinic at Ohio State did its part in the war effort from 1940 until 1945. In cooperation with the Red Cross, students assisted the servicemen and women, who were fighting in World War II, and their families.
In 1954 the Legal Aid and Defender Society of Columbus was established and the clinic began sending law students to its downtown office to assist attorneys working for the society. The clinic continued to handle cases involving university students and employees from its office at the College of Law. It is believed that during this period the clinic was supervised by Ms. Margaret Daeler under the overall direction of Professor Bob Wills.
Chuck Thompson, director of the Clinical Program in the mid 1970s, goes over a case with students
From 1964 to 1968, the clinic was directed by Professor Gerald Messerman. During his tenure, the clinic focused on criminal appeals and habeas corpus matters, a change from its previous emphasis on domestic relations.
During this period, the Supreme Court of Ohio had not yet adopted a student practice rule, so students were not permitted to directly represent clients in court.
Following Messerman, Professor Bruce Jacob became the clinic director, hiring the present dean of the college, Nancy H. Rogers, as a clinic attorney. Later in his career, Jacob became the dean of Stetson University College of Law in Florida.
In the early 1970s, while Jacob was the director, clinical "courses" were introduced for the first time into the curriculum: the Civil Law Practicum, the Criminal Law Practicum, and the Juvenile Law Practicum. These courses were in response to a 1974 report that suggested that the clinics should have a more academic focus.
As a result, the college adopted a unique approach to clinical practice in law schools: clinic courses were co-taught by a tenure-track member of the law faculty, who was primarily (but not exclusively) responsible for a classroom component of the clinical experience, and a staff attorney, an experienced lawyer who was primarily (but again not exclusively) responsible for supervising students in their handling of live-client caseloads.
The classroom component functioned both as a forum for students to discuss the legal, tactical, strategic, and ethical components of their cases, and as a laboratory for students to learn skills through simulations and exercises.
The students, through their collaboration with the staff attorney on client representation, also had the opportunity for one-on-one instruction by an experienced lawyer. This arrangement has proved so successful that it remains the fundamental structure of many of the clinics at Moritz Law to this day.
In the mid 1970s, Professor Chuck Thompson became the director of the Clinical Program. He was a very strong proponent of clinical education and a real "character" as well. Except for court appearances, Thompson could always be found in blue jeans and motorcycle boots. He was an "upfront" sort of guy who rarely minced words, but who also cared deeply about his students and training them to be effective and ethical lawyers. Unfortunately, Thompson died of a heart attack in the early 1980s at the young age of 40.
Lou Jacobs first joined the Moritz Law faculty as a staff attorney. He retired as a full professor in 2003.
In 1978, James Meeks, then dean of the College of Law, appointed a special committee to study the clinic. The committee was charged to answer such questions as whether the clinic accounted for an inordinate portion of the college budget; whether clinic courses were felt to be worthwhile by alumni and students; why students chose to elect or not elect clinical courses; an analysis of the theoretical basis for clinical education; and whether the clinic should be integrated into other programs at the college. This committee presented its report to the faculty in May 1979.
The results of the report confirmed the place of the clinic in the College of Law and the popularity and value of the Clinical Program. The report concluded that the clinic did not represent an inordinate amount of the college's budget; in fact, the report strongly recommended the expansion in the number of clinical courses and their integration into a broader and enlarged skills curriculum, including trial advocacy, pretrial litigation, and other courses. It recommended additional clinical courses in such areas as commercial law and criminal prosecution.
The study fully endorsed the utilization of tenure-track faculty as clinical teachers as "a source of strength" in the clinic, which it said should be "continued and enhanced." It suggested greater efforts to inform students of the benefits and availability of clinical programs and concluded that, "clinical courses would be enhanced if they stood, not apart from the rest of the curriculum, but were made to be the culmination of a comprehensive and coordinated program dealing with practice and advocacy skills."
In sum, the college's first comprehensive look at the Clinical Program resulted in a ringing endorsement of its structure, function, and goals. Since the study, the college has acted on the recommendations and greatly expanded its clinical offerings as well as the other practice skills segments of the curriculum.
In 1978, Professor Charles "Chuck" Thompson assumed the directorship of the clinic. He quickly gained a reputation as someone who was committed to clinical education and who cared passionately about the rights of criminal defendants. Thompson was also known to the students and faculty as a "character" who wore Levis to class and loved motorcycles, jazz, and softball.
During Professor Thompson's term as director, several clinic cases reached the United States Supreme Court. The Civil Law Practicum worked on In the Matter of Subler (In Re Otis) in 1979, a case that involved a mother losing custody of her child without due process. In 1980, Jago v. Van Curen also reached the Supreme Court, but not before Judge Porter of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Ohio remarked on the high quality of the brief submitted by the OSU students. And Chapman v. Rhodes, a project of the Civil Law Practicum under Professor Lou Jacobs, was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981.
In 1980, the law school expanded the clinical curriculum by offering two half-year sections in which students assisted parolees who were reintegrating into the community. At the same time, practica were extended from 10 to 15 weeks. For the first time, video equipment was purchased by the Clinic so that students could enhance their interviewing and negotiating skills by viewing and critiquing their own performances.
Professor Thompson stepped down as director in 1982, and died unexpectedly one year later. He received a posthumous Outstanding Teacher Award from the Class of 1983.
Professor Rhonda Rivera became the clinic director in 1982. Under her guidance, the clinic was re-organized and the office was modernized. Even more importantly, the clinical curriculum expanded still further. At the beginning of her tenure as director, the clinical program consisted of four practica: Civil (previously known as Poverty Law), Criminal (which was exclusively criminal defense work), Juvenile, and Family Law. With Professor Rivera's encouragement and success in obtaining grants, two significant additions were made over the next few years: in 1983, Professor Nancy Rogers founded the Mediation Clinic, and the next year Professor Harriet Galvin and staff attorney Elizabeth established the Prosecution Practicum.
The Mediation Clinic marked a new trend for the clinic, since it was the first course to expose students to the skills of mediation. In fact, the Mediation Program was new not only to this university but also to the entire legal profession, so that course materials had to be created from scratch. Dean Jim Meeks conceived of the idea for such a program, and asked Professor Rogers to design it. The Mediation Program was composed of a Multi-Party Mediation Practicum and the Small Claims Practicum. The program was first headed by Professor Rogers (who is currently the Dean of the law school) and supervising attorney Carol O'Brien. At the time, the area was so new that a number of Moritz student course papers were published and contributed to the legal thinking about mediation. The Mediation Program was quite popular with students, and it was expanded in 1988.
The Prosecution Practicum was a change in direction for the clinic, since up until that time all criminal pratica were based on defense representation. Professor Lou Jacobs had assisted in the successful prosecution of a felony trial as a third-year law student and believed that such an opportunity would be welcomed by Ohio State law students. After the clinic was designed by Professor Galvin, Professor Jacobs and staff attorney Bob Krivoshey took over the class as co-teachers. One obstacle was that the cases could not come out of Franklin County because of conflicts of interest with the Criminal Defense practicum already operating there; luckily, Craig Mayton '80 was the Delaware city prosecutor in neighboring Delaware County and was happy to provide cases for the students. Under the student practice rule set out by the Ohio Supreme Court, students were allowed to represent the state of Ohio on any misdemeanor case, and in the first few years the case load consisted of a wide range of criminal activity: drunken driving, theft, bar fights, drug possession, public indecency, and domestic violence. Professor Krivoshey selected cases based on their instructional value and their likeliness of going to trial.
During the early 1980's, the clinical program also evolved in other ways. Trial Practice, Legal Negotiations and Pre-Litigation courses, which had been independent courses, were integrated into the clinic curriculum. The Labor Law Practicum, which had collaborated with the local Teamsters union for several years, was a grant-based practicum which ended when the grant expired. The Civil Liberties Practicum and the Consumer and Commercial Law Practicum were also removed from the curriculum during this period.
Professor Rivera stepped down as clinic director in 1986, and was replaced by Professor David Goldberger, who described the clinical programs as "one of the best structured legal clinic programs in the country." Under his leadership, the Clinic continued to expand into new areas. First, Professor Katherine Hunt Federle founded the Justice for Children Practicum in 1998, co-teaching the class with staff attorney Anita DiPasquale. The Practicum is part of the Justice for Children Project, which aims to explore the ways in which the law may be used to improve the experiences of children through direct legal representation of children in local courts and original research and writing in areas affecting children and families. The Practicum's interdisciplinary approach allows law students to collaborate with psychologists, social workers, and other professionals to further this goal.
In 1999, Ohio State Provost Richard Sisson, acting out of a "profound concern for the student body," approached the law school faculty about a program that could address the problems of student-tenants who are treated unfairly by landlords. The result was the Student Housing Clinic, which employed law students who assisted a clinic staff attorney. The Housing clinic was different from the rest of the Clinical Practica in that it did not include a classroom component. Nonetheless, because of the high volume of student housing cases, the Housing Clinic offered an abundance of hands-on experience to students. Katherine Wise '97 was the first director of the clinic; in 2004 Susan A. Choe '96 became the new director. Today, the Student Housing Clinic assists about 1,000 students per year, and has saved more than $300,000 for student-tenants since its founding.
In 2000 the law school created the Legislation Practicum at the suggestion of Professor Jim Brudney. The practicum was designed to allow students to work for a variety of institutions at the Ohio Statehouse, including the Legislative Service Commission, leadership caucuses, individual members of the General Assembly, and at other state government offices. Professor Steven F. Huefner served as the Practicum's first director, and Clinical Professor Terri Enns supervises the students' work.
The clinic also worked on a number of significant Supreme Court cases during Goldberger's tenure. In 1995, Professor Goldberger and clinic students briefed and argued McIntire v. Ohio Elections Commission, in which the Court ruled that the right to distribute anonymous campaign leaflets was protected by the Constitution. In 2005, clinic faculty and students brought Cutter v. Wilkinson to the Court, successfully representing prison inmates who were defending the constitutionality of a federal statute that protected their right to religious exercise.
The latest chapter in the history of the Moritz Legal Clinical Program occurred early in 2005, when Professor Greg Travalio took over the directorship of the program after having taught the Civil Law Practicum for many years. Today, the program stands out as one of the oldest programs of its kind, providing real litigation, mediation, and legislative experience to 60% of the Moritz student body.