A Unique Combination of Theory and Practice
The Clinical Programs at the Moritz College of Law provide an approach to clinical education that is distinctive among American law schools. Since 1935, faculty members of the College have recognized that problem-solving, factual investigation, counseling, negotiation, and litigation skills are best learned by combining the actual practice of law, in which J.D. students take responsibility for their own cases, with an intensive academic experience in the classroom. Moritz typically conducts each of these clinics with a two-person faculty team. The teams both provide expertise in the theory and doctrine of a particular area of law and help students develop hands-on legal experience. Under the guidance and mentoring of this faculty team, law students get a taste of the satisfactions and challenges of a legal career.
The American Bar Association recognizes that clinical programs are an essential component of legal education. Our graduates realize that, too. When polled about the value of these practical classes, more than two-thirds of Moritz alumni recommended that all law students take at least one clinical course. Likewise, employers value the practical training clinic graduates bring with them to the practice of law.
Moritz students may begin taking clinical courses in their second year. In the Mediation Clinic, they serve as court-appointed mediators in pending cases, helping parties resolve cases ranging from back pay demanded by immigrant workers to child care disputes between divorcing parents. Another option for second-year students is the Legislation Clinic, in which they work with leaders of the Ohio General Assembly and other key legislative players, assisting them with research, analysis, and monitoring of the lawmaking process.
Third-year students may enroll in courses that permit them to represent clients under the supervision of Moritz faculty. Students may choose from the Mediation and Legislation clinics as well as from four litigation clinics: Civil, Criminal Prosecution, Criminal Defense, and Justice for Children. Finally, third-year students also may sign up for the Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic, in which they provide transactional legal assistance to startup businesses.
In recent years, students in these clinics have represented clients in both federal and state cases. Two of the cases in the Civil Clinic have gone to the U.S. Supreme Court, and clinic students have been crucial in preparing briefs and arguments. Another case involved a five-day jury trial in federal court, tried almost entirely by Moritz students. In the Criminal Defense and Prosecution clinics, students regularly appear in local courts in misdemeanor cases, learning how to prepare witnesses, negotiate plea bargains, and try criminal cases.
Students in the Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic interview and provide recommendations and work product to early-stage businesses that plan to launch the founders' startup idea into a legal entity prepared for due diligence and a first capital raise.