Legal Services Practicum
This course offers students a great opportunity to help indigent clients and to learn important legal skills under the close supervision of experienced attorneys at Neighborhood Legal Services Association. Students will work on cases involving poverty law issues such as eviction, expungement of criminal records, and a few student opportunities will be available for handling protection from abuse cases. There is a preference for students who are available any mornings between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. to maximize the likelihood of getting court experience.
The classroom component will focus on various substantive and procedural poverty law issues, on ethical considerations, and on legal skills — such as interviewing, counseling, fact-gathering, legal analysis, negotiation, research, drafting, and litigation — critical to legal practice. Classroom instruction will include simulation exercises that will be helpful for developing needed legal skills. The field component will focus on advising and representing indigent clients at District Judge hearings and the Arbitration Division in landlord-tenant and wage claims cases and presenting expungement petitions in Common Pleas Court. Students may also present motions in Motions Court. A few students will assist staff attorneys with Protection from Abuse cases. Field assignments will be available in Pittsburgh.
All students will be required to participate in a mandatory morning site visit to NLSA’s Pittsburgh office on the Saturday before the start of the semester for additional substantive training. Office procedures and case assignment processes will be reviewed. This is an excellent opportunity for students to gain experience in advising and representing clients and in working with other students and attorneys to resolve legal issues through negotiation.
Most students will be able to complete the field component before final exams.