Neal & Bea Smith Legal Clinic
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Our mission at the Drake Legal Clinic is to provide an exceptional learning experience for students, applying their legal education to the representation of clients in a first-class clinical setting. We ensure that our students have an understanding of and respect for the cultural and social differences of others. We instill in our students the highest professional and ethical standards as well as a commitment to ensuring meaningful access to justice for all.

About the Center

Drake Law School’s clinical programs allow students to build valuable professional experience by applying classroom knowledge to work-world situations. Working with real clients with real legal problems, students apply classroom theory to actual cases; sort through and analyze complex information; develop interviewing and other interpersonal communication skills; research possible solutions; develop advocacy strategies; negotiate and mediate; and act in the best interests of their clients. Working in a teaching law firm, students discover the benefits of assisting those who might not otherwise have access to legal assistance while becoming competent and self-confident professionals. Effective participation in a clinical program demonstrates to prospective employers that a student has capably handled a variety of cases and will “hit the ground running” when it comes to practicing law.  Drake Law School ranks second in the nation as "Best in Practical Training" according to National Jurist magazine.

In fall 2001, the clinic added the Joan and Lyle Middleton Center for Children’s Rights to its operations. In addition to a $1 million gift from Joan and Lyle Middleton, the Center receives funding from the Court Improvement Project. Law students in the Center’s clinical program represent children and handle abuse, neglect and termination of parental rights cases under faculty supervision. The Center also includes a resource center and a training center that educates lawyers, judges, social workers and others in various aspects of children’s rights law.

Law students who have successfully completed the equivalent of three semesters of law school may apply for an Iowa student practice license. Once admitted under the state’s student practice rule, participants in clinic programs are permitted, under faculty supervision, to appear as counsel on civil and misdemeanor criminal matters, and to represent clients in matters before the Iowa Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court of Iowa.

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The Neal and Bea Smith Law Center, a 40,000-square-foot, fully computerized facility, houses the law school’s clinical programs and the Center for Public Service Attorneys. Noted for its stunning architecture, the building includes classrooms, conference rooms, offices, a library, courtroom and atrium.

The Legal Clinic courtroom, used within our teaching law firm for a variety of educational purposes, is also available for Iowa district court hearings, which are typically open for student observation. Engineered for the electronic presentation of trials, the courtroom has videotaping and playback capabilities, as well as broadcast options for multiple screens. An outlet is available at every seat to accommodate the use of laptop computers. An ELMO Visual Presenter is available for document broadcasting within the courtroom, which also allows for private projection to be fed directly to the judge or counsel’s computer.

The Drake Legal Clinic is supported by a $4.5 million federally funded endowment that ensures continued service to students and the community.

The Neal and Bea Smith Law Center is located at 24th Street and University Avenue.
The clinic phone number is 271-3851.

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Last Modified: 3/6/2014 3:41:00 PM by Ann Van Hemert