Students are offered a variety of opportunities through Drake Law School’s clinical programs and lawyering skills development courses:
Joan and Lyle Middleton Center for Children's Rights ClinicPrerequisite: Children & the Law (LAW 280). Two semester commitment.
This program allows students to experience hands-on work in the area of juvenile law. Students act as guardians ad litem representing abused and neglected children in juvenile court proceedings. They also represent juveniles in deliquency proceedings. Students gather facts, draft legal documents, advocate for their clients, and participate in court hearings. In addition, students attend weekly classes and case reviews. Students are required to take the clinic for two semesters so that the children they represent experience continuity. This clinic is interdisciplinary, involving a graduate social worker and graduate education students. Limited to students in their third year of law school who are eligible to receive a student practice license.
Criminal Defense Clinic
This program allows students to experience criminal law work. Students begin by representing clients through the arraignment process, then over the semester, advance to representing clients in hearings, depositions, negotiations and trials, including possible jury trials. As with other clinical programs, student attorneys have primary responsibility for their clients. In addition, students participate in weekly classes and case rounds. Limited to students who have completed three semesters or more of law school and are eligible to receive a student practice license.
Advanced Criminal Defense Clinic - Trial
This clinical program offers students the opportunity to explore criminal defense in depth. Students represent clients charged with simple, serious and aggravated misdemeanors. Charges typically handled by student attorney’s fall into five general categories: crimes against persons; crimes against property; motor vehicle offenses; drug offenses; and other offenses including child endangerment, prostitution, perjury and carrying weapons. Students may also serve as second chair in a limited number of felony cases.
Elder Law ClinicPre-Requsite: Law 223 Wills & Trusts beginning with the Spring 2013 Elder Clinic
Students enrolled in this program represent senior citizens with the goal of developing their general practice skills in this growing field. Typical cases include court and administrative proceedings. Students draft documents, such as powers of attorney and living wills, assist clients who have been the victims of financial or physical exploitation, and represent clients in a variety of forums. Priority cases handled by this clinic include elder abuse, nursing home issues, guardianships, consumer fraud and financial mistreatment.
First-Year Trial Practicum
The trial practicum adds an important experiential learning dimension to the first-year curriculum. Students observe a real jury trial in its entirety, which serves as an educational introduction to litigation and trial practice. The trial takes place in the courtroom of the Neal and Bea Smith Law Center. A combination of small group discussions, practice panels, lectures and debriefings with litigants and jurors allow students to witness the integration of legal theory and law practice.
General Civil Practice Clinic
In this clinical program, students represent clients who could not otherwise afford legal assistance. Clinic student attorneys take primary responsibility for their clients in cases involving civil matters. They conduct intakes, interviews and fact investigations; draft legal documents; handle negotiations; and represent clients in court hearings and trials, including jury trials. In addition, students participate in case selection and in weekly classes. Students also are required to attend a two-day, pre-semester orientation. Limited to students who have completed three semesters or more of law school and are eligible to receive a student practice license.
Advanced General Civil Practice Clinic
This course would differ from the General Practice Clinic in that each student would be assigned cases most likely to go to trial. In such cases, the advanced student would be the lead student attorney and a new general practice clinic student would second chair the trial. Students must have completed an entry level clinic course and have permission of the instructor.
Income Tax ClinicPrerequisite: Federal Income Tax (Law 208)
Students will interview clients, analyze problems, work with the IRS and IA Department of Revenue and have the opportunity to appear before the tax court to litigate cases that are not settled. Issues include innocent spouse, non-filers, appeals, collective alternatives, offers in compromise, etc.
Juvenile Delinquency Clinic
Law students will represent youth charged in juvenile court with delinquent acts. Students will represent youth in informal adjustments, detention hearings, adjudicatory hearings (trials) and dispositional hearings (sentencing). The clinic includes a classroom component twice per week focusing on the procedural, constitutional, and statutory rules relating to youth charged as delinquents.
Legislative Initiatives Program
Through the Middleton Center’s legislative program, students assist in developing laws relating to children and families. Each year, prominent members of the child welfare community meet with students and faculty to discuss the most pressing legislative concerns of the child welfare community and decide on a legislative agenda to advance. Law students then research the issues, draft legislation and lobby for its passage. In addition, the Center monitors child-related legislative issues, provides information on these issues to the child welfare community and the public, and tracks votes taken on child-welfare bills.
Transactional ClinicPrerequisite: Business Associations (Law 204)
Students enrolled in this clinic will provide comprehensive legal services to entrepreneurs intending to start or already operating a for-profit or non-profit organization, including business formation and non-profit IRS filings, contract review, negotiation and formation, financing agreements, lease agreements, real estate purchase agreements, sales contracts, vendor agreements, dealer/distributorship agreements, retail trade agreements, copyright and trademark applications and licensing agreements, permitting and licensing agreements and other governmental regulatory compliance, interviewing and counseling clients, employment manuals and policies or agreements and other commercial transactional agreements.
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Other Lawyering Skills Courses
Students serve as judicial law clerks or as interns with public officials in a faculty-supervised program. Summer placement with federal and state judges, in other jurisdictions as well as in Iowa, is frequently arranged. Placement is at the discretion of the faculty supervisor after the student has completed not fewer than 30 hours of law school work with a minimum 2.3 cumulative grade point average.
These positions allow students to practice with government agencies in environmental, legislative, probate, administrative, securities and insurance law, as well as in the U.S. Attorney’s office and federal public defender’s offices. Students in the prosecutor internship program regularly try cases and gain jury trial experience.
Appellate advocacy - highlighted by Drake’s long-standing and successful participation in moot court competitions - has long been a cornerstone of the law school’s skills training. In addition, students may join counseling, mediation, negotiation and trial teams.
Many of Drake Law School's courses focus on specific lawyering skills, such as criminal defense, general civil practice, children's rights, contract drafting, domestic violence immigration, elder law, employment discrimination litigation, environmental practice, estate planning, evidentary suppression motions, income tax, legal interviewing and counseling, legislative practice, will drafting, interviewing and counseling
and appellate advocacy
. In addition, Drake offers simulation courses in specialized topics, such as evidentiary suppression motions
, business reorganization
, environmental litigation
, estate planning
and other substantive courses. Students also can join one of two local chapters of the Inns of Court to improve their skills and heighten their professionalism.
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