Clinical Education

Law professor Nekima Levy-Pounds laughs as she stages a scene with students during clinical rounds April 8, 2014 at the Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services.

At the University of St. Thomas School of Law, we’re proud to be the top law school in the upper Midwest for clinical training and the #3 law school in the nation for practical training. We’ve grown our clinical offerings by nearly 300% since 2010, empowering 60% of our students to enroll in at least one live-client clinical course. 

Our Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services is among the first of its kind in the country through which faculty and students from the disciplines of law, psychology, and social work collaborate to help clients in need.

In the Center, law students frequently work side-by-side with students from the University of St. Thomas School of Social Work and Graduate School of Psychology. Under the guidance of the Center faculty, law students provide representation and assistance to the underserved populations of the Twin Cities on problems ranging from health care issues to political asylum to issues of social justice.

Clinics Include: 

Appellate Clinics (Federal Appellate and Immigration Appellate)
Students brief and argue appellate cases representing a client pro bono under faculty supervision. The Appellate Clinic is a year-long course for three credits, which will also satisfy the upper level writing requirement. In addition to representation, the classroom component involves studying written and oral advocacy, appellate courts, appellate jurisdiction, and the rules of appellate procedure. The Appellate Clinic will be offered in those years in which we are able to identify a suitable pro bono case. (3 credits over 2 semesters)

Bankruptcy Litigation Clinic
The Bankruptcy Litigation Clinic involves representing an indigent party in Federal Bankruptcy Court.  Students will handle cases from beginning to end.  The student may draft a complaint, answer, conduct discovery, participate in motion practice, and finally, defend the client at the trial.  Typical cases involve representing either a debtor who has been sued for a denial of discharge, or representing a creditor to have one or more of the creditor's claims declared non-dischargeable. (3 credits, 2 semesters)

Community Justice Project
The Community Justice Project focuses on bridge building with community stakeholders and problem solving in distressed communities. The Community Justice Project will take a comprehensive look at improving the lives of the African American community in the Twin Cities. The CJP has engaged in intensive research into practical solutions to longstanding challenges such as racial disparities in the criminal justice system, police brutality, and racial disparities in the educational and juvenile justice systems for at-risk youth. (6 credits, 1 semester)

Consumer Bankruptcy Clinic
The Bankruptcy Clinic serves individuals involved in bankruptcy who cannot afford a lawyer. Students learn the practical application of bankruptcy case law. Clients can also receive therapy and case management, to help them deal with emotional, psychological and relational issues connected to bankruptcy. This course will be taught by our adjunct faculty from Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLC. (3 credits, 1 semester)

Elder Law Practice Group
The Elder Law Practice Group provides high quality legal services for seniors with problems related to long-term care and financial abuse and exploitation. Collaborative social work services play an essential role in resolving the clients’ legal cases, as well as addressing other major quality-of-life issues. The most typical case this practice group addresses is one where a nursing home resident has been given a notice of involuntary transfer because of a failure to pay what the nursing home claims is owed. (6 credits, 1 semester)

Federal Commutations Clinic
The first of its kind in the country, the Federal Commutations Clinic explores issues of commutation and looks particularly at cases when students may assist individuals seeking a commutation of sentence. Students investigate requests for assistance, analyze the merits of cases, and make recommendations about whether or not to pursue a particular case. Participation in the Federal Commutations clinic is likely to involve travel to federal penitentiaries. (2 credits, 2 semesters)

Immigration Law Practice Group
Students in the Immigration Law Practice Group will represent immigrants seeking to improve legal status in the United States. Students in this practice group may represent persons seeking asylum in the United States as a result of persecution or a fear of persecution in their home countries; provide representation for individuals at Detained Master Calendar Hearings, and participate in immigrant related advocacy projects on behalf of community organizations. (6 credits, 1 semester)

Misdemeanor Clinic
Offered for the first time in spring 2013, UST School of Law students will represent criminal misdemeanor defendants in a Twin Cities metropolitan county under the supervision of public defenders and a UST School of Law professor. (4 credits, one semester)

Nonprofit Organizations Clinic
Offered for the first time during the 2012-13 academic year, the nonprofit clinical course focuses on the legal needs of existing or aspiring nonprofits that originate from law students at the law school. This course is designed to help nonprofit organizations get off the ground and sustain themselves as they promote social and economic justice here and abroad. Students who take this class are likely to volunteer for nonprofit organizations and serve on their boards, promoting servant leadership and social justice. (3 credits, 2 semesters)

Religious Liberty Appellate Clinic
Offered for the first time in spring 2014, this clinical course will give a small number of students each semester the opportunity to write appellate briefs, primarily amicus curiae briefs, in cases involving religious liberty, rights of conscience more generally, and selected issues involving the protection of human life. The primary clients will be one or two organizations that file briefs regularly in appellate cases. Each student should expect to draft at least one appellate brief and, depending on workload, other written work product. Through readings as well as practice, students will learn basic principles of religious liberty, conscience protection, and appellate writing, including attention to the distinctive strategic issues in drafting amicus briefs.

Top Rankings

  • #1 in U.S. for externships (The National Jurist, 2013)
  • #1 in Upper Midwest for clinical training (U.S. News and World Report, 2016)
  • #1 private law school in Minnesota (U.S. News and World Report, 2016)
  • #1 private law school in Minnesota for employment (ABA Summary Reports, 2015) 
  • #3 in U.S. for practical training (The National Jurist, 2015)
  • #4 in U.S. for quality of life (The Princeton Review, 2014)
  • #8 in U.S. for best professors (The Princeton Review, 2014)

Searching for Home

Harriet Oyera, a client of the University of St. Thomas School of Law Immigration Clinic

A family finds asylum with the help of the Immigration Clinic.

A Shorter Sentence

Federal Commutations Clinic Image

In the Commutations Clinic, students learn the real, hard work it takes to temper justice with mercy.

The Defenders

2013 Misdemeanor Clinic image

Students gain valuable courtroom experience in Misdemeanor Clinic.

Back From the Brink

2013 Bankruptcy Clinic image

Bankruptcy clinics help people find a fresh start.