As part of Suffolk's robust experiential learning offerings, the in-house clinics provide students the opportunity to learn best practices in all aspects of client representation under the close supervision of our nationally ranked clinical law faculty. From representing young people facing suspension from school to helping microenterprises fight “corporate bullying,” students in the clinics help solve real world problems for clients who would otherwise go unrepresented.
Each of the in-house clinics trains students to be practice-ready by teaching key legal skills in the context of a real world client/problem; asking students to consistently reflect on their performance; and documenting improvements in skills over time. This reflective process allows students to move from learning the law to doing the law and doing it well. By the end of the year, students in every clinic have interviewed and counseled clients, engaged in strategic decision making and advocated for their clients’ interests. It’s what makes clinic alumni consistently say that their clinic was the best experience they had in law school.
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Clinical Program Facts and History
To be eligible to enroll in most in-house clinics, students must be in their last two years of law school. Suffolk Defenders and Suffolk Prosecutors are only open to students in their final year.
In addition, students must be eligible to be certified as student practitioners pursuant to Rule 3:03 of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”). Suffolk has adopted this rule and requires that all students applying for a clinic be both:
- In good academic standing at time of application and when the clinic begins; and
- Have successfully completed Evidence. Successful completion means that a student has received a satisfactory grade.
Students with questions about good academic standing or satisfactory grades should consult with the Dean of Students.
- No more than 12 experiential credits may be accumulated by any student.
Students who accept a slot in the in-house clinics must commit to being in the clinic for a full academic year. (10 credits) Partial credit is not available. Students interested in a one-semester experience can explore the various externship offering.
Students receive one letter grade at the end of the academic year which is the grade for the full 10 credits of the clinic. Clinical faculty will provide a verbal evaluation at the end of the first semester and a written evaluation at the end of the academic year based on detailed grading criteria.
Students enrolled in an in-house clinic have a total credit limit of 15 credit hours. Overloads are not allowed due to the time demands involved in the clinics.
The time commitment for the clinics includes:
- a weekly clinic seminar that focus on lawyering skills and ethics;
- a weekly supervision meeting that focuses on professional development and case strategy;
- at least 13 hours a week of field work (please note that 13 hours a week is the minimum number of hours required and students should consult relevant clinical faculty about the average number of hours required)
While regular feedback and supervision is offered, students are expected to be self-directed in their learning.
As further detailed in the grading criteria, clinic students are expected to demonstrate the following by the end of the academic year:
- professional habits and judgment,
- an understanding of ethical obligations,
- fundamental lawyering skills and values,
- critical thinking,
- cross-cultural competence, including client-centered lawyering, listening and non-legal language skills.
There is a uniform application for the in-house clinics and the Suffolk Prosecutors program. The specific programs associated with the uniform application are listed on that form, which will be available as a link on this website in the month of February. The application requires that students complete a series of short answer questions and attach a current resume and transcript (unofficial is fine).
The application becomes available in the beginning of February and will be on the Clinical webpage here. Late applications are reviewed only after all other applications are considered. Applications must be submitted online using the online application. Paper applications will not be accepted. Please do not email the application directly to any clinic director or to clinic staff.
The in-house clinics and the Prosecutors Program select students based on a student’s overall application, including the statement of interest, review of a student’s transcript, resume, and prior experience. In some cases, preference in these programs is also given to students with relevant foreign language fluency or completion of relevant courses. Some programs require an interview prior to acceptance. Please refer to the Clinical Programs Frequently Asked Questions (available online and in the Clinical Programs office) for more details on the application process and the section referencing important dates. There is an Informational Session around the time the application becomes available in February. Clinical faculty and current students will be available to assist with questions.
Some students may be selected for interviews with a clinic director. Interviews are conducted at the discretion of individual directors and students will be contacted if an interview is required. All interviews will be conducted in March. Please do not contact clinical faculty or staff regarding interviews.
Results of the selection process will be mailed to students prior to early registration. Students will receive an email confirming status of their application. Students must respond to the offer of placement in an in-house clinic. Subsequent withdrawal from an can result in students being barred from participation in other externship programs. Thus, it is vital that students speak with all relevant faculty about their goals and plans.Students applying using the uniform application are reminded that they may not simultaneously apply to the Civil and Judicial Externship Program. Students should, however, contact Professor Bernadette Feeley if they are simultaneously interested in the Civil and Judicial Externship Program and one of the programs on the uniform application. Failure to apprise Professor Feeley can result in students being barred from participation in that program (i.e., if a student is placed in another externship and then withdraws, that student is not eligible for another externship or in-house clinic in that semester.)
Conflict of Interest
Conflicts of Interest
Students are ineligible for clinical programs if their employment presents an actual conflict of interest with any of the in-house clinics. Because the in-house clinics are viewed as a single law firm, students who are engaged in employment that conflicts with the clients of any of the clinics are disqualified under Mass R. Prof. C. 1.7 and 1.10.
Clinical Programs Facts and History
Suffolk’s first clinical programs included the Suffolk Defenders, Prosecutors and Family Advocacy. As an extension of the law school's mission to work with marginalized communities, these programs were founded by faculty and lawyers committed to working with students to reach the most vulnerable clients.
As early as 1972, Suffolk Law students were representing defendants in criminal courts and parties to divorces. Soon after, Suffolk Prosecutors began sending students to work with the district attorney’s offices around the Boston area.
More than 40 years later, the program boasts eight experiential learning opportunities, as well as externships in New England, and internships in the U.S. and abroad. Its commitment to excellence has earned Top 30 rankings in US News & World Report since 2009. In 2017, Suffolk Law's clinics were ranked 27th.