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Housing Law Clinic Information for Students

Welcome to the Housing Law Clinic (PowerPoint)

Welcome to the Housing Law Clinic. While working at the Clinic, you will provide free legal assistance to low-income rental housing clients in the greater Lansing area of Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton Counties, under the supervision of full-time faculty. You will assume full responsibility for handling individual client cases – from the initial interview through settlement or court trial. Although your supervising attorney will provide you with guidance and support, you will be your client's primary legal representative.

The Housing Law Clinic I course covers the basics of Landlord-Tenant law, including creation of a tenancy, the rights and duties of the parties, leases, violations of leases, termination of leases, and eviction. The course also covers the litigation process as it relates to Landlord-Tenant law. Students will be assigned actual clients with rental housing problems and will, with supervision, act as legal counsel for these clients. Representation may include dispute resolution, mediation, or litigation depending on the particulars of each individual case. Your caseload this semester will be intense, challenging, and rewarding. Students are required to work on site at the Clinic offices 12 hours each week. The student's performance will be letter graded.

The Housing Law Clinic II course will provide an opportunity to continue the live-client representation. The course will allow for more sophisticated lawyering. It will also allow for mentoring of students in Housing Clinic I. Enrollment in this course is by invitation only.

The Clinical Approach

Our objective is to help you become "practice-ready" by translating your traditional classroom learning into practical application. In addition, we expect you to develop your own abilities to be self-reflective and thus to enrich your own understanding of the multi-dimensional aspects of becoming a responsible, effective, and ethical lawyer. We therefore spend more time on preparing cases, providing supervising attorney critiques, and addressing underlying issues than generally may be spent in other practice settings.

All aspects of your handling of cases will be closely supervised by the Clinic's faculty. There will be preparatory classroom instruction and opportunities for collaboration with fellow students, Clinic II mentors, and Clinic supervisors. We expect you to prepare thoroughly so that you are in a position to provide high quality representation to your clients. We also expect you to be reflective and to use your clinical experiences to broaden and deepen your insight and awareness about the process of being an attorney. The readings, classroom discussions, and writing assignments are intended to help you consciously and critically address important themes that affect the practice of law. We believe that a multi-level approach to clinical legal education is likely to best prepare you to learn continually from future activities as a lawyer and to help you make satisfying and responsible career choices.

Student Practice Court Rule. The Housing Law Clinic is a legal aid clinic organized under Michigan State University College of Law. Students who are currently enrolled in law school, who have successfully completed their first-year courses, who meet the academic and moral standards established by the Dean, and who are supervised by members in good standing of the Michigan State Bar are able to provide legal representation to indigent persons and make court appearances as permitted by the court rules. MCR 8.120.

Clinic Office Hours: You are required to schedule at least six (6) hours during the time the Clinic is open to the public: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. During this time period you will be expected to take incoming calls, meet with walk-in clients, and schedule your appointments with your clients. If you will not be in at your scheduled time it is important that you call in advance, as appointments will have been scheduled for you in anticipation of your attendance. You should also call the Clinic on a daily basis to retrieve any client messages that you receive.

Additionally, when there are not calls, appointments, or walk-in clients, the balance of scheduled Clinic hours are to be spent on your factual investigation, legal research, memos, and case/client related activities. As your casework will require, you are expected to perform further research of both law and procedure in this area of practice.

You will find that as your mediations, case evaluations, and trials become imminent, you may also have to spend considerably more time on your file - either at home or in the Clinic setting.

Housing Law Clinic I Requirements

As a student resident clinician in the Housing Law Clinic I course, you are expected to:

  • Attend classroom instruction and Case Round Sessions, in addition to office hours at the Clinic. This formal instruction is provided to give you an overview of the law and procedure pertaining to Landlord-Tenant practice, as well as the basics for file management and client counseling. As your casework will require, you are expected to perform further research of both law and procedure in this area of practice.
  • Maintain office hours at the Clinic. Pick time slots totaling 12 hours each week. At least six (6) of these hours must be between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Hours must be scheduled in increments of at least two (2) hours.
  • Represent clients throughout the semester.
  • Prepare and present assigned course materials for class and community education programs.
  • Meet with the supervising faculty 30 minutes each week to report progress or problems on your casework. You can go over your most recent Weekly Update Memo with your supervisor at this meeting.
  • Participate in client development and community outreach activities, which may include work with community groups and the Law School's Director of Marketing and Communications.

Housing Law Clinic II Requirements

As a student resident clinician in the Housing Law Clinic II course, you are expected to:

  • Immediately assume responsibility for continued casework and new files throughout the semester.
  • Mentor the Clinic I student resident clinicians by assisting them with file management, office procedures, and equipment. You also may be asked by the supervising faculty to give guidance on casework.
  • Meet with the supervising faculty 30 minutes each week to report progress or problems on your casework. You can go over your most recent Weekly Update Memo with your supervisor at this meeting.
  • Maintain office hours at the Clinic, 12 hours per week. At least six (6) hours must be between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Hours must be scheduled in increments of at least two (2) hours. Although you are not required to do so, it would be beneficial if you could schedule hours for Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. so that you can assist in your Clinic II mentoring requirement during Case Round Sessions.
  • Represent clients throughout the semester.
  • Prepare and present assigned course materials for class and community education programs.
  • Participate in client development and community outreach activities, which may include work with community groups and the Law School's Director of Marketing and Communications.

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