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Information for Students

Welcome to the Urban Food, Farm & Agriculture Law Practicum! While working as part of the Practicum, you will provide free legal assistance under the supervision of full-time faculty to a variety of entities or projects affiliated with urban agricultural endeavors, primarily in Detroit, Michigan, but potentially at other Michigan sites. In addition, you may be assigned to other diverse projects involving policy or research matters relating to the law of urban agriculture. You will assume full responsibility for projects assigned to you, as well as for handling all aspects of matters for those whom the Practicum takes on as clients. Although your supervising attorney will provide you with guidance and support, you will be your clients’ primary legal representative.

The Urban Food, Farm & Agriculture Law Practicum course covers a variety of aspects of the law pertinent to urban agricultural needs, including substantive agricultural and marketing issues, strategy development, and collective reflection on undertaken projects. Coursework also will address a variety of practice matters inclusive of case management, client interviewing, dispute resolution, and professional responsibility. Students enrolled in the Practicum are required to devote 168 hours to their client/project work during the semester, exclusive of class time. Students receive a letter grade indicative of their performance in the Practicum.

The Approach of the Practicum

A primary objective of the Practicum is to assist you in becoming "practice-ready" by the conclusion of the semester by translating your traditional classroom learning into practical application. We expect that this course will promote development of your ability to be self-reflective about your work, and thus will greatly enrich your understanding of the multi-dimensional aspects of becoming a responsible, effective, ethical lawyer. You can anticipate that we will spend significant time supervising your work, evaluating and critiquing work you have accomplished, and collaborating with you to develop effective client/project strategies.

All aspects of your work will be closely supervised by the Practicum’s faculty. There will be preparatory classroom instruction and opportunities for collaboration with fellow students and your supervisors. We expect you to prepare thoroughly – whether this involves preparation for classroom instruction or independent preparation for a client or project assigned to you – so that you can provide high quality representation to your clients or produce an excellent project result. We expect you to be reflective and to use your clinical experiences to broaden and deepen your insight into, and awareness about, the process of being an attorney. Readings, classroom discussions, and writing assignments are intended to help you consciously and critically address important themes that affect both urban agriculture law and, in general, the practice of law. We believe that a multi-level approach to clinical legal education best prepares you to learn continually from future activities as a lawyer and helps you make satisfying and responsible career choices.

Student Practice Court Rule. The Urban Food, Farm & Agriculture Law Practicum 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: “Office hours” for the Practicum are determined on a case-by-case basis by your supervisor, depending on the nature of your project, or the extent of your client representation. In addition, the location of “office hours” is established by the Practicum supervisor after consultation with you. 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.

Urban Food, Farm & Agriculture Law Practicum Requirements

As a student enrolled in the Practicum, you are expected to:

  • Attend classroom instruction, case round sessions, and “office hours” established by the Practicum’s supervisors. The instruction provides an overview of the law pertinent to urban agriculture and focuses as well on practice basics, such as file management, client interviewing, dispute resolution, and client counseling
  • Maintain “office hours” in amounts and at locations designated by the Practicum supervisor
  • Represent clients or complete assigned projects throughout the semester
  • Prepare assigned course materials for class and community education programs; prepare written materials as directed by the Practicum supervisor
  • Meet with the supervising faculty 30 minutes every two weeks to report progress or problems with your casework/project assignments
  • Participate in client development and community outreach activities
  • See syllabus (PDF) for additional requirements

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