FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2011
CONTACT: ERIKA MARZORATI
MSU Law Legal Clinic Shows Off New Facilities
East Lansing, MI — The Michigan State University College of Law Legal Clinic welcomed the community to learn more about its services and tour its new facilities at a public open house on Tuesday, April 19.
The Legal Clinic offers the opportunity for MSU Law students to work under close faculty supervision on real cases with clients from the local community. The clinic reopened at 610 Abbot Road in East Lansing in February, marking a new era in the program’s history.
MSU Law Dean Joan Howarth calls the move “an important next step” that will elevate the Law College’s clinical program. “I recommend that every law student take a clinical course and get a chance to serve the community in a world-class law office environment,” Howarth added.
The move came in a year already marked by exceptional growth and notable successes. In 2010, First Amendment law, immigration law, and plea and sentencing were added to a slate of programs that already included housing law, small business and nonprofit law, tax law, and the Chance at Childhood Clinic. A civil rights practice area that will work with prisoners is expected to open in the fall, and conservation law and other practice areas are on the horizon.
The Legal Clinic’s new building provides twice the square footage of its former location, while featuring two classrooms, seven client intake rooms, a supervised visitation room, and a Sparty-themed waiting area for children. Unlike the old facilities, where students and faculty were separated into different areas of the building, the new site’s integrated workspaces encourage collaboration across practice areas.
Professor Michele Halloran, director of clinical programs at MSU Law, commented on the clinic’s convenient location near downtown East Lansing, easy access to a bus line, and free parking for clients. “The new building in many respects makes the clinic more accessible to the public,” she noted.
The clinic’s commitment to service also is expanding to include clients who can’t come to them. Last fall, MSU College of Law purchased a used library bookmobile, which clinicians will take on the road to provide mobile legal services to the state’s migrant worker camps and rural regions.
As MSU Law’s roster of clinical offerings grows, so too does the impact students can have on clients and the community. Recent examples include:
- Plea and Sentencing student clinician Andrew VanVelzel, a second-year student, persuaded the circuit court to vacate a convicted defendant’s guilty plea, securing the client’s release from prison. Several of the clinic's cases currently are pending in the Michigan Supreme Court.
- The Immigration Law Clinic finished its first semester with 44 clients from 20 countries—a dramatic indication of the extreme need for services in the field. Students have dealt with victims of domestic violence and crimes, abandoned and trafficked children, asylum seekers, and more.
- Housing Law Clinic student Lara Miller, a third-year student, successfully defeated a motion to set aside a $20,250 default judgment that had been awarded to her client in a landlord–tenant conflict. Miller’s win marked the largest single-case monetary award in the program’s 13-year history.
- Tax Law Clinic student clinicians have persuaded the IRS to cancel more than $1,000,000 in taxpayer debt since the clinic opened 10 years ago. This past fall, third-year student Ryan Peruski convinced the IRS to settle his clients’ $100,000 debt for payment of less than $1,000.
The MSU College of Law Legal Clinic provides a high-energy, small law firm environment in which students apply their knowledge of the substantive law to real-life situations under the guidance and supervision of licensed attorneys. While discovering their niche in the field of law, student clinicians provide an important service for the betterment of the community.
Michigan State University College of Law, a leading institution of legal education with a long history of educating practice-ready attorneys, prepares future lawyers to use ethics, ambition, and intellect to solve the world’s problems. As one of only a few private law schools affiliated with a major research university, MSU Law offers comprehensive interdisciplinary opportunities combined with a personalized legal education. After 100 years as a private and independent institution, the affiliation with MSU has put the Law College on an upward trajectory of national and international reputation and reach. MSU Law professors are gifted teachers and distinguished scholars, its curriculum is rigorous and challenging, and its facility is equipped with the latest resources—all affirming MSU Law’s commitment to educating 21st-century lawyers.
320 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824