FAQs for prospective students
What kind of work can students expect to do while participating in the clinic?
The Clinic offers participating students real experience representing a diverse group of clients in a wide range of legal disputes. A few recent client matters include: representing an inmate seeking an accommodation for religious clothing; providing legal advice to a non-profit organization about the scope of religious freedom protections for their ministry to the homeless; assisting an inmate denied a spiritual advisor in the execution chamber; representing a historically Black church against a city’s attempt to take their land; advising Muslim groups denied the ability to travel overseas for religious training; and assisting a member of the armed forces to become a chaplain.Back to top
Are the cases litigation focused or transactional? Will I be in court at all?
The Clinic’s work involves agency, trial, and appellate practice. Students work on whatever their matters require. This may include investigating facts, drafting complaints, appearing in court or before government agencies, traveling, and writing motions or briefs. Students also get the opportunity to counsel with their clients to help achieve the client’s objectives. In addition to more traditional litigation work, students may also work on non-litigation projects like drafting white papers or advising on other matters.Back to top
How many cases should I expect to handle during the semester?
The demands of your cases will determine how many you may work on throughout the semester. Many students work on at least two, but the complexity and procedural posture of the various live cases inform this more than anything else.Back to top
Do I need to have any substantive knowledge of religious liberty doctrine before joining the clinic? Do you recommend taking a substantive class before applying?
You do not need any substantive knowledge of religious liberty doctrine, although showing a previous interest in the subject may help in your being admitted to the clinic. You do not need a substantive class before applying. The seminar portion of the class is designed to be a comprehensive survey of the law regarding the free exercise of religion, anti-establishment principles, church autonomy, religious discrimination, etc. Some students have had previous substantive classes; others have not.Back to top
What are the expectations/goals of the Law & Religion Clinic?
The chief goal is to teach you the art and skills of the legal profession through your active involvement in real religion-related matters. We will study and experience what lawyers do and what is expected of them, explore how to approach and handle various legal (and non-legal) problems, and engage in concrete and reflective opportunities to develop transferrable professional skills and habits through client-centered service.
You will receive supervision and mentoring, but you will also take the lead on all projects. In short, you will be practitioners in a teaching law office.
In addition to professional skills and habits, one goal is to foster in you an appreciation for the vital role religious liberty plays in our society. Through your matters and the readings we study, you will come to understand the diverse personal, cultural, and legal circumstances where religious freedom is exercised by people and communities in the course of everyday life. We will study and apply laws protecting religious belief and practice. We will also explore legitimate countervailing interests reflected in those laws and in reality. In all things, we will serve our clients and the public with integrity and a mature sensitivity to the (often deeply personal) issues involved.Back to top