First Amendment Clinic

Illinois Law student presents at moot court

About the Clinic

The mission of the Clinic is to support freedom of expression and civic engagement by enhancing law students’ understanding of the First Amendment and providing a resource for organizations, students, journalists, and citizens defending and advancing First Amendment protections. Students in the First Amendment Clinic represent clients under the supervision of an experienced attorney; however, students are responsible for all aspects of the legal representation of their clients. Representation may include client interviewing, case evaluation and research, motion practice and brief writing, drafting pleadings and discovery requests, taking and defending depositions, participating in discovery and settlement conferences, negotiating with opposing parties, identifying and coordinating with experts, and oral advocacy during court appearances.

Concurrent with their casework, students will learn the substantive and procedural areas of First Amendment Law and civil practice. In addition, First Amendment Clinic students represent clients across the political spectrum, upholding our commitment to advance the freedoms of speech, press and assembly for both groups and individuals.

Clinic Faculty


Lena Shapiro

Assistant Clinical Professor

First Amendment Clinic Director



Professor Shapiro joined the University of Illinois College of Law faculty in Spring 2023 to direct the First Amendment Clinic. Prior to joining the University of Illinois, she was in private practice representing clients in a variety of commercial, intellectual property, and information privacy disputes. Read more about Professor Shapiro.

“Students of the First Amendment Clinic are not only learning the nuances of First Amendment Law, they are also living it by representing clients across the political spectrum, engaging in comprehensive legal representation, and grappling with real-world challenges. From interviewing clients to advocating in court, every step is a step towards not only their personal development as legal practitioners, but also towards upholding the freedoms of speech, press and assembly. Our mission goes beyond imparting knowledge; we strive to cultivate lawyers who will carry forward the torch of First Amendment protections in their future practice.”

-Lena Shapiro

For Prospective Clients

Whether you are seeking legal representation or have a general question, the First Amendment Clinic may be able to help. Please complete the information request form linked below and a Clinic representative will follow up with you.

Information Request 

The First Amendment Clinic can answer general questions and provide general information pertaining to First Amendment law but cannot provide legal advice specific to your particular situation until the Clinic agrees to take on your case. The decision whether to take on a particular case depends on a number of factors, including whether the issue(s) at stake involve a First Amendment right falling within the scope of the Clinic’s mission. Consideration will also be given to the experiential opportunities that a case would provide to Clinic students.  Other factors include the capacity of the Clinic at a given time to take on new cases, and the current priorities of the Clinic.


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