Access to Justice Practicum

This course will examine important issues around access to civil justice, including the history of civil legal aid, current delivery systems and funding models, increased self-representation of litigants in the court system, and potential solutions to bridge the gap between the growing need for civil legal assistance and available resources. To most effectively explore these issues, the course is divided into two components: a seminar component and an experiential component. The bi-weekly seminars will begin with an overview of the challenges of ensuring access to civil justice, with each subsequent seminar analyzing more specific and complex access-oriented issues. The experiential component of the course involves projects with the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice and The Chicago Bar Foundation, various committees or related projects, where they will engage with attorneys on current legal and/or policy matters. Students will be involved in legal research, in-depth legal reasoning and policy analysis, document drafting and/or work with committees comprised of judges and lawyers throughout the state. Each placement will involve courtroom observation and other activities that will increase students’ understanding of the relevant issue. Students will be required to spend 120 hours in their field placements during the semester and may work in pairs.

Sequence and Prerequisites:  Students must enroll in and successfully complete both the seminar and field placement components in a single semester to receive any academic credit for this course. Due to course demand, students are limited to enrollment in only one Legal Practicum.

Evaluation:  Students will be graded based on the following criteria: (1) regular and punctual attendance at both the seminar and field placement course components, as required by ABA Standard 304(d); (2) quality of seminar and field placement participation, as assessed by Professors Hirsch and Tautges; (3) timely completion of a 10-15 page research paper on a topic related to the substance of the course.