Fields of Practice
Through the Law Clinic, law students have the chance to represent real clients in nine different fields of practice.
Students represent the rights of children in cases such as: adoptions, attorney for the child, and highly contested custody cases. The students also represent unaccompanied minors from countries such as Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in Special Immigrant Juvenile proceedings.
This section teaches law students substantive, procedural and practical advocacy skills in order to assist clinic clients with housing and civil rights issues. Particular emphasis will be placed on social justice issues in the context of community lawyering. Students will investigate and analyze law and facts in individual and group contexts, research substantive law, draft pleadings, participate in community education and outreach, and advocate informally, administratively, and through carefully targeted state and federal litigation. Students are expected to master advanced lawyering skills in this clinical section.
The Criminal Defense section is designed to teach law students substantive, procedural, and practical trial and appellate advocacy skills in the context of actual criminal cases. Law students are also taught to consider the ethical considerations applicable in the context of their cases and the practice of law as well. At the end of the year, students in this course are expected to be effective trial litigators, having acquired the necessary experience to handle every aspect of a criminal case. Students have multiple experiences in the criminal defense section including interviewing clients and witnesses, formal and informal fact investigation, research and cite the appropriate statutory and case law, drafting pleadings and writing memoranda and briefs. They also, through the guidance and supervision of their clinical professors, who are seasoned criminal trial attorneys, handle every aspect of their court appearances such as pretrial motion hearings, revocation hearings, multiple bill earings, negotiate plea bargains, jury voir dire, direct and cross examination of witnesses at trial, as well as opening and closing arguments. The practice of criminal law also affords the students the opportunity to file writs and appeals. In the past, students have argued before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal and Louisiana Supreme Court.
Students in the family law practice section represent clients by court appointment (children, absent defendants, and interdicts in interdiction cases). The student practitioners also represent indigent persons (mothers, fathers, grandparents) in custody, divorce, child support, and paternity cases. Students interview clients, conduct fact investigation, discovery, and legal research, prepare and file pleadings in court, develop a theory of their case, and prepare memorandums. The students make court appearances and participate in settlement conferences with opposing attorneys. Most students make several court appearances to argue their cases at hearings and trials in Orleans and Jefferson Parish Courts.
Since 1979, the Immigration Clinic of the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice has represented non-citizens before the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration Courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. We also represent people before the federal circuit courts of appeals and the federal district courts on various issues.
The Immigration Clinic's clients come from all over the world seeking protection in the form of asylum, withholding of removal and the relief under the U.N. Convention Against Torture. We also assist people who are long term residents, victims of crimes, trafficking and/or domestic violence, and minors who were abused, neglected or abandoned by their parent to obtain immigration relief.
In addition to client representation, the Immigration Clinic conducts a bi-monthly “Know Your Rights” immigration legal orientation program and consultation at Luke’s House, a community based health clinic located in Central City of the City of New Orleans.
The Criminal Misdemeanor Clinic is a one-semester clinic offered in the Fall which focuses heavily on litigation in routine criminal legal matters. Students will handle a variety of misdemeanor cases in District, Municipal, and Traffic courts, along with occasional lower-grade felony cases. Students can expect to spend a significant amount of time in court from the beginning of the semester. Class time will focus on the practical aspects of criminal procedure as well as professional guidance in this area of law.
Loyola runs the only prosecution clinic in the New Orleans area. Third year law students litigate as prosecutors under the supervision of experienced licensed prosecutors in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes pursuant to Rule XX of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Over the years, clinic prosecution students have participated in a range of legal activities including legal research, interviewing victims and witnesses, preparing police officers and others to testify, calling the docket, advocating at preliminary hearings, conducting direct and cross examination of witnesses, arguing motions, preparing writ applications, helping pick juries and give opening and closing statements. This can be a one semester clinic.
The Technology and Legal Innovation Section of the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice explores the use of technology in the practice of law. Students in this clinic design and implement technology projects aimed at assisting legal practitioners and increasing access to justice. Students learn to write software code and work with data and then put these skills into practice to solve real-world legal problems. This is a one-semester clinic.
More information is available at http://loyolalawtech.org
The Technology and Legal Innovation section projects for the most recent year include:
- Good Time Calculator
Helps calculate diminution in sentence for good behavior for inmates sentenced under Louisiana law.
An application that monitors changes to the Orleans Criminal Court Docket Master and allows practitioners to stay informed about the latest activity in their cases.
Aims to replace West's big and expensive handbook of criminal laws with a free, digital alternative.
The Workplace Justice Project (WJP) was created in December 2005 to provide legal services to low-wage workers who came to New Orleans in the post-Hurricane Katrina clearing and rebuilding efforts and who were not being paid their earned wages. Most of these workers were Latino. Since its inception, the WJP has partnered with many community organizations to address the need for legal representation in wage claims and worker education. In 2008, it instituted a weekly Wage Claim Clinic (WCC) available every Thursday evening. Since 2015, in response to time constraints faced by workers, the WCC operates daily through a combination of telephone intake interviews and in-person follow up meetings.
The WJP builds resources and enforces low-wage workers’ rights, cultivating legal and economic opportunities which uphold and respect their dignity. The WJP’s overarching goal is to reach out to vulnerable workers who are otherwise marginalized by their lack of access to the legal system and to improve the climate in which workplace laws are enacted and enforced. This work includes the improvement of working conditions through collaborative alliances with similarly focused community organizations, holding regulatory government agencies accountable, and examining the need for changes in the law that bring about meaningful improvements for vulnerable workers and their families.
Student Practitioners are critical to the work of the WJP: They endeavor to educate workers about their rights and the legal process, litigate their claims in order to hold employers accountable and advocate for changes and modifications in the law, where appropriate, so that workers’ workplace conditions are respected and wages are valued, protected and recovered in the least expensive, most efficient way possible. In this context, Student Practitioners have the opportunity to represent clients from initial interview and counsel to final resolution by negotiation, trial or appeal, in varied causes of action in or related to labor and employment law; these include, but are not limited to state remedies for non-payment of wages, state construction labor liens, state obligations law, Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, American with Disabilities Act, 42 USC §1981, Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986-Anti-Discrimination Provisions, Section 7-concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act, workers as creditors in Bankruptcy Court and state and federal procedural law. Moreover, the Workplace Justice’s WCC process affords Student Practitioners the opportunity to exclusively develop and improve their interviewing, analytical and writing skills.
The WJP has been able to expand its work by securing grants from local and national funders, including the Greater New Orleans Foundation, Louisiana Bar Foundation, Baptist Community Ministries, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. WJP staff serves on the Louisiana State Law Institute’s Unpaid Wages Committee, which examines how to increase the effectiveness of state wage statutes to ensure understanding of rights and obligations and secure payment of all earned wages. The WJP maintains a website as a resource to the community about workers’ rights and access to legal remedies.
The Youth Justice Clinic section teaches students the substantive and procedural law and practical lawyering skills they need to engage in a legal practice focused on both special education advocacy and the representation of youth in delinquency proceedings. The clinic represents parents advocating for the rights of their children with disabilities in special education matters. Student attorneys ensure disabled students receive the free and appropriate public education to which they are entitled to under the law, including in matters related to eligibility, discipline, related services and accommodations, and education in the least restrictive environment. Students advocate for their clients at Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings as well as meetings related to eligibility determinations and school discipline proceedings. The clinic’s special education docket also include cases that may involve mediation, due process hearings, administrative complaints, and/or other targeted state and federal litigation. The clinic also defends youth accused of delinquency in juvenile court at all phases of proceedings, from first appearance through trial, disposition, and beyond. Student attorneys advocate for the youth’s expressed interests while providing a high-quality, holistic defense. Students in this section may also have the opportunity to engage in policy work on pressing issues related to juvenile justice, educational rights, and other topics related to youth justice.