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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: intra-family and private adoptions, avowal and disavowal of paternity, attorney for the child in highly contested custody cases, limited interdictions, and limited tutorship. The students also represent unaccompanied minors from countries such as Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in Special Immigrant Juvenile proceedings. Students work closely together with the immigration section to obtain optimal results for our clients.  Students in this section, practice before district court and juvenile court in Orleans and Jefferson Parish.  

Professor: Ramona Fernandez

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.

Professor: Davida Finger

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 hearings, 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.

Professor: Majeeda Snead

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.

Professor: Cheryl Buchert

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, the Board of Immigration Appeals, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and federal courts.

The Immigration Section's clients come from all over the world seeking protection in the forms of asylum, withholding of removal and the relief under the U.N. Convention Against Torture. We also assist people who are long term residents, survivors of serious crimes, trafficking and domestic violence, and youth and minors who were abused, neglected or abandoned by their parent. 

In addition to direct client representation, the Immigration Section engages with the local community such as conducting 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.

Professor: Hiroko Kusuda

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.

Professor: Judson Mitchell

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

Projects

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.
  • DocketMinder
    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.
  • LACrimBook
    Aims to replace West's big and expensive handbook of criminal laws with a free, digital alternative.

Professor: Judson Mitchell

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.

Professor: Luz M. Molina

The Youth Justice section teaches student practitioners the substantive law, procedure, and practical lawyering skills needed to advocate for the special education rights of students with disabilities and to defend youth in delinquency proceedings. Student practitioners represent parents of special education students in disputes over eligibility, discipline, services, accommodations, education in the least restrictive environment, and other issues related to the student’s right to a free and appropriate public education. Clinic students gain valuable experience with negotiation and client-centered representation advocating at Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings and other meetings at the school level. Many of the clinic’s special education cases also require formal dispute resolution involving mediation, the drafting and filing of administrative complaints, and litigation before administrative tribunals. The clinic also defends youth accused of delinquency in juvenile court at all phases of proceedings, from first appearance through trial and disposition. Clinic students advocate for the youth’s expressed interests while providing a high-quality, holistic defense. Students interested in careers as criminal defense attorneys will benefit from this clinic by developing trial skills and knowledge of criminal law and procedure in addition to learning the specialized skills and procedures specific to the representation of youth in delinquency proceedings. This section also offers to engage in policy work on pressing reforms related to juvenile justice, educational rights, and other areas of youth justice. 

Professor: Hector Linares