"In my time with the Civil Litigation Center I've done a little bit of everything. I've conducted interviews, I have communicated with and interviewed the clients, written briefs, researched various topics, filled out different motions and I've also been to court. In every assignment and project, a lot of the work required me to exercise judgment and really strategize and think about the case as a whole, which was the most valuable part of my experience. The opportunity to really learn about tons of different things, from contracts, to the way local and international businesses work has really been fantastic."
-- Larah Kent
Work in the Civil Litigation Center is highly client-focused, supplemented by weekly classes. Students participate in every step of the litigation process from the very beginning in deciding which clients are ultimately represented by the Center, through the development and implementation of case strategies to cases' conclusion if appellate briefs must be drafted. Students also gain direct experience in learning about the myriad legal and social problems facing the poor in Chicago as a result of the extensive interviewing they do of people seeking representation by the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.
"Experiences like those encountered in our Center can be incredibly rewarding work for students," says Elson. "Our efforts help keep poor families off the streets and in their apartments and often provide them with the financial or other assistance to which they are entitled. We receive heartwarming holiday cards and notes from people who are unbelievably thankful for what we did."
During their time in the Civil Litigation Center, students become highly confident in their lawyering skills. Working past self-consciousness, they feel comfortable and therefore are able to think creatively about challenges. They are provided ample opportunity for self-reflection and feedback from others that strengthen and fine-tunes their lawyering skills. In modern law practice, there are very few solo practitioners, and so collaboration between students is an important component in Center work.
Courses that are recommended for students taking the Civil Litigation Clinic include Evidence, Pre-Trial Litigation and Negotiations or Alternative Dispute Resolution.