Clinical & Experiential Program Newsletter

Fall 2016

The UCLA School of Law Clinical and Experiential Learning Program continues to provide students with rigorous training and meaningful opportunities to represent individuals and organizations in need. We offer a wide range of simulated courses and innovative clinics in which students are closely supervised by our experiential faculty. This newsletter provides a snapshot of our latest successes and new programs.

Students Lead Successful Bid for Clemency

In August President Obama released a prisoner whose clemency petition was researched and written by students in the UCLA Law Criminal Defense Clinic under the guidance of professors Ingrid Eagly and Julie Cramer. Darnell Crookshank had served 20 years of a life sentence for drug possession when President Obama granted him and 213 other prisoners clemency, in part because of the unfairness of harsh sentencing guidelines for nonviolent offenses that were in place at the time of their convictions. In addition to co-teaching the Criminal Defense Clinic, this semester Professor Eagly launched a Sentencing Advocacy Clinic to increase awareness and expertise in this crucial area of criminal law. In the federal system, 97 percent of cases are resolved by plea bargaining and proceed immediately to sentencing. Yet the sentencing process is infrequently studied in law schools, and even less attention is given to defense lawyers’ crucial advocacy role at the moment of sentencing. UCLA Law may be the only school in the country to offer a course focusing on sentencing advocacy.

Supreme Court Clinic Lands 6 Cases on High Court Docket


The UCLA Supreme Court Clinic has had an astounding six cases accepted by the Supreme Court in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 terms. The clinic, supervised by Stuart Banner, Norman Abrams Professor of Law, has recently worked on cases involving trademark, immigration sentencing and constitutional law matters, including a victory in last term’s Heffernan v. City of Paterson. Each year several thousand cases are presented to the court, and only 60 or 70 are selected to be heard. Read more about the Supreme Court Clinic in the Fall 2016 UCLA Law Magazine

IHRC champions rights of formerly incarcerated women


In the fall of 2016, students in UCLA Law's International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) will partner with the California Institute for Women Think Tank to develop a memorandum addressing the human rights of women re-entering society after being incarcerated. The memo, to be submitted to the Los Angeles Mayor's Office of Reentry, results from the city’s adoption in 2003 of an ordinance to implement the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The barriers facing formerly incarcerated women and the unjust and inhumane collateral consequences of life after incarceration remain of urgent concern to human rights advocates. The memorandum developed by students will present the findings of a needs-and-resource assessment in the areas of employment and housing. Once every two weeks, IHRC students travel to the California Institute for Women to work with advocates and incarcerated women to help produce a comprehensive account of what it would mean for the city of Los Angeles to fulfil the human rights of formerly incarcerated women reentering their communities.

Preparing to Practice: The Lawyer-Client Relationship Course


UCLA Law's innovative and well-received course for first-year students, "Introduction to the Lawyer-Client Relationship," takes students out of the lecture hall and places them into small groups for hands-on training. Through this course, which is now in its third year, all first-year students are introduced to aspects of the lawyer-client relationship such as: basics of client interviewing, client-centered lawyering, confidentiality, privilege and cross-cultural effectiveness. Fifteen UCLA Law instructors are paired with 15 practitioners to teach groups of no more than 20 students. Students engage in simulated client interviews, small group discussions, substantive law training, and individualized feedback. The course culminates with students conducting live client interviews at local legal services organizations, such as Mental Health Advocacy Services (pictured).

Student Spotlight: Alexander Tracosas ‘19


Prior to taking the Introduction to the Lawyer-Client Relationship Course, I had no clue how to conduct a client interview. This became abundantly clear to me during our first simulation, when I inadvertently accused the client of causing the car accident in which she was injured.  (Whoops!) However, just a few weeks later, I am confident in my ability to conduct an interview that not only gathers useful information, but also makes the client feel valued and respected. Less than three months into law school, I have interviewed clients at the Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center in Koreatown and the Los Angeles Community Action Network on Skid Row via the El Centro Clinic. In each interview, I found myself using the skills we learned and practiced in the course. To say that these experiences were rewarding would be a massive understatement. The look on one client’s face after being told that she was not going to be evicted from her apartment was priceless, and it reminded me why I came to law school in the first place: to be in a position to help others less fortunate than I. The fact that I was able to do this so early in my law school career is a testament to the value of this course. (Alexander is second from left in the photo).

Clinic runs intake line for low-income people living with HIV


UCLA Law's Interviewing & Counseling HIV Clinic is teaching students critical interviewing and counseling skills and is supporting hundreds of primarily low-income individuals living with HIV in Los Angeles County. Under Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project (LA HLPP) Director Ayako Miyashita, students interview and counsel clients on issues including Social Security disability and long-term disability, and help to provide education to AIDS service organizations, clients and patient groups regarding legal rights and responsibilities. LA HLPP is a collaborative project of UCLA School of Law, the Williams Institute at UCLA Law, the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Inner City Law Center, and Bet Tzedek Legal Services. In its first two years, LA HLPP established a centralized intake line that addressed more than 900 matters for clients.

Student Spotlight: Michael Hanover '17: HIV Clinic


"I came to law school to earn a degree that would allow me the opportunity to help others, but law students are very limited in what kind of services they can offer. I am also interested in the intersection of law and communicable diseases – especially criminal law. The main skills I have used in the clinic are interpersonal client relationship skills. Without the proper amount of empathy, interviewing strategy, and sensitivity, it would be all but impossible to elicit the necessary information in order to evaluate a client's case. Additionally, legal research skills have been very important in following up with clients and helping them decide their next steps in resolving their legal issue. The most rewarding part of the work has definitely been hearing the change in a caller's voice when they find out the law provides a way out of a troubling situation, or that there are people in the community who will give them the attention they deserve and stand up for their rights. It is a subtle thing, but in practice it feels very good to know someone in a dire situation is a little less concerned than they were before they placed the call to LA HLPP.”

New Binder Clinical Teaching Fellow Jyoti Nanda


UCLA School of Law welcomes Jyoti Nanda as the Binder Clinical Teaching Fellow for the 2016-2018 academic years. Nanda, a past faculty co-director of the Critical Race Studies Program and core faculty of the David J. Epstein Public Interest Law Program, has been at UCLA School of Law since 2003. She will continue her work with the Youth & Justice Clinic in addition to other legal scholarship. We are thrilled to report that the outgoing Binder Clinical Teaching Fellows Irene Joe and Brandon Weiss accepted positions as faculty members at other law schools. Irene Joe is an acting professor of law at UC Davis School of Law, and Brandon Weiss is now an associate professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

Student Spotlight: Sika Yeboah-Sampong '17: UCDC Extern


“I have always believed in the power of hands-on learning so I always knew that I wanted to extern. I secured a position at the Federal Communications Commission, in the International Bureau’s Global Strategies & Negotiation Division. I work alongside attorney advisers and economists on issues like broadband Internet access, 5G technology deployment and spectrum coordination. I came into the position with a very basic understanding of Internet access issues, and have learned so much about what goes on behind the scenes to ensure Internet access via our smartphones or online availability of TV shows. Through my externship, I’ve seen the way in which law school has strengthened my ability to write clearly and make compelling arguments. I have been thrilled to work at the intersection of law and public policy, and this externship has helped me become clearer about my career path and interest in public service. For me, the most rewarding part of this experience has been going to work every day and remembering why I chose to attend law school in the first place.”

New Clinics Focus on Veterans, Immigration, Food Law


In 2017, several new clinical offerings will be made available to students. Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Professor of Law, will teach the Immigrants’ Rights Policy Clinic with Clinical and Experiential Project Director Joe Berra. Berra also co-teaches the International Human Rights Clinic with professor Tendayi Achiume. Berra previously served as an attorney for the Texas Civil Project in Austin, where he was coordinator of the Disability Rights Program and the Austin Independent School District Equity Project. He joined the law school in 2016.
We also welcome Allison Korn, clinical director the Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy, who will teach the Food Law Clinic. Korn previously was a clinical teaching fellow at the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Finally, UCLA Law is developing a Veterans Benefits Clinical Program, which will include experiential learning projects, in-house clinics and student pro bono activities involving the legal representation of veterans in various areas of need.

UCLA Externship Program Excels at Practical Training

UCLA Law continues to offer excellent externship placements so students are able to work with a wide variety of employers and in a range of practice areas. One example is the University of California Washington Center, or UCDC. UCDC gives law students the opportunity to intern with Congress, the White House, cabinet agencies and other organizations to gain valuable work experience and a first-hand understanding of the American political process.