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Clinics

Detroit Mercy Law is proud of its clinical program, one of a small number of required clinical programs in the country. Founded initially as the Urban Law Clinic in 1965, it was among the earliest clinics in the nation. Since that time, the program has flourished receiving numerous awards including the ABA Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access with Meritorious Recognition in 2012, and the ABA Law Student Division’s Judy M. Weightman Memorial Public Interest Award in 2006.  There are currently nine clinics with two new clinics to begin in Winter 2018.

Detroit Mercy Law Clinical Building

The required clinical program is evidence of Detroit Mercy Law’s mission to provide an educational experience that emphasizes experiential learning and service to others. Students attend weekly classes that focus on relevant practical skills and the substantive law. Students must also complete a substantial number of clinical work hours outside the classroom.  Clinical professors work with students throughout the semester to discuss case strategy, review student work and evaluate the overall performance of students. The semester ends with a self-assessment exercise, guided self-reflection, or a final exit interview.  

The Detroit Mercy Law clinical program resides in the George J. Asher Law Clinic Center, a converted firehouse built in 1910.  The firehouse was renovated and converted for our clinical program due to a gifit from Detroit Mercy Law alumus Anthony Asher, the heirs of Walter Buhl Ford III and the McGregor Fund, and many other generous donors. For further information or questions about our Clinical Program, call  (313) 596-0262. 

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    Immigration Law Clinic

    LAW 5060:  Immigration Law Clinic
    Credits: 4
    Prerequisites:  LAW 2220 Evidence and either LAW 2960 Immigration Law or LAW 6230 United States and Canadian Immigration Law (The Evidence prerequisite may be waived if taken contemporaneously with this Clinic.)

    In this Clinic, students will represent immigrants seeking a variety of relief and benefits, including family sponsorship, Violence Against Women Act Petitions, and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Students will also represent clients in trials before the U.S. Immigration Court and hearings before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Students may write appellate briefs to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  The classroom component has substantive instruction in interviewing, litigation, and appellate advocacy skills, as well as attorney-client relations, ethics, and case strategy. The Clinic is designed for students with an interest in practicing Immigration Law.  This course includes a three-hour class each week and required clinical work hours that must be satisfied during the week. Clinical work hours include work done outside of the office.
    More Information about the Immigration Law Clinic
    The Immigration Law Clinic is directed by Assistant Professor Alex Vernon.  Professor Vernon was previously in private practice as an immigration lawyer.  Professor Vernon strives to provide meaningful learning experiences for law students through a clinical practice that integrates community service with a committment to social justice. Professor Vernon and Clinic students participate in community outreach at events such as santuary teach-ins, community immigration clinics and Know Your Rights sessions.
    In a recent case students represented a detained (imprisoned) asylum seeker through all the steps of his immigration court case, culminating in a grueling all day hearing that resulted in the Clinic client prevailing and winning asylum.  The new asylee spent his first day of freedom in our Clinic speaking with students about his experiences. 
    Professor Vernon with students at Freedom House
    Professor Vernon with his wife Carole Vernon, and baby,
    and Detroit Mercy Law students at a Freedom House event in 2016.
     
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    Housing Law Clinic

    LAW 5350:  Housing Law Clinic
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites:  None

    Evictions are a major contribution to the homeless problem in Detroit and the growing deterioration of properties in many communities. In this Clinic students will represent tenants and homeowners facing eviction proceedings in the 36th District Court of Detroit.  Students will study relevant areas of federal and state housing law and learn how to interview clients, prepare pleadings, negotiate settlements and litigate cases.  Students will be expected to work each week outside of the classroom at the walk-in clinic run by the United Community Housing Coalition at the 36th District Court operating Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Students may satisfy some work hours at the United Community Housing Coalition office located at 2727 Second Ave., Suite 313, Detroit, MI, 48201-2657.

    Students must be available for at least one of the following time slots each week:  Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
    This Clinic is supported by a generous grant from the Michigan State Bar Foundation.  See Clinic News for more details. 
    More Information about the Housing Law Clinic
    The Housing Law Clinic began Summer term 2017.  It is directed by Adjunct Professor Ted Phillips, an attorney and Executive Director of the United Community Housing Coalition.  Attorney Phillips has been with United Community Housing for many years and has spent his legal career working with low income clients in need of assistance relative to their living situation whether due to eviction, mortgage foreclose or tax foreclosure.  Attorney Phillips has served on a variety of task forces related to housing and homelessness problems in Detroit and Wayne County. 
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    Veterans Law Clinic

    LAW 5200: Veterans Law Clinic
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites:  None
    Highly Recommended:  Law 2220 Evidence

    Students participating in the Veterans Clinic have the opportunity to represent military veterans and their families in disability cases and related matters.  Students primarily will practice before the Department of Veterans Affairs to obtain veterans benefits for service-connected disabilities.  The work may include opportunities for interviewing veterans and conducting educational presentations.

    In addition to learning and practicing substantive veterans law, students have the opportunity to learn and develop more general lawyering skills such as client interviewing and counseling, advocacy, writing, and negotiating. 

    This three-credit Clinic includes a two-hour class and required clinical work hours each week.  A mandatory all day (or 2 half days) boot-camp orientation on substantive veterans law will be scheduled early in the semester.

    More Information about the Veterans Law Clinic

    The Veterans Law Clinic is taught by Associate Professor Margaret ("Peggy") Costello, who was instrumental in establishing the Veterans Law Clinic in 2007.  This Clinic is one of the first law school clinics in the country devoted to helping veterans.  This multiple-award winning Clinic, together with the assistance of pro bono attorneys, has recovered more than $2,000,000 in retroactive payments for veterans and their family members.

    One case of particular significance involved a homeless veteran for whom the Clinic successfully recovered benefits which allowed the disabled veteran, who had been living in his car, to purchase a home. 

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    Veterans Appellate Law

    LAW 5211 Appellate Veterans Clinic
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites:  None

    This Clinic allows students to practice appellate advocacy and represent disabled veterans and/or their dependants before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) under supervision of an experienced clinical professor. Students will have the opportunity to obtain appellate litigation experience while performing pro bono service. They will also learn the expectations, rules and procedures that apply to the CAVC. 

    Student participation in the CAVC Clinic will involve interviewing clients, researching and developing the law and facts, and pursuing appeals by participating in settlement conferences.  Students will write and file briefs, motions, and other documents on behalf of the appellant. The students will discuss litigation strategy, Rule 33 Conference Hearings, court rules, electronic case filing, issue framing and advocacy writing.  The potential for appeal to higher courts will also be analyzed. Some cases handled by the students may involve oral argument before a three judge panel at the CAVC with opportunity to create new precedent.  

    Students will meet weekly for the classroom component, and have required work hours each week. 

    Although students in the non-appellate Veterans Clinic on rare occasions handle a CAVC case, in this Clinic the students will be working solely on appellate cases. These cases are generally more complex than the usual disability cases handled by the Veterans Clinic. 

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    Trademark and Entrepreneur Clinic

    LAW 5320: Trademark and Entrepreneur Clinic
    Credits: 3 
    Prerequisite:  None
    Highly Recommended:  LAW 3800 Trademarks and Unfair Competition and LAW 2010 Business Organizations

    Operating as a United States Patent and Trademark (USPTO) certified trademark clinic (application pending), under the supervision of licensed attorneys, including licensed trademark attorneys registered to practice before the USPTO, students will have the opportunity to assist local entrepreneurs in filing trademark applications with the USPTO and will be able to correspond directly with that office as well as prepare and file responses.  Students will also assist business entrepreneurs in navigating the legal issues involved in business startup. Students will interview local entrepreneurs, advise on venture formation options, assist in venture formation (including incorporation), prepare agreements and advise on corporate/commercial matters generally.  
    More Information about the Trademark and Entrepreneur Clinic
    
    This Clinic began Fall 2017 term.  Timothy K. Kroninger, an intellectual property attorney and partner with the Detroit office of Varnum LLP, is the adjunct professor and director of the Clinic.  "Among the goals of the new clinic are for students to gain exposure to entrepreneurs and early stage companies and understand their needs and motivations, as well as some of the key elements for a successful business in the startup industry,"  Kroninger said.  For more information about Professor Kroninger click here.
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    Criminal Trial Clinic

    LAW 5020: Criminal Trial Clinic
    Credits:  3
    Prerequisites:  LAW 2220 Evidence or LAW 2230 Canadian and United States Evidence (these courses may not be taken concurrently with the Clinic)

    In the Criminal Trial Clinic, students represent misdemeanor defendants in district courts. The course prepares students for all practical aspects of criminal defense, including bonds, arraignments, discovery, preliminary examinations, pre-trial motions, plea negotiations and sentencing guidelines. Students will interview clients, review discovery, prepare motions, conduct plea negotiations, and appear on the record.
    In the Criminal Trial Clinic, students represent misdemeanor defendants in two district courts.  Students must be available for court on Wednesday mornings from 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. at the 32A District Court in Harper Woods.  Students will also be able to complete work hours at the 36th District Court in Detroit (days based on studetns' availability) Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.


    More Information about the Criminal Trial Clinic

    The Criminal Trial Clinic is taught by a team of adjunct professors.  As of Fall 2017 term, attorney Joyce Reasonover is the primary adjunct professor teaching this Clinic three semesters per year.  Ms. Reasonover is an expert in misdemeanor defense and has been with the Misdemeanor Defender Office for the past 15 years.  The other adjunct professors are Patricia Maceroni (Fall 2017), Robyn Frankel (Winter 2018) and Pamella Szydlak (Summer 2018).  All are in private practice and specialize in criminal defense. 
    Over the years, the Criminal Trial Clinic has provided students with numerous opportunities to successfully represent indigent clients with respect to a wide range of misdemeanors.  Notably, in Fall 2016, Carly Babi (2018), a past student in the Criminal Trial Clinic, successfully convicnced the district court judge and prosecutor to dismiss a Retail Fraud conviction that posed a barrier to employment for a young woman who could not obtain a nursing certificate after she graduated from college because of this conviction. 
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    Juvenile Appellate Clinic

    LAW 5100: Juvenile Appellate Clinic
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: LAW 2220 Evidence (May not be taken concurrently with this Clinic.)
    Highly Recommended:  LAW 2240 Family Law

    The Clinic will allow students to represent children in appeals to the Michigan Court of Appeals from trial court proceedings in the Wayne County Juvenile Court.  The appeals almost exclusively involve child protective proceedings (abuse and neglect), but there may also be some exposure to juvenile delinquency proceedings and appeals of those cases.  

    The Clinic will involve learning appellate procedures through written exercises and drafting a brief to be submitted to the Michigan Court of Appeals.  Students will also have the opportunity to argue the appeal to a panel of expert attorneys. Under recent changes made to MCR 8.120, students may additionally have the opportunity to argue the appeal to the Court of Appeals.  The Juvenile Law Appellate Clinic offers an excellent opportunity to develop advanced writing skills and to prepare for imminent practice.  

    More Information about the Juvenile Law Appellate Clinic

    The Clinic is taught by Adjunct Professor William E. Ladd who was named the 2016 Child Welfare Attorney of the Year by the Michigan Supreme Court Administrator's Office through the Foster Care Review Board.  Professor Ladd is a full-time attorney with the Michigan Children's Law Center.  He refers court-appointed cases from the Center to the Clinic for students to work on under his supervision.  

    One of the most significant cases for the students involved the terminating the parental rights of a mother who stabbed her 7-year-old daughter to death.  The juvenile court was asked to terminate the mother's parental rights for her other living children, and granted the request.   The case included testimony from five doctors, numerous social workers and civilian witnesses.  The case was appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals and students wrote briefs and were ultimately successful in affirming the order to terminate parental rights in order to protect the surviving children. 

     

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    Appellate Advocacy Clinic, State Appellate Defenders Office (SADO)

    LAW 5030:  State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) Criminal Advocacy Clinic
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: LAW 1140 Criminal Law and LAW 2100 Criminal Procedure (may not be taken concurrently with this Clinic)

    In the Clinic, students will work on plea appeals and will prepare a criminal appellate brief to be submitted to the circuit court, Michigan Court of Appeals or Michigan Supreme Court under the supervision of attorneys from the State Appellate Defender Office. The students will meet with the client (at the prison or jail or by means of video conference), will prepare motions and briefs, and will have the chance to argue in the circuit court and/or Court of Appeals pursuant to Michigan Court Rule 8.210. The classroom component of the course consists of writing, mock arguments and discussion of strategy and case law pertaining to plea and sentencing claims.  This course involves appeals from plea-based convictions only.  

    More Information about the SADO Clinic

    The State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) handles indigent felony appeals from all 83 counties in the state.  It was formed in 1969 pursuant to a grant, supported one year later by administrative order of the Michigan Supreme Court, and formally established by the Michigan Legislature in 1979.  See MCL 780.711 et seq.

    During the Fall 2015 term, student Kevin McLean (now an attorney with Creighton, McLean & Shea PLC) wrote a brief for the Michigan Court of Appeals challenging computer and internet restrictions imposed on a SADO Clinic client as a condition of that client's probation.  The Court of Appeals initially denied leave to appeal, but the Michigan Supreme Court remanded the case for review by the Court of Appeals.  On July 27, 2017, the Court of Appeals vacated the probation condition that restricted the client from owning, possessing or using a computer or device capable of connecting to the internet, and remanded for a hearing to determine whether the internet restrictions were warranted and, if so, for the trial court to tailor those conditions to the individualized rehabilitation needs of the client/defendant.  The case can be found by clicking here.  

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    International IP Patent Law Clinic

    LAW 5300:  International IP Patent Law Clinic
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisite:  LAW 3500 Patent Law

    Under the supervision of patent attorneys registered to practice before the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), students will write patent applications for needy inventors. Students will interview an inventor, prepare drawings and a description for a patentability search, evaluate the patentability search results, prepare drawing layouts for a patent application for the inventor, and write all parts of the specifications including claims for the invention. Applications will be filed with the PTO. If an office action arrives at an appropriate time, the students will then prepare a response to the office action.

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