Clinics & Field Work
Wake Forest Law is committed to helping you practice what you learn. Through several outstanding programs—some curricular, some extracurricular, and some co-curricular—our students work, argue, research, write, and practice, often while helping citizens in need. Our approach tightly integrates study, practice, and experience, and it develops great lawyers. See an overview of our clinical programs.
The Appellate Advocacy Clinic represents low-income clients in all sorts of appeals, both civil and criminal, and in a variety of appellate courts, including the Fourth Circuit and the Seventh Circuit. Working in pairs, students handle an actual appeal from start to finish, with advice and assistance from their professor, who is counsel of record. Students also travel to Washington, D.C., to observe arguments at the United States Supreme Court.
The Child Advocacy Clinic focuses on the representation of children in three settings: deciding the custody of children in high conflict cases, deciding the custody of children in civil domestic violence actions, and representing children of indigent parents in issues involving the public school system. Students study the various models for representing children – as lawyer advocate, as lawyer guardian ad litem, and as non-lawyer guardian ad litem – and analyze the ethical issues raised in the various settings. Students also study the procedural and substantive law involved in deciding the custody issue in both the family law and the domestic violence settings and in representing children in the educational setting.
The Community Law & Business Clinic is a community-oriented legal clinic focusing on the transactional aspects of nonprofit organizations, small business start-ups, and arts and entertainment law. The CLBC provides students with the skills needed to practice in an increasingly complex legal and regulatory environment, while enhancing economic development by bringing the expertise of Wake Forest University to local and regional clients.
Responding to the rapid growth of elder law practice, Wake Forest’s School of Law and School of Medicine have created the Elder Law Clinic, a unique service that exposes students to both the legal issues and medical aspects of this practice area.
The Innocence & Justice Clinic is a new clinical offering at Wake Forest University School of Law that commenced in Spring 2009. The I & J Clinic has its origins in the Innocence Project where Wake Forest student volunteers reviewed and investigated claims of innocence to determine whether DNA evidence existed that could exonerate inmates. The I & J Clinic expanded the mission of the Innocence Project by providing students with the opportunity to review and investigate all types of innocence claims and pursue litigation when appropriate.
The Civil and Criminal Externship Clinic is our oldest and largest clinic, accommodating 25 students per semester. It began in 1981 as a legal services project. Today, it incorporates the full spectrum of the practice of law. Students are placed with supervising attorneys in offices large and small, public and private, in a wide range of practice areas. We believe we are the only clinic in the country that requires each student to have concurrent civil and criminal law placements. The idea is for students to confront not only issues of property and money but life and liberty, while rounding out a skill set that will serve both the student and their future clients well.
The Program in Washington provides selected students with the opportunity to spend a semester in practice in the most diverse and vibrant legal environment in the world. The program includes both an externship component and a programmatic initiative that includes conferences, roundtables, symposia, and lectures. Students spend approximately 35 hours per week interning in a government agency or non-governmental organization. In addition, students attend a weekly class session, which explores issues common to the interns.
The Carolina Externship provides selected students with the opportunity to spend a month in Charlotte during the summer practicing in a corporate or business setting. The program involves both a class and externship placement where rising third-year students may expect to work on issues affecting corporations. For the externship, students will be placed full time with firms or in-house counsel offices. Classes will be held at the WFU Charlotte Center. Placements in other cities may be available, with course work handled by distance education.
The Judicial Externship allows selected students to be placed with judges in state and federal courts throughout the Triad and beyond. Students spend time in court with their mentoring judge as well as researching and writing over a five- to six-week period. There is also a writing requirement. While the majority of placements are within the Triad, students may also recruit their own judges in any location where they hope to practice.
The Wake Forest in Washington, D.C. Summer Judicial Externship allows selected second- and third-year students to spend eight weeks working in some of America’s most vibrant courts including the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, among others. As part of the externship, students will engage in the kinds of tasks performed by law clerks, under the immediate supervision of an experienced attorney in Chambers. In addition, students attend a weekly class session, which explores issues common to the interns.