Clinical Law Programs

Legal Clinic 

The legal clinic operates as a law firm, located on the third floor of the Boyd Law Building.

For Current Students


Students must have completed the equivalent of three semesters of law school (a minimum of 39 credit hours) in order to be eligible to enroll in the Clinic programs. Students are eligible if they have completed a full summer semester (for a total of at least nine credit hours) and two regular fall or spring semesters. All students must be in good standing and have a GPA of 2.1 or higher.

Enrollment Lottery

Because demand for clinic courses usually exceeds supply, selection for the clinic programs is done by means of a lottery. Prerequisites exist for some externships, and preferences in those placements will be given to students who have completed certain courses. Preference in the selection process for all programs is given to persons who sign up for the maximum number of permissible credits.

There is a single lottery for the in-house clinic. After the lottery is complete, students may express particular interest in any of the Practice Areas.

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Clinic Veterans
Student legal interns may stay on in the in-house clinic as a veteran without re-entering the lottery, with the permission of their supervisors.

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Registration for the fall, spring and summer clinics will be advertised here, and through The Docket.

2014 Summer Application [pdf]
2014 Fall Application [pdf]
2014 Fall Field Placements [pdf]

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Credit from the Legal Clinic

Students may earn a maximum of 15 semester hours of credit in clinic programs. On occasion, students can enroll for additional hours to complete case work but in no event can they take more than 20 hours of combined clinic/non-law-school credit. In any given semester, the maximum number of credits available is as follows for each position listed:

  • Fifteen semester hours of credit (clinical semester): Iowa Attorney General, US Attorney for the Southern District (Des Moines), Judge Robert Pratt's Chambers, and Youth Law Center (all in Des Moines). This crediting includes 13 semester hours of credit for fieldwork and the clinic classroom component, and two semester hours of credit for a mandatory research paper.
  • Six semester hours of credit: Student Legal Services and Plains Justice
  • Nine semester hours of credit: All other externships
  • Nine semester hours of credit: In-house clinic

Clinic Hours Requirements
During the fall and spring semesters, a student enrolled in the clinic must be present in the clinic 3-4 hours per credit hour per week. For example, a student taking 9 credits must commit to at least 27-36 hours per week. During the summer semester a student must commit to 4.5 hours per credit hour per week. For 9 hours this means working full time.

Clinic Classroom Component
A required element of every student's first semester in any clinic program (in-house and externship) is the classroom component. This component consists of eight weeks of skills training through small group simulation exercises for 90 minutes per week.

Course Work Outside the Clinic
During the fall and spring semesters you may take up to 15 semester hours of credit, including clinic. Students enrolled in the clinic for 9 hours cannot take more than a total of 15 semester hours of credit, except with the permission of the clinic faculty. Since the summer is considered full time for nine semester hours of credit placements, no other classes are allowed. If you have a question about additional commitments, talk to the Clinic faculty.

Clinic Grades
All clinic programs are graded numerically.

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In addition to its diverse "in-house" clinic, Iowa offers an externship program that places students in a variety of legal settings. These externships are under the direct supervision of staff attorneys and are also supervised by College of Law faculty members.

Students have been placed with judges in the following courts:

  • US District Court
  • US Magistrate Court
  • US Bankruptcy Court

In addition, students have worked in the offices of the US Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa in Des Moines and the Quad Cities.

Other placements have included:

  • Iowa Attorney General
  • Youth Law Center in Des Moines
  • Student Legal Services in Iowa City
  • Iowa City City Attorney's Office
  • Federal Public Defender in Cedar Rapids
  • Iowa Legal Aid in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City
  • HELP Legal Services in Davenport

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Externships following In-House Placements
Students may enter the lottery for an externship position after finishing an in-house position. However, because a student is limited to no more than 15 semester hours of credit for clinic programs, you may take only six semester hours of credits the second semester if you have taken nine semester hours of credit in-house during the first semester. There is also a preference for students who have never held a Clinic position. If you have questions about this, contact one of the Clinic professors.

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About the Clinic

Click on the name of any faculty member below to see his or her informational page.

Patricia N. Acton
John S. Allen
Lois K. Cox
Leonard A. Sandler
Barbara A. Schwartz
John B. Whiston

The "in-house" clinic is located on the third floor of the College of Law. The clinic suite is fully equipped with computers, printers, and copiers. When students are enrolled in the clinic, their assigned carrels are in the clinic suite. Many clinic students use their own laptops, with access to the clinic network, but students without laptops can use desktops in the clinic "annex" reserved for their use.

Cases are supervised by full-time faculty members, and clinic interns have primary responsibility for the representation of their clients at all stages of the legal process, including interviewing and counseling, negotiation, fact investigation, depositions, drafting and briefing, and courtroom appearances. Most interns each semester have an opportunity to argue cases before various state and federal trial or appellate courts, or before administrative agencies.

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