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Educating the Complete Lawyer


Detroit Mercy Law is proud of its clinical program, which is one of only a few 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.

Detroit Mercy Law Clinical Building

The required clinical program is evidence of the 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 the relevant skills and substantive law and all clinics provide for meaningful guided reflection. Additionally, each clinical professor works with their students throughout the semester to discuss and evaluate performance and accomplishments and provides a final comprehensive exit interview.  There are currently nine clinics and two new clinics are expected to begin in Winter '17.

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 due a gifit from Detroit Mercy Law alumus Anthony Asher, the heirs of Walter Buhl Ford III and the McGregor Fund, and many other generous donations.  For further information or questions about our Clinical Program, please call (313) 596-0262. 


    Immigration Law Clinic

    LAW 5060:  Immigration Law Clinic
    Credits 4
    Prerequisite:  Law 2220 (can be waived) and Law 2960 or 6230

    Students in the clinic represent immigrants seeking a variety of relief and benefits, including family sponsorship, Violence against Women Act Petitions, and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Students represent clients in trials before the US Immigration Court for clients seeking protection from persecution in their home country (asylum). The clinic also participates in hearings before the US Department of Homeland Security and the students write briefs to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the US 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. In addition to the two hour class each week, the students do twelve office hours that can include work done outside of the clinic.
    The Immigration Law Clinic is directed by Assistant Professor Alex Vernon.  Throughout 2017, Professor Vernon has given generously of his time giving information and providing services at immigration law clinics held at local churches.  In February 2017, Professor Vernon participated in a Sanctuary Teach-In with immigration law scholars at the University of Michigan on immigration law issues and also served on a panel of the Canadian Association of Regufee Lawyers held at the Universtiy of Windsor.  

    Housing Law Clinic

    LAW 5350:  Housing Law Clinic
    Credits 3
    No prerequisite

    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 9 hours per week outside of the classroom (Fall and Winter) and 18 hours per week outside of the classroom (Summer) at the walk-in clinic run by the United Community Housing Coalition at the 36th District Court (currently operating Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings). While students may satisfy some work hours at the United Community Housing Coalition office, students are expected to be available at least two of the three days the clinic is in session at the 36th District Court. 

    This clinic is supported by a generous grant from the Michigan State Bar Foundation.  See Clinic News for more details. 


    Veterans Law Clinic

    LAW 5200: Veterans Law Clinic
    Credits: 3

    Students participating in the Veterans Clinic have the opportunity to represent veterans and their families in disability cases.  Students practice before the Department of Veterans Affairs to obtain veterans benefits for service-connected disabilities. 

    In addition to learning and practicing substantive Veterans law, students have the opportunity to develop general lawyering skills such as client interviewing and counseling, advocacy, writing, and negotiating.  The three credit clinic includes a two-hour class and nine clinic office hours each week. 


    Trademark and Entrepreneur Clinic

    LAW 5320: Trademark and Entrepreneur Clinic
    Credits: 3 
    Prerequisite: Trademark Law and Business Organizations are recommended but not required.

    Operating as a USPTO certified trademark clinic (application pending), under the supervision of licensed attorneys, including licensed trademark attorneys registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (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.  


    Criminal Trial Clinic

    LAW 5020: Criminal Trial Clinic
    Credits:  3
    Prerequisites:  LAW 2220

    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, pretrial motions, plea negotiations, sentencing guidelines, and probation issues. Students interview clients, review discovery, prepare motions, conduct plea negotiations, and appear on the record every day they are in court. The classroom component prepares students in learning both substantive criminal law and local criminal procedure.


    Juvenile Appellate Clinic

    LAW 5100: Juvenile Appellate Clinic
    Credits: 3

    Students in this clinic represent juveniles in the Michigan Court of Appeals. The appeals primarily involve child protective proceedings from Wayne County Juvenile Court (abuse and neglect); however, there may be some appeals of delinquency cases. Students write appellate briefs for the juvenile clients and argue the case to a panel of expert attorneys before the case goes before the court, with some potential for the students to argue before the Court of Appeals.


    Appellate Advocacy Clinic, State Appellate Defenders Office (SADO)

    LAW 5030:  State Appellate Defenders Office (SADO) Criminal Advocacy Clinic
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: LAW 1140 and LAW 2100

    In the clinic, students prepare a criminal appellate brief to be submitted to the Michigan Court of Appeals or the Michigan Supreme Court under the supervision of attorneys from the State Appellate Defenders Office. The students prepare motions and briefs and also deliver a mock appellate argument before a panel of attorneys who specialize in criminal appellate work.  These mock arguments are done for cases before the Michigan Supreme Court. For cases before the Appellate Division, students are able to do the oral argument in line with recent revisions to MCR 8.120, the "Student Practice Rule." The classroom component for the course consists of writing, modeling, and simulated exercises aimed at developing persuasive oral and written appellate advocacy skills.


    Patent Law Clinic

    LAW 5300:  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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