Based in East Palo Alto–a low-income, majority-minority city four miles from the law school–the Community Law Clinic (CLC) is the closest thing to a traditional legal services office at Stanford. CLC is fundamentally a trial practice clinic, where students represent clients in three distinct but closely related subject areas: housing, social security disability, and criminal record expungement matters. Students in CLC have first-chair responsibility for their clients’ matters. They interview witnesses, negotiate with opposing counsel, draft pleadings and other legal documents, and represent their clients in court. Transitioning from being a law student to being a lawyer for a client, CLC students learn that legal analysis is but one part of successful representation. They learn how to set that legal analysis in motion, in real life contexts characterized by indeterminate facts, anxious clients, intransigent opponents, and busy trial judges.
The signature feature of the CLC is its off-campus location, which gives students the unique opportunity to work in a bustling community-based legal aid office. Being in the neighborhood affords CLC students extensive client contact, as well as a feel for daily life “beyond the bubble” in East Palo Alto. The CLC also works on policy projects, legislative advocacy, and community legal education. Currently, CLC is very active working on behalf of and in collaboration with community-based activists in campaigns for rent control in various Bay Area communities.
Students are supervised in their cases by Clinic Director and Associate Dean for Clinical Education Juliet Brodie, as well as clinical supervising attorneys Danielle Jones and Lisa Douglass. Bilingual administrative staff facilitate communications with monolingual Spanish-Speaking clients.
Whether at court, in the office, or in the community, CLC students, faculty supervisors and staff offer client-centered legal representation to a variety of low-income clients.