Providing our students with real world experience by working with real clients is the main objective of the clinical programs at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. In addition to opportunities afforded through our traditional externship program (ranked fifth in the nation in 2012), our students also gain legal skills and practical experience through our other clinical options.
Small Business Law Center
Our Small Business Law Center (SBLC) opened in 2011 to provide students with practical skills opportunities that support community economic development in low-income communities. Under the direct supervision of licensed attorneys, students assist small business owners in a variety of areas, including: business formation, nonprofit tax exemption, contract review and negotiation, commercial leasing, copyright and trademark registration, as well as a limited number of employment law issues.
Students are responsible for all aspects of representing SBLC clients, including scheduling meetings, drafting legal documents, participating in interviews and consultations, performing file maintenance and generating all client communications.
Art and Entertainment Law Project
The Art and Entertainment Law Project is a new component of the SBLC that specifically targets artists and arts organizations. Regardless of the particular art form, intellectual property issues abound for artists and arts organizations and, for this reason, the Art and Entertainment Law Project is staffed by students with an interest in copyright and trademark law. Students learn to navigate the numerous intersections of business and intellectual property law.
The Thomas Jefferson School of Law Mediation Program provides a great opportunity for students to gain experience working with real clients who have filed cases in the South County and East County Small Claims Courts. As mediators, the students envision novel approaches to help clients move beyond their disputes in creative, constructive and satisfying ways.
Our Probate Court Mediation Program, launched in April, is designed to provide assistance to clients referred by the court in the areas of conservatorship, guardianship and child visitation. Most of the mediators are recent graduates of Thomas Jefferson School of Law who participated in the Mediation Program as students, and now desire to expand their knowledge of probate law. Students will eventually serve the program in a co-mediation role.
Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic
Since 2006, the nationally recognized Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic at Thomas Jefferson School of Law has provided limited legal assistance as well as full service representation to nearly 500 residents and alumni of Veterans Village of San Diego, a highly successful residential program for homeless veterans. Students have primary responsibility for the clients they represent in family, consumer and administrative law issues. In collaboration with the San Diego Office of the Primary Public Defender and the Returning Servicemember’s Legal Network, the clinic places two students per semester with criminal defense attorneys who specialize in representing veterans in criminal cases.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
For 15 years, students in the Tax Law Society at Thomas JeffersonSchool of Law have offered free assistance through the annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to low-income families, senior citizens, students and individuals who are unable to do their own tax return preparation. Students receive special training in tax preparation and electronic filing, and are IRS-certified.
Learn more about Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s clinical programs at www.tjsl.edu/academics/jd-programs/clinical-programs.
-Submitted by Thomas Jefferson School of Law.