Clinical legal education: hands-on learning

Chances are, if you’ve researched UHLC at all, you’ve read or heard about our amazing clinics.  We offer six options – Civil Practice, Consumer Law, Criminal Defense, Immigration, Mediation, and Transactional clinics.  Each one affords students the opportunity to get a feel for what the legal process is like when dealing with actual clients in the real world.  Clinics are open to 2Ls and 3Ls and vary in their requirements to apply; however, students interested in signing up for a clinic generally have no issue getting into the one of their choice.

Below are some FAQs regarding our clinical program (found at http://www.law.uh.edu/clinic/ClinicsandExternships.pdf).

What clinic should I take?

That depends on your interests.  The most obvious difference between the clinics is the types of cases handled – criminal, civil, immigration, transactional, etc.  All the clinics teach a similar set of lawyering skills.  If your goal is to learn a particular area of the law, take the clinic handling that type of law.  If your goal is to learn the lawyering skills you will need in practice, it does not matter which clinic you take.

What clients do the clinics represent?

In most of the clinics, the clients are individuals and organizations who are not in the financial position to otherwise obtain legal representation.

Do student attorneys in the clinics work with real clients?

Absolutely.  Students work with actual clients as the student attorney.  Students take primary responsibility for developing a case strategy and performing all the legal work on the case.  Federal and Texas laws permit students to provide direct representation in various courts and administrative tribunals under the supervision of a faculty supervisor.

Is there a limit on the number of clinics I can take?

Yes, you are limited to fifteen credit hours of clinical courses.  Please note that the government, nonprofit, and judicial externships are also subject to a separate cap.

How many hours a week will I spend in the clinic?

The number of hours spent each week depends on the number of credits you are receiving and the type of clinic.  For a three credit clinic you will work roughly nine hours per week, including class time.  For a four credit clinic, you work about 14 hours per week, including class time.

Are the clinics graded?

Yes, they are graded according to the grading system applicable to other second and third year classes.  The only exceptions are the Mediation Clinic, Judicial Externships, Criminal Practice Externship, and Government/Nonprofit Externships, which are graded Pass/Fail. The class associated with the Mediation Clinic is graded.

Running in Houston

Last fall I touched upon the subtropical climate native to the Bayou City and the optimal conditions offered for outdoor play, year round.

Considering the importance activity and exercise play in the role of stress management, I thought I would touch upon an alternative to the University of Houston’s Campus Recreation and Wellness Center— running!

First, where should one run? In addition to the paths in and around the University of Houston campus, some of Houston’s popular running trails include the Seymour Lieberman Exercise Trail at Memorial Park (intersection of I-10 and 610, about 8 miles away from the Law Center’s campus) with its 2.93-mile crushed granite and packed-earth jogging trail. If you’re up for it, you can add, approximately, another 7.7 miles (or 3.85 one way) to downtown Houston on the asphalt and concrete trails of Buffalo Bayou Park, but beware of the bats at the bridges intersecting the trails at Waugh and Studemont!MPR

Another popular run is the three miles around the campus of Rice University (located in the Museum district, about 4 miles away from campus). Mostly crushed granite and packed earth provide a nice surface for runners and mature oaks provide shade and shield runners from the sun for the majority of the run.

RiceR

Finally, if you’re looking for a route that’s a little bit shorter than the above, try the 2-mile Marvin Taylor Trail around the golf course at Hermann Park (located in the Museum District as well and about 3 miles from Campus). Offering a lot of shade from the historic oak trees lining the golf course, runners see both pavement and gravel trails.

HPR

Why Run? The Houston running community has plenty of opportunities to put your training to the test. Not only does Houston boast one of the top rated destination marathons in the country in the Chevron Houston Marathon, but a myriad of Boston qualifying options are within close proximity from the Woodlands Marathon to the Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon to the largest finisher medal in the country compliments of the Metal Saw Texas Marathon. By my count Houston and the immediate surrounding areas offer upwards of 10 Marathon or Ultra Marathon distance supported runs. This doesn’t begin to include the various 5k and up distances that are offered on a consistent basis throughout the community nor the night/day, mud, color, etc. runs that also present solid options.

Who can you “run” with? Houston has a very active running community! Not only are there several organizations in the Houston area dedicated to running (Houston Area Road Runners Association, Trail Racing Over Texas, to name a few) but students at the University of Houston Law Center can find classmates and colleagues with the same interest through the U.H. Law- Running Group Facebook page.

Best of luck as you find your running path and remember, the first step is always the hardest!

UHLC’s Professor Olivas Honored at UH Homecoming Game

michaelolivas2-LFootball

University of Houston Law Center Professor Michael A. Olivas was named Faculty Member of the Game last weekend during the homecoming football game against the Cincinnati Bearcats (33-30).  Professor Olivas is the Williams B. Bates Distinguished Chair and director of the Institute for Higher Education Law & Governance.  He teaches courses in business law & immigration, higher education law, and immigration law and policy. Professor Olivas is also known for his show on National Public Radio, The Law of Rock and Roll.  He can be seen in this photograph saluting Houston Cougar fans!

 

UH Homecoming Week

This week is Homecoming at the University of Houston! Homecoming at the University of Houston is a tradition dating back to 1946.  This week we celebrate the University of Houston, unite students and organizations, and showcase Cougar pride and spirit during one of the oldest traditions on campus.

Each day there will be different events for students, alumni, and the UH Community.  The week kicks off with a pep rally and the announcement of the Homecoming Court.  Students have the opportunity to participate in Spirit Day, a block party, Coog-lympics, and mum making, along with many other activities. Homecoming Fiesta on Friday includes delicious Texas BBQ, fireworks, and a concert featuring Lupe Fiasco and Wale. On Saturday we will cheer on the undefeated Cougars, currently 8-0, as they take on the Cincinnati Bearcats.  For more information regarding all the Homecoming events, please visit here.

To show our Cougar pride, the Office of Admissions teamed up with the Student Services Office to participate in the Cougar Spirit Bell Challenge.  This is an annual competition to award the office that shows the most Cougar spirit by decorating their offices during Homecoming Week.  This year’s theme is “Varsity Red” and we bleed red!  Below are a few pictures of the office suite.  The winners will be announced this Friday, wish us luck!

 

Front door to the suite

 

Entry way

 

Office Door Mum

 

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The History of Shasta

 

UH Bear

Student Post: Mediation Competitions

Student author Nneka Morah is a 2017 J.D. candidate at the University of Houston Law Center.

On Friday, October 9, 2015, I had a chance to participate in the Tom Newhouse Mediation Competition held at the University of Houston Law Center. The competition, which featured negotiators and mediators, involved students from the Law Center paired up in teams of two (32 teams in total), acting as attorney and client, whose disputes were mediated by mediators from other law schools around the country. What was even more interesting was the fact that the mediators were in a different competition as well, the Abrams Mediation competition. 

Amongst other criteria, we were judged on the presentation of our case, our understanding of the opposition, and our attorney/client relationship. After each round, we had the opportunity to critique ourselves and to get feedback from the judges. Although only three rounds were required, my partner, Zeinab Kachmar, and I completed four rounds that day because one team dropped out of the competition last minute and our help was solicited to fill in.

Although we did not advance to the quarter finals, I had an amazing experience. Being in the mediation clinic at the Law Center this semester has allowed me to take on the role of mediator in a few cases. Participating in this competition reminded me of the importance of my role as a mediator in making the mediation process a positive one from the attorney/client perspective, and it gave me a better and more rounded outlook on the entire process.

***Admissions staff note: please see below for more information on the Tom Newhouse Mediation Competition.

The Tom Newhouse Mediation Competition is held in conjunction with the Jeffry S. Abrams National Mediator Competition.  Tom Newhouse Competition Teams are presented with several fact patterns that include a summary of their side’s position and interests, then given a limited time to present their position and work through the dispute with mediators (who are themselves competitors in the Jeffry Abrams National Mediator Competition).

The Competition is open to all UHLC students.  Competition Teams consist of two UHLC students, with one serving as attorney and the other as client (alternating each round).  The Tom Newhouse Mediation Competition is limited to 30 teams.  Competition rounds are judged by members of the Houston legal community who often offer feedback to the teams after their round is over.  Teams are scored on the basis of the students’ case analysis, creativity, presentation, expression of the client’s goals, skills of compromise, and professional courtesy.