How to create a legal clinic?

How to create a legal clinic?

The first step is to find a key patron of the clinic, whose involvement and assistance may play a vital role in the attainment of subsequent objectives.
A patron will prove particularly helpful in obtaining the consent of the dean or a faculty council to enter the legal clinic's program into the university curriculum. This is the very foundation for the clinic's future development.

The next task is to find an office for the clinic and to provide it with the necessary equipment, which is instrumental for the clinic to operate efficiently. If in the initial phase of clinic organization problems present themselves in obtaining an adequate office at the university, one may arrange with the charitable organizations, which will refer clients to the clinic, to hold client conferences in their offices, thus limiting operations on the university premises to consulting opinions with supervisors and to holding weekly seminars.

Finance is necessary to secure the clinic's efficient operations. It is needed to pay for the running of the office and for an office secretary. Such means may be obtained from institutions and foundations such as: local government, the Stefan Batory Foundation, the Legal Clinics Foundation, the Polish-American Freedom Foundation, the Embassy of the United States of America (which finances exclusively nongovernmental organizations, which means that the legal clinic would need to hold legal personality independent of the university). It should also be kept in mind that one should not assume that any of the above mentioned institutions will continue financing the clinic indefinitely. The aim of the clinic should be to become incorporated in the curriculum and to build itself a strong position at the university law faculty and, ultimately, to obtain recognition in the form of financing from the university budgets.

It is important in the process of establishing a legal clinic to initiate close cooperation with charitable organizations from a given city (such as city social service, Caritas, the Red Cross, Father Albert Association, offices of members of parliament and parishes), so that such organizations may refer clients to the clinic. Such referral would translate into the lack of need to select cases within a specified type, or to verify the financial status of the clients.

The next step shall be recruiting students to work in the clinic, and the process of establishing the clinic should be concluded with the fulfillment of all standards of legal clinic operations, including civili liability insurance, the proper organization of the clinic's secretary office, and the drawing up of appropriate sets of rules and forms which are going to be used in the clinic.

How to create a legal clinic? - in short:

  • find a patron for your clinic,
  • obtain consent to incorporate the clinic in the curriculum,
  • secure an office,
  • research financing options,
  • initiate cooperation with charitable institutions in your city,
  • promote the clinic and assist with student recruitment,
  • make sure that the clinic meets all standards from the onset of its operations.