Clinics are the law school’s teaching law offices. They are free, community legal services programs that allow students to engage in law practice under close supervision of full time, seasoned expert faculty members.
In the Notre Dame Clinical Law Center, second and third-year students receive academic credit while providing free legal services to individuals, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. The students are trained and closely supervised by full time members of the Notre Dame Law School faculty. In addition to representing clients, the Clinical Law Center’s students and faculty serve the community, the legal profession, and the academy through a variety of educational and law reform efforts. Whether involving litigation, transactional work, or mediation, the clinics place students in a “first chair” position as lead attorneys in their matters, with full responsibility to carry out all lawyering duties. The clinics provide the most intensive training and supervision among NDLS experiential programs, combining classroom sessions with frequent one-on-one supervision.
While learning a host of fundamental lawyering skills, clinic students also provide an invaluable community service to clients who cannot afford legal counsel.
- Community Development Clinic
- Economic Justice Clinic
- Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Clinic
- Mediation Clinic
- Tax Clinic
The Clinical Law Center operates four separate faculty-run clinics. Four of those clinics operate from offices just south of the Notre Dame campus at 725 Howard Street: the Community Development Clinic, the Economic Justice Clinic, the Low-Income Tax Clinic, and the Applied Mediation Clinic. The Intellectual Property Clinic is located on campus in Biolchini Hall of Law.
The Clinical Law Center carries on a sixty-year legacy of clinical programs at Notre Dame, establishing the Law School as both a pioneer in clinical legal education and a model of current, high quality pedagogy. The Legal Aid Clinic traces its roots back to 1951. In that era many members of Notre Dame’s community needed but could not afford legal services. Law School students assessed legal claims presented by students, staff, and faculty, and referred meritorious cases to sympathetic local attorneys.
Over the intervening decades the Clinic has evolved into a fully-functioning law practice capable of representing clients in a wide variety of specialized practice areas. It has achieved formal academic standing with multiple full-time faculty members and has its own office building near campus—a tangible presence in the local community.
The Clinic has also shifted its client focus to stay in step with the needs of the surrounding community. Although its staff and interns still occasionally provide pro bono legal services to members of the Notre Dame family, the Clinic has become an important bulwark of the Northwest Indiana social justice network, providing legal counsel and representation to economically disadvantaged clients in St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties, and other communities throughout the region.
The Clinical Law Center’s mission is to provide effective learning opportunities for law students in the basic skills of law practice through (1) client representation; (2) classroom instruction; and (3) individual mentoring. In fulfilling this mission, the Clinic will strive to serve unmet legal needs of the poor and under-represented in keeping with the Judeo-Christian tradition of working for social justice.
In keeping with the Clinical Law Center’s mission, and with the aspirations and ideals of the Notre Dame Law School, the clinical faculty will endeavor –
- To inculcate high standards of ethical practice by reflecting with students on their legal obligations as attorneys and the moral dimensions of law practice;
- To encourage students to become leaders in improving the administration of justice and to incorporate public service as an integral component of their legal careers;
- To contribute to the development of the law and the improvement of legal education through scholarly and other professional activities.
Clinic StoriesCommunity Development Clinic helps Merriman's Playhouse work toward 501(c)(3) status
Green Bridge Growers was featured in the Wall Street Journal. The Law School’s Community Development Clinic represented Green Bridge Growers in its formation and in obtaining recognition from the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization.
In the Community Development Clinic, advanced law students, certified by the State of Indiana to practice law as legal interns, offer free non-litigation legal services to nonprofits and small businesses. Working under the supervision of Prof. Jim Kelly at the Notre Dame Clinical Law Center, the student interns advise, prepare documents and represent clients regarding a range of business, nonprofit and real estate law matters. For example, we help clients:
- structure and form non-profit organizations, corporations, partnerships, and LLCs;
- counsel boards and staff as to their legal duties and “best practices” in running a non-profit or small business; help qualifying organizations apply for “501(c)(3)” or other tax-exempt status;
- draft and review contracts;
- advise and represent clients on the leasing, purchase and sale of real property;
- help clients understand their licensing, employment and other regulatory compliance obligations.
Student interns can also provide trainings for groups on specific areas of the law and advocate for changes in the law itself when called for.
Upper-level law students work directly with clients, in pairs or individually, and take primary responsibility for all client matters under the guidance of full-time law school faculty. Students receive law school credit and classroom sessions and meetings that provide guidance and support on client issues. Students gain experience working with clients within a structured educational framework, while helping to strengthen underserved local communities from within.
For more information or an application, contact Prof. Jim Kelly at J.Kelly@nd.edu or 574-631-7637.
The Economic Justice Clinic provides free legal services to low-income clients in consumer law matters. Notre Dame Law students, under the supervision of the clinical faculty, represent clients in cases involving mortgage foreclosures, fraud, predatory lending, land contract scams, foreclosure rescue scams, and debt collection. Additionally, the clinic works with local community agencies to provide consumer education to targeted populations.
The Economic Justice Clinic is led by Professor Judith Fox.
While the Economic Justice Clinic accepts cases in a broad range of consumer matters, it gives priority to the following issues:
- Predatory Lending:
- homeowners in danger of losing their home due to predatory lending practices
- individuals, especially those from vulnerable populations, who have become victims of predatory payday lending practices
- individuals targeted for predatory lending practices due to their race, sex, national origin, age or disability
- Fraud and Misrepresentation:
- homeowners, especially those from vulnerable populations, who have become the victims of fraudulent practices of home contractor or repairs
- victims of foreclosure rescue scams
- Debt Collection:
- victims of abusive debt collection practices
- victims of illegal garnishments
IP clinics at IU Maurer, Notre Dame help inventors protect ideas, launch dreams, The Indiana Lawyer, April 18, 2018
The Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Clinic provides students with valuable experience in applying substantive intellectual property law to client problems, and offers assistance to local businesses and entrepreneurs with counsel on intellectual property related issues. Students work under the close supervision of the clinic Director, Jodi Clifford, a patent attorney who has substantial private practice experience.
The clinic is a participant in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Pilot Program.
Information for Potential Clients
The clinic does not charge a fee for its services, but if there are any government fees required for a service, such as a patent application filing fee to the U.S. Patent and Trademark, the client is responsible for those government fees. While the clinic will assist clients on a variety of intellectual property related matters, it is focused on transactional matters and will not handle litigation or contested matters. Exemplary matters include patent searches and provisional patent preparation, trademark searches and registration, as well as intellectual property agreement and licensing issues.
If you are interested in becoming a client, please contact Professor Clifford.
Information for Students
The clinic provides students the opportunity to work directly with clients, develop practical skills, and gain experience counseling and advising clients on intellectual property issues. Under the close supervision of full-time faculty, students will take primary responsibility for the cases and clients to which they are assigned. Students receive five credit hours and are graded on the quality of their work and the amount of responsibility they assume for meeting client needs.
The clinic includes a classroom component focused on substantive intellectual property law and core lawyering skills, such as interviewing and counseling clients. The classroom component is a mixture of lecture, discussion, and simulations. Participation in the classroom component is required for the course.
The Applied Mediation Clinic provides mediation services to individuals litigating civil disputes in the courts of St. Joseph and surrounding counties. Cases include both civil and domestic relations matters, including child custody, support, parenting time, landlord-tenant disputes, contract disputes, and other matters referred by the courts for mediation.
The Applied Mediation Clinic is led by Professor Michael Jenuwine.
The Notre Dame Tax Clinic is a federally-funded Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) that represents clients in controversies with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and educates individuals about their rights and responsibilities as taxpayers.
By assisting clients, Notre Dame Law students gain practical experience in resolving taxpayer disputes with the IRS as well as important experience working closely with clients and developing interviewing, counseling and fact-gathering skills. Students provide direct service to low-income and taxpayers who speak English as a second language, handling all aspects of IRS controversies, including client interviewing and counseling, negotiation, and litigation under faculty supervision. The Tax Clinic provides an important community service through providing free representation in tax disputes to individuals who are otherwise unable to afford a lawyer.
For Potential Clients
In general, the Tax Clinic accepts clients whose incomes fall below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which are based on household size. Notre Dame Law students, under the supervision of Professor Patrick W. Thomas, represent clients in the following areas:
- IRS Examinations/Audits, including Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) audits
- Audit Reconsideration
- IRS Appeals
- Collection Alternatives: offers in compromise, currently not collectible/economic hardship, payment plans/installment agreements
- Collection Due Process Hearings
- Federal Tax Liens
- Tax Levies
- Tax-related Identity Theft
- Tax Return Preparer Fraud
- Innocent Spouse
- Employee/Independent Contractor Misclassification
- US Tax Court Litigation
If you qualify for representation, please call our Tax Clinic at (574) 631-3272 to obtain our current intake schedule. If your income exceeds the 250 percent requirement, you are also welcome to attend an intake and receive advice on your tax matter. However, please note that we may not be able to represent you before the IRS.
Additionally, the Tax Clinic educates taxpayers and community partners on their taxpayer rights and responsibilities through workshops, educational sessions, and Continuing Legal Education. If your organization is interested in a presentation on a tax issue, please contact Professor Thomas.
Please note that the Clinic does not generally prepare tax returns. If you need your current-year tax returns prepared, you should contact a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. Dial 211 or visit the IRS website to find a site near you.
Additionally, although we receive funding from the IRS, the Clinic and its employees and volunteers are not affiliated with the IRS. A taxpayer’s decision to seek assistance from the Clinic will not affect the taxpayer’s rights before the IRS.