About the MSU College of Law Clinical Programs
Providing Legal Services for Low-Income Persons residing in Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton Counties
MSU College of Law. Established in 1891, making it the oldest continuously operating independent law school in the nation, the Law College is a privately controlled, nonprofit, co-educational institution devoted exclusively to professional education in law. The Law College was fully accredited by the American Bar Association in 1941 and has been a member of the American Association of Law Schools since 1946. In August 1995, the Law College (a private law school) affiliated with Michigan State University (a public university) for the benefit of both institutions. As part of this arrangement, the College relocated to the East Lansing campus of MSU. The Law College’s curriculum focuses as much on practical application of the law as on academic mastery. With emphasis on service orientation and public interest, MSU College of Law has strong working relationships among academic disciplines at MSU, government agencies, other community-service organizations, and local Bar members.
- Rental Housing Clinic
In January 1999, the Law College began its first clinical program focusing on legal issues pertaining to rental housing. It is operated with the approval and support of the Law College’s faculty and administration. The Clinic is staffed with second- and third-year law students who provide legal counseling, representation, and education to tenants and landlords who have rental housing difficulties. Our service complements other local nonprofit organizations’ efforts at informing tenants and landlords about their rights and responsibilities. And our service furthers those efforts when the rental housing issue is a legal one. The Clinic operates under Michigan Court Rules which permit law students who are supervised by a member of the state Bar to provide legal services to clients.
- Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic
In January 2000, the Law College added another clinical program, the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, allowing us to gain maximum use of our existing Clinic’s resources and allowing students to further concentrate their efforts in taxation. It, too, operates with the approval and guidance of the Law College’s faculty and administration. The Clinic’s goal is to provide low-cost, high-quality legal assistance to low-income taxpayers who have cases or controversies with the IRS or who are non-filers, and to advise persons for whom English is a second language of their rights and responsibilities under the Internal Revenue Code. This program also helps to ensure that law students acquire hands-on experience in addressing and litigating matters before the IRS, counseling clients, and learning law office management. Law students who have met prerequisites for enrollment in the Tax Clinic are permitted to represent low-income and ESL clients under the professional license of seasoned supervisory attorneys.
- Chance at Childhood Clinic
In September 2003, students began to represent abused, neglected, and at-risk children and families as part of the Child and Family Advocacy Certificate Program—a joint program offered by MSU College of Law and MSU Graduate School of Social Work. This clinical program is designed to strengthen the students’ knowledge base, further develop their practice and advocacy skills, and teach them the importance of professional collaboration in a cross-disciplinary approach to problem solving.
- Indigenous Law & Policy Center
The Indigenous Law & Policy Center opens Fall 2004: MSU will offer one of only two formal programs east of the Mississippi River and one of the most comprehensive programs in the nation among American Bar Association accredited law schools. The program will assist tribal governments with their policy-making objectives, including conducting research to create, implement and enhance their legal infrastructures, on a regional, national and international level. Professor Matthew Fletcher directs the MSU program. MSU’s program will offer students the ability to develop a special expertise in indigenous law, policy and practice, with both theoretical and practical learning components provided by an Indigenous Law Clinic and several elective courses.
- Small Business/Nonprofit/Entrepreneurial Clinic
Starting in January, 2005, MSU College of Law's Small Business/Nonprofit/Entrepreneurial Clinic will require students to assume substantial responsibility for representing clients with various business and transactional matters. Clinical residents will explore and begin to develop the fundamental legal skills and professional values involved in practicing law—particularly those in business and transactional law. They will develop an understanding of business logic and the importance of adding value to a transaction. Depending on case assignments, law students will gain experience interviewing and counseling clients, negotiating with other attorneys and parties, planning, negotiating and documenting transactions and dispute resolutions, conducting factual investigations and legal audits of businesses, and monitoring and advising compliance with federal, state and local statutes, rules and regulations.
Clients in our service area—Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton Counties—may telephone or visit our offices, Monday through Friday during general business hours. We are centrally located in downtown East Lansing at 610 Abbot Road. This makes it easy for clients to find us by car, on foot, or by bus. No appointment is necessary. Our offices are handicap-accessible. The Clinics’ legal advocacy program is limited to low-income persons; educational information is made available regardless of income. We charge a nominal fee for our services.