601:792 Housing Advocacy Clinic (6 credits) (S or WI*)
LE:8; prerequisites: Professional Responsibility, must be in good academic standing.
Exclusion: Students may not simultaneously enroll in the Housing Advocacy Clinic and in the law school's Externship Program or another Clinic. With permission of both supervising professors, exceptions may be made for students who would like to simultaneously enroll in HAC and an Advanced Clinic or Externship II.
Special Note: This course meets four hours per week, but students in the course must also be available at times other than the scheduled class hours to meet weekly with their partner and supervising attorney and as needed to meet with clients and attend court dates. Many of HAC’s clients work during the day, so students must be available to meet with clients in the evening and on weekends if necessary. Students are expected to spend and average of 18-20 hours per week on course and case work outside of class meeting hours.
The Housing Advocacy Clinic is a 6-credit course open to second, third and fourth-year day and evening students. The course consists of both a weekly two-hour seminar component and live-client casework. Students will learn interviewing, counseling, and advocacy skills, along with substantive and procedural law relevant to mortgage foreclosure; landlord/tenant law, including protections available to tenants impacted by COVID-19, and public benefits. The coursework and casework will also present students the opportunity to consider issues in social justice and public policy in the context of housing law.
Students, working in teams of two, will be assigned to represent clients who are at risk of losing their home through rental eviction or foreclosure. Casework may also include representing clients in other types of landlord/tenant matters and in public benefits applications. In all of their casework, students will be closely supervised by the professor who will meet regularly with each case team and provide both guidance and feedback to students.
The exact nature of casework each student may perform will depend on the specific case assigned and the student’s status as a second, third or fourth-year student, but might include:
interviewing a client to determine legal issue(s) and question(s), performing legal research, analyzing the facts in light of the law, preparing a memo and counseling the client based on the research and analysis;
preparing an application for mortgage modification and representing that client throughout the modification process including, potentially, in mediation;
preparing a Request for Information in a foreclosure case and carefully reviewing documents to determine need to submit a Notice of Error to the lender;
representing a client in a landlord/tenant eviction matter;
representing a client in a landlord/tenant habitability matter.
Casework will require students to perform a number of tasks, including:
interviewing and counseling clients;
legal research and fact investigation;
drafting documents such as letters to clients, interview plans, interview memos, counseling plans and memos, persuasive documents, and possibly pleadings and briefs;
engaging with opposing parties and attorneys and court personnel;
preparing for and appearing at case management conference, settlement conference or mediation or in court on behalf of client (students with 56 credits at start of semester who can be certified under New Jersey’s Third-Year Student Practice Rule);
considering and addressing any ethical issues that may arise in a matter;
properly documenting all work done on the case and properly maintaining the electronic case file.
Students are awarded Skills credit for their work in the Clinic. A student may opt to receive Writing Intensive credit instead of Skills credit, but must notify the professor the first week of class if they would like to choose this option for their work in the Housing Advocacy Clinic.