South Royalton Legal Clinic
Teaching Students to Become Effective Advocates
The South Royalton Legal Clinic serves residents from several Vermont counties who are unable to afford counsel and who need assistance with issues such as children's rights, immigration, family law, housing, welfare and unemployment, health care, Social Security, consumer protection, bankruptcy, contracts, wills, and statutory civil rights. Working under state and federal student practice rules, more than 80 Vermont Law School student clinicians and work-study students help to represent clients in 250 court and administrative hearings per year. The clinic has trained many of the leading providers of pro bono legal services in Vermont.
Our Clinical Program
Under the guidance of experienced staff attorneys, VLS students represent clients in state and federal court, and administrative hearings. They develop court cases from start to finish, from interviewing and counseling clients; conducting negotiation, research, case and statutory analysis, and discovery; to writing briefs and motions, preparing the case, and presenting at trial. VLS students have been involved in Vermont Supreme Court and U.S. District Court cases that have set precedents or clarified important points of law.
The clinic experience is often transformational for students, whose values and careers can be deeply shaped with strong appreciation for, and deep commitment to, public service. The clinical program also can be transformational for clients, whose rights are protected through the high-quality legal aid they receive. Second- and third-year JD students may work in the clinic full-time (13 credits) or part-time (6 credits) for one semester.
The Core Program offers a wide range of civil legal assistance, including representation in matters as varied as divorce, child support, disability, juvenile, bankruptcy, wills and guardianships, and unemployment.
Children First! Legal Advocacy Project provides a voice in the legal system for children in families with a history of domestic violence or whose parents are so embroiled in bitter disputes that the courts appoint independent advocacy.
The Vermont Immigrant Assistance Project (VIA) provides pro bono legal services to the most vulnerable immigrants in complex cases, including victims of domestic violence, refugees, and asylum seekers.
The Prison Projects provide family law information and assistance to inmates at Vermont’s Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, and advocate for improved access to the courts for prisoners with child support obligations.
Since 1997, the South Royalton Legal Clinic has partnered with the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services, and Vermont Legal Aid to provide representation to victims of domestic violence throughout the state. Federal funding for this project, suspended in 2013 due to budget cuts, is expected to be restored in 2014.