Center for Legal and Social Justice

St. Mary’s University School of Law proudly offers three outstanding clinical courses for second and third year law students: the Civil Justice course, the Immigration and Human Rights course and the Criminal Justice clinic course. The clinical courses are dedicated to educating students at St. Mary’s and addressing the otherwise unmet legal needs of low-income people in San Antonio and South Texas.

Mission Statement

To provide a supporting learning environment for law students who, under the supervision of a faculty member, will be the attorney of record for indigent clients who are not adequately served by other providers.

Being a student attorney

Students gain practical, hands-on experience in all aspects of case-handling in each of the clinical courses under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. They interview and counsel clients, investigate facts to obtain and organize evidence, draft legal documents, negotiate with opposing counsel and administrative agencies and try actual cases in district, county and administrative courts.

Serving the community

Students enjoy hands-on advocacy and guide their clients through the legal system by keeping them updated on their cases, explaining the applicable law, preparing them for trial and representing them in different forums. The clinical programs give students a direct opportunity to use their skills to aid individuals in critical need. Through their clinical work, students at St. Mary’s provide significant service to the community by augmenting the legal resources available to serve the people in San Antonio and South Texas.

The commitment required

The clinical work at St. Mary’s consists of a classroom component and a casework component. The classroom segment includes lectures, discussions, group exercises and simulations. In the classroom, students learn the substantive law and lawyering skills necessary for the effective and ethical handling of the cases. For their individual cases, students must commit a minimum of 15 hours per week to regular office hours and legal outreach, in addition to their classroom time.

How to join a Clinical Course

Each Spring, the Clinics hold informational sessions in the Raba building for two days. The dates of these sessions are posted at the law school and published in The Witan. Students are then asked to fill out an application and submit their resume by a set deadline. Sometime before and after Spring Break, students are asked to come in for interviews and to register on the TWEN Clinic Applicants Page. Students are normally notified by e-mail of their acceptance and can receive important information and announcements on the TWEN site.

How to volunteer at the Center for Legal and Social Justice

Student volunteers are an integral part of the work in the clinic. Anyone with an interest in learning more about the nuts and bolts of a public-interest law firm is eligible to apply to the Center’s program. Interested student volunteers should call or write requesting more information about the work of the clinics and how they can apply at the Center.

Volunteers are available to assist the student attorneys, faculty, and staff in a wide range of tasks related to casework, including copying, file organization, research, drafting, intake interviews, front desk management, and hand deliveries. Volunteers also have the opportunity to observe client interviews, visit outreach sites, and assist with other operational activities.

Available Pro Bono opportunities for law students

St. Mary’s University School of Law offers a number of pro bono opportunities for those students wishing to volunteer their time to assist disadvantaged individuals with legal issues. Students participating in these programs perform important legal work on behalf of individuals in the San Antonio, Laredo, and Eagle Pass regions, gain familiarity with the legal process, and provide much needed help to members of their community. In addition, students who meet certain criteria may be awarded a Pro Bono Achievement Award during their graduation ceremony. For more information on pro bono activities, and for information regarding careers in public interest law, please contact the Pro Bono Coordinator.

Clinic Referral Line: 210-431-2596

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