The mission of each of the five clinics is to provide 2nd and 3rd year student interns with hands-on opportunities to build and enhance their lawyering skills in both a general and specialized manner while developing a sense of professional identity and community responsibility.
History of Clinical Programs
The Direct Representation Clinic opened in 1990 and is one of the longest -serving clinics in the state. The clinic has dedicated itself to three crucial missions: to provide indigent citizens with legal representation, counsel, or referral; to equip South Texas students with practical legal skills they can use in their future careers; and to instill in these students a commitment of service to the community as a fundamental part of their professional identity as a lawyer.
January, 1971. The college initiated the first criminal law internship in Texas, with the cooperation of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and two Houston defense attorneys. South Texas also initiated civil practice internships
Fall, 1980. South Texas College of Law interns worked at the Neighborhood Justice Clinic, a new program in Houston. The clinic, which presented an alternative to the formal court system, had begun offering mediation to resolve some civil and criminal disputes in Harris County and its vicinity.
Fall, 1989. Academic internship programs revised both to focus students efforts on work for poverty level clients, non-profits, government entities, and the judiciary and to concretely address development of lawyering skills.
Fall, 1990. The South Texas Disability Clinic, south Texas Texas’s first legal clinic, opened its doors at 1602 San Jacinto, formerly a vacant building. Seven students, one faculty member and one paralegal began that clinic program, working in collaboration with area service providers to fill an identified gap in client needs.
Fall, 1991. The law school’s first Mediation Clinic began operation, placing students as third party neutrals to assist disputants in Justice of the Peace courts. The law school’s Capital Punishment Clinic began work with the Texas Resource Center concentrating on convictions from Harris County in both state and federal courts.
Fall, 1993. The HIV-AIDS clinic received faculty approval and became South Texas’s fourth in-house clinic. Student participants in the clinic worked with attorneys involved in the AIDS project of the Houston Volunteer Lawyer’s Program.
Mid 1990’s. The Disability Clinic and HIV-AIDS Clinics were consolidated into General Civil Clinic handling the substantive areas of social security benefits, family law, estate planning, probate and guardianship. The Mediation Clinic was placed on hiatus. The Capital Punishment Clinic was discontinued following dissolution of the Texas Resource Center and students were redirected to Criminal Process academic internships. International Academic Internships were established to place students at International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; that program was later expanded to include student placements in high courts in Jamaica, Guyana and Panama.
Mid 2000’s. The General Civil Clinic was divided into five discrete standalone clinics and a community education – outreach clinic was added. The Mediation clinic was revived.
Late 2000’s. Three new collaborative clinics were added to the program: an immigration clinic, a wrongful convictions clinic (innocence claims), and a domestic violence clinic. A clinic fellowship program replaced the staff attorney model.