Clinics and Externships
All students at W&L Law are required to gain actual practice experience in their third year through enrollment in one of the School's six legal clinics or participation in an externship. In this way, third-year students help to meet the need for legal assistance in the region and, at the same time, develop client contact and advocacy skills. The faculty have developed programs that deliver lawyering up close: tough lessons and real-life decisions that the profession deals with every day.
This clinic represents physically disabled coal miners and their widows under the federal "Black Lung" benefits program. This includes preparing appeals to either the Benefits Review Board or the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Students in the Civil Rights and Racial Justice Clinic address racial and economic justice using critical race theory as their foundation. Students provide direct legal representation in housing and employment matters, develop and conduct know-your-rights workshops, and engage in strategic policy advocacy and reform grounded in the needs of the community. In the required classroom component, CRRJC students engage in simulations, lawyering skill exercises, and self-reflection to enhance their lawyering toolbox and gain historical and social context to legal issues.
Students in the Community Legal Practice Center represent lower income Rockbridge area residents in a general practice law firm setting. In the clinic, students assist their clients with the entire range of civil legal concerns, including family law (including child custody, adoption, and adult guardianship) and end of life planning issues.
Students in the Criminal Justice Clinic represent indigent people facing criminal charges in local trial courts.Typical cases include assault, larceny, possession of marijuana, DUI, and destruction of property.
Students in the Immigrant Rights Clinic the primary legal representatives for non-citizen clients in immigration matters, providing legal services to persons in removal proceedings, both detained and non-detained, and with a particular focus on vulnerable populations such as refugees, unaccompanied minors, and victims of domestic violence.
Students in the Tax Clinic represent income-eligible taxpayers who have post-filing controversies with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and/or the Virginia Department of Taxation.Typical cases include representing a taxpayer who is under audit, appealing an audit, challenging an assessment, navigating collection issues, or requesting "innocent spouse" relief. In certain cases in which the taxpayer has not succeeded in resolving the problems with the IRS, the clinic might pursue litigation in the U.S. Tax Court.
Externships at Washington and Lee offer students the opportunity to work in placements off-campus as part of a unique educational experience that moves the student toward the world of legal practice. Placements include externships with State and Federal Judges, Commonwealth, City, and County Attorney's Offices, United States Attorney's Offices, Offices of the Public Defender, Corporate and University Counsel, Legal Services, Bankruptcy Trustees, private law firms, governmental agencies in Washington, D.C., and other legal agencies and organizations.