Restoration and Justice Clinic | Experiential Learning | School of Law | Pepperdine University

Restoration and Justice Clinic

In the Restoration and Justice Clinic students represent victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault and other gender-based crimes. The Clinic's approach to gender-based violence cases is a holistic one, encompassing civil and criminal law remedies and advocacy to ensure that the survivor's legal needs are met. The Clinic is housed in the law school but partners with legal and social service agencies in Southern California to facilitate comprehensive services for our clients and to provide experiences in multidisciplinary practice for our students. Our students are trained to provide direct services to clinic clients, develop sensitivity and competence for representing low-income survivors, and conduct outreach and educational advocacy to inform survivors, service providers, and other interested stakeholders (law enforcement, courts, agencies, legislators, etc.) about victims' legal rights and remedies designed to address gender-based violence.

Students provide pro bono legal services in a variety of civil matters, including family law, domestic violence restraining orders, and other legal remedies available under the Violence Against Women Act. Students also provide criminal case advocacy for victims and witnesses and handle dismissals of criminal convictions, which are barriers survivors typically face to employment.

The Restoration and Justice Clinic aims to train law students through direct representation of survivor-clients to be effective, highly professional lawyers. Students carry and manage their own caseloads and have the opportunity to do hands-on legal work for real clients. Clinic students represent clients in courtroom hearings before judges, as well as in negotiations and mediations with adverse parties and other lawyers in civil and criminal matters. Students spend a significant amount of time counseling and advising their clients, working to understand the client's needs, and zealously representing the client's interests in all the legal systems involved. Students also have the opportunity to do community education and outreach, including teaching the community about domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual assault, and advising communities about victims' rights and legal and social service resources.

Students participate in client intakes, interviewing potential clients who seek legal assistance. In the initial intake interview, students gather information about the potential client's situation, including information about experiences with gender-based violence, and work with the potential client to identify legal needs. Students present their intakes and cases at a weekly case rounds in the seminar portion of the Clinic. At case staffing conferences with the Clinic director, students discuss their intakes and cases, assess factual and legal issues, and are assigned cases. Students will also learn to use the Clinic's case management database for maintaining confidential client records. Clinic students have legal and ethical responsibility for their cases and, under California's law student practice rule, certified law students may appear in court and handle motions and trials on behalf of their clients. Once assigned, the case is the responsibility of the student, but all students practice under the Clinic Director's California law license, meet on a regular basis with the Clinic Director to discuss their cases, and are supervised at court hearings by the Clinic director.