Revamped Civil Clinic marks successes for clients, students
Posted on August 29, 2013
The Law School Civil Clinic celebrated a recent victory when it recovered nearly $9,000 in unpaid wages and statutory damages for one of its clients, a local parent whose former employer paid far less than the federally-required minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Since last spring, the redesigned Civil Clinic has recovered the equivalent of more than 600 hours of unpaid minimum and overtime wages for its clients. Ensuring workers are paid their legally-required wages promotes good working conditions in the region, levels the playing field for law-abiding employers, and benefits the local economy.
The Civil Clinic is also helping to educate the community about workplace rights. During the spring semester, Civil Clinic students Elizabeth Cook and Danica Schweitzer led an informative bilingual workshop on workplace rights for members of the Northwest Arkansas Workers’ Justice Center. Participants learned about minimum wage and overtime pay requirements as well as strategies for protecting and enforcing their rights.
In addition to contributing to positive outcomes for their clients and the community, Civil Clinic students developed practical lawyering skills, including interviewing and counseling, legal research and writing, and negotiation. One student observed, “I believe the legal clinic is the best course I could have taken before graduating and entering the workforce… [It] helped me develop qualities necessary to be a successful attorney, such as organization, professionalism, timeliness, [and] thoroughness, among others.”
The Civil Clinic provides free legal representation to low-income clients seeking to enforce their rights in civil matters, including unpaid wages and appeals from the denial of unemployment benefits. Professor Annie Smith, director of the Civil Clinic, encourages individuals seeking representation to contact the Civil Clinic at (479) 575-3056.
Since 1975, the University of Arkansas Law School Legal Clinic has fulfilled the dual mission of providing experiential learning opportunities for students and much-needed free legal services to the Northwest Arkansas community. The Legal Clinic is an umbrella for the Civil Clinic, Immigration Clinic, Juvenile Defense Clinic, Transactional Clinic, and Federal Practice Clinic. Each clinic offers law students the opportunity to engage in the practice of law under the close supervision of a faculty member.