LAW 5950: Unemployment Compensation Practicum - 2181

Unemployment Compensation Practicum
Class Term:
Fall Term 2017-2018
Catalog Number:
Class Number:
Class Schedule:
Tuesday, Thursday
4:30 pm
5:20 pm
LAW 121
2 (1 Contact, 0 Field)
Graduation Requirements:
"W" Writing
Professional Skills
General Enrollment Course
Full Year Course:
Standard Courses

Additional Information

The Practicum is staffed by Attorneys John Stember and Dan Berlin of Stember Cohn & Davidson-Welling, a downtown Pittsburgh union-side, labor and employment firm. John Stember has directed the Pitt Practicum since its inception and has represented thousands of claimants over his career. In private practice since 1966, he previously worked at Neighborhood Legal Services and co-directed the UC clinic at Duquesne Law School. Dan Berlin has practiced civil rights and human rights law since 2009, and he regularly represents claimants in UC hearings and appeals throughout Western, PA. Detailed biographies can be found at
The UC Practicum is a 2-credit course – 720 minutes (eight 90 minute sessions) of classroom time and at least 52 hours of field work. Students may choose to work on cases in the spring semester for additional credit.

Grading Details

Students will be graded based upon class attendance, client interaction, hearing preparation, and management of case deadlines.


This course provides a clinical option that combines components of a traditional law school clinic and an externship at a legal services or public interest law firm. Representing claimants in unemployment compensation (“UC”) cases can provide law students with a meaningful trial advocacy experience. For the first three weeks, classes will meet twice a week so students can get up to speed on the substantive law and trial practice skills. Subsequent classes will include bringing in Referee to conduct mock hearings and a Commonwealth Court judge to discuss appeals. By week three, students will meet with and begin interviewing clients at the Pitt Clinic Offices, research applicable law, gather evidence, and conduct hearings before a Referee. The Practicum Supervisors will meet with students at additional times to assist them in preparation for hearings. The Supervisors will accompany each student to their first and perhaps a second hearing. For subsequent hearings, other students in the practicum will accompany the student attorney to observe his or her performance and provide feedback. In addition to representing claimants at hearings, students will file and draft briefs to the UC Board of Review and to Commonwealth Court. Students will submit a weekly journal which contains their analysis of their case preparation, the hearings themselves and their progress. Also, students will help update the Unemployment Compensation Manual, which John Stember has edited for a number of years and which has been published by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI).

Unemployment Compensation Practicum