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).