Charlotte School of Law Students Contribute to Inclusion of Student Practice Rule in Western District of North Carolina

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Change Allows Qualified Law School Students to Assist Indigent Clients Under Direct Supervision of a Licensed Attorney

Law students enrolled in Professor Jason Huber’s Civil Rights Capstone class at Charlotte School of Law played a direct role in drafting changes that will allow them, and their future classmates, to apply the theory they learn in the classroom to practice in court and with clients.

The newly adopted Student Practice Rule for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina will allow law school students who have earned a set number of credit hours, and who are in good academic standing, to work with indigent clients under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina did not have a provision that allowed students to engage in this practice, Huber said, largely because there was not a law school located within the Western District until Charlotte School of Law was established in 2006. The students conducted extensive research of various state and federal student practice rules before submitting a proposed draft to the federal court. Huber’s students worked with U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer and Clerk of Court Frank Johns in revising the draft rule, the final version of which the Board of Judges adopted in the newly amended Local Rules of Civil Procedure on January 1, 2012.

The Student Practice Rule helps indigent individuals and public interest organizations that could not otherwise afford proper representation in legal matters. This practice also reinforces provisions stated in the school’s mission pillars by furthering students’ practice-ready preparation while also serving an underserved portion of the population that, without this service, would not otherwise receive proper legal representation.

“It’s very much the same situation as medical students who, toward the end of their studies, embark as interns and work directly with patients in a hospital under the direct supervision of a doctor,” Huber said. “It’s an invaluable experience for the students and for the clients who are afforded quality, ethical and zealous representation which they otherwise may not have had.”
Students and now-graduates who were involved in the rule-making process include John Arco, Kevin Beck, Brian Chapman, Jeffrey Ellingsworth, Hector Henry, Tanea Hines, and Kevin Vidunas.

About Charlotte School of Law
Charlotte School of Law, fully accredited by the American Bar Association, offers a student-centered orientation that focuses on the hands-on learning needed to equip graduates with leadership, management and interpersonal skills needed for career success. As the only law school in North Carolina’s most populous city, Charlotte School of Law offers full-time and part-time day programs as well as an evening part-time program for working professionals. On the Web at http://www.charlottelaw.edu.

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Sharon Reichard
Charlotte School of Law
704.971.8508
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