Students will benefit from having some prior exposure to issues that arise in the clinic. It is desirable but not necessarily required to have taken one or more of the following: Bankruptcy, Secured Transactions, or Real Estate Transactions.
Students may enroll in this clinic for up to a total of 6 units over two semesters. They can also take it for just one semester, either 2 or 3 units.
Students in this clinic will be placed at Southern Arizona Legal Aid (SALA), where they will work with homeowners at risk of losing their homes. Students will be supervised by experienced attorneys and learn to interview clients about their debt problems, to organize clients’ finances and come up with sustainable budgets, and to sort them according to needed relief, whether it is a negotiated mortgage modification without use of the courts or a bankruptcy filing as a means to save a home.
The two main projects of the clinic in the short term are helping borrowers with negotiated mortgage modifications outside of bankruptcy or, where non-judicial foreclosure has already been started, putting borrowers into bankruptcy, often to pursue modification there as well.
Students will learn how to apply for mortgage modifications and how to advocate on behalf of clients during the application process. They will also learn to prepare bankruptcy cases, including the work of drafting schedules of assets, liabilities, income, and expenses, and other paperwork. The main focus will be on interviewing, counseling, negotiation, and preparation of needed paperwork for non-bankruptcy modification or for bankruptcy. Students also will help prepare debtors for the First Meeting of Creditors in bankruptcy, conducted by a bankruptcy trustee to examine each debtor about the debtor’s financial situation. These are non-judicial hearings, at which judges are explicitly forbidden by law to appear. There will also be opportunities to attend these meetings as well as Bankruptcy Court hearings, although court appearances in the legal aid cases are few and far between, so representation of clients in court is unlikely during the clinical placement.
Students must devote a minimum of 50 hours of clinic work per credit hour awarded (150 hours for three credits). They also will keep journals and meet regularly with Professor Braucher both one on one and in groups to discuss what they are learning and the challenges they are encountering and ways to address them. Students will be encouraged to articulate lessons of more general application about effective techniques of interviewing, counseling, and negotiation, the main forms of assistance that students will provide. Students are also likely to have opportunities to do legal research and writing on issues that arise in the cases.
Training materials at SALA. No purchase of materials.
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Enrollment limit: The clinic will be open to 10 students per semester and will be offered both fall and spring. There will be an application process, with spaces awarded based on preparation through course work and other experiences.
Eligibility criteria: Clinic students will be selected on the basis of relevant course work and experience, such as a prior summer volunteer position at SALA, an externship for a bankruptcy judge, or work experience as a paralegal in bankruptcy practice or as a loan officer prior to attending law school. Students will be selected for the clinic based on their academic records, their course preparation (such as having taken Bankruptcy or Secured Transactions or both), and their prior experiences.
Applications: The application process will precede enrollment. Students who are accepted will be guaranteed enrollment.