Justice in Action.
The Gonzaga Center for Law and Justice is home to University Legal Assistance (ULA), a not-for-profit clinical law program.
The Clinic is modeled after a general-practice law firm. Managed by faculty members, the Clinic gives students the opportunity to apply academics to legal practice.
The Clinic has received the Charles Goldmark Distinguished Service Award from the Legal Foundation of Washington, and the Emil Grumpier Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Trial Advocacy. It also has been recognized by the American College of Trial Lawyers.
University Legal Assistance, Gonzaga Law School’s clinical program, has been in existence over 40 years, since 1975. For spring semester of 2017, we had 36 students enrolled in our 6 clinics:
- Business Law, which helps form small businesses and non-profits, supervised by Steve Faust;
- Elder Law, which represents Spokane county residents over age 60 in a general civil practice with some areas of focus, supervised by Genevieve Mann;
- Environmental Law and Land Use, which engages in litigation and legislative advocacy to protect a clean environment, supervised by Rick Eichstaedt;
- Federal Tax Law, which represents low income taxpayers in disputes with the IRS, supervised by Jennifer Gellner;
- General Public Practice / Indian Law, which represents people in both civil and criminal issues, supervised by Gail Hammer;
Clinic students have represented people before state and federal administrative agencies, in state, tribal, and federal courts, including arguing to the Washington Court of Appeals, Washington Supreme Court, Spokane Tribe Court of Appeals, and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Among other things, students have helped entrepreneurs start small businesses, helped people keep their houses, defended people from enforcement of invalid judgments, represented taxpayers in controversies against the IRS, protected people from domestic violence, defended people against criminal charges, helped resolve family law issues, and helped people get the disability benefits to which they are entitled.
Students apply their knowledge in situations where their actions affect another person’s well-being, where what is at stake might be a client’s property, livelihood, liberty, physical integrity and protection from violence, notification of major changes that can affect quality of life in a neighborhood, access to clean water, access to adequate health care, freedom from illegal discrimination, access to habitable housing, ability to have contact with their children or to protect their children, or a great idea for a small business start-up or nonprofit.
When they experience the reason for all the legal principles they have had to learn, the law comes to life for students. For some, it is a profound, life-changing experience. Something changes when they learn that they can make a real difference, that their analysis has effects in the world, that their words and their actions have power beyond what they imagined, that they can get things done. They learn about themselves and about what they bring to this profession. Some discover that they want to take their careers in a completely different direction from what they thought.
In addition to serving the students, the clinic supports the community by taking on the causes of people who otherwise would have no representation. The clinic supports the legitimacy of the legal system, by helping provide access to it. Students gain a deeper understanding of the law and their professional role and responsibility. Gonzaga gains action in support of its mission. The community gains help for people who otherwise don’t have meaningful access to the justice system.
University Legal Services (ULA) is located in the Center for Law and Justice at Gonzaga University School of Law.
ULA offers assistance to two groups of low-income residents. University Legal Assistance:
- Provides representation, advice and counseling without charge to low-income persons 60 years of age and older who are residents of Spokane County.
- Helps low-income taxpayers with Federal tax problems before the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Tax Court.
Cases are handled by second- and third-year law students under the direct supervision of attorneys.
To Get Legal Assistance:
Apply to University Legal Assistance directly by calling (509) 313-5791 or contact the Northwest Justice Project’s Coordinated Legal Education, Advice, and Referral CLEAR Service.
A directory of other agencies that provide free or reduced cost legal services.
A student may take up to 15 total Clinical Law credits towards graduation requirements.
Each intern represents clients at all levels of the dispute-resolution process, and is responsible (under supervision) for case decisions and attorney-client collaboration.
If the case reaches the litigation phase, the intern handles all aspects of the pre-trial and trial preparation, as well as the trial itself.
ULA interns were the first interns in the state of Washington to try criminal felony cases, the first to try cases in the Federal Court and to argue in the Courts of Appeal.