Working in partnership with the Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project (CBAP), this clinic will provide students with the opportunity to learn, through direct representation of clients, Chapter 7 bankruptcy law and practice within the context of an impoverished client bases. Students will interview clients and provide debt counseling and budget review. In cases where debt counseling will not provide a client with the opportunity to stabilize their finances, the student, supervised by the clinical supervising attorney will represent the client in a pro bono Chapter 7 bankruptcy in order to discharge a client's unsecured debts. Through CBAP's Fresh Start Clinic, clients gain access to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court system and experience the powerful legal tool that bankruptcy offers. Students will become sensitized to the reality of living in poverty in Philadelphia. Clients come to CAP, as a last resort, after having tried to resolve their financial difficulty on their own. Most of the clients file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy as the result of an unanticipated catastrophic life event such as a funeral, injury on the job, loss of employment, interrupted spousal or child support, illness, or loss of a car that greatly restricts employment options. As with all clinical courses, students will participate in both a classroom and practice component. The classroom component will provide students with an understanding of the complicated procedural and substantive legal issues involved in counseling and representing clients seeking bankruptcy relief. The classroom component also will provide an ongoing forum for students to explore the economic, psychological, cultural and socio-economic ramifications of bankruptcy as well as the ethical implications of consumer bankruptcy practice. The practice component will emphasize all aspects of representing bankruptcy clients from intake to final disposition.Note: This clinical is a two-semester commitment. Only students who have Law 540 Evidence (Grade of C or better) and Law 460 Trial Advocacy I or Law 558 Introduction to Trial Advocacy (ITA) will be permitted to represent clients in court.
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Additional Time Requirements
The classroom component will take place on Wednesday mornings at 11 am at the offices of the Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project in Center City Philadelphia. Note that it is essential for students to be available for the entire day on the first Wednesday on which the clinical takes place for orientation - a crash course in what students will most need to know to start working immediately. Students should expect to work approximately 8-10 hours a week in addition to the classroom component. This will vary week to week depending upon the caseload. Over the course of each semester, this means that each student should log a total of 112-140 hours of practice or work time, not including the classroom component.
This clinical is a two-semester commitment. Register in section F21. You will be automatically registered in S21 in the Spring.