Civil Litigation - Employment Law Clinic, Semester-Long

LW.12356 / LW.12357
Professor Laura Sager
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 8 students

Fall and Spring semesters
6 credits*
No prerequisites or co-requisites.

Course Description

The Civil Litigation-Employment Law Clinic, Semester-Long, provides one semester of in-depth training in the tasks and skills involved in civil litigation through simulation and fieldwork cases involving employment law. In the Fall semester, the classroom and simulation focuses on the pre-trial process through discovery, including depositions. In the Spring semester, the classroom and simulation focuses on summary judgment and trial work. Students work on the Clinic’s docket of cases in both semesters. Students who wish to take both semesters should apply for the full-year course, which is listed under a different course number. The combined enrollment in the full-year course and the semester-long course will be not more than a total of 8 students in both the Fall and Spring semesters.

The Clinic represents individuals in claims of (1) employment discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, age and disability; (2) violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (denial of leave and retaliation); and (3) violations of the minimum wage and overtime pay laws. Most of the Clinic cases are in federal court, although some are in federal agencies such as the EEOC and the Department of Labor, or in state court.

The Clinic’s docket comes from cases referred by the pro se office of the federal courts, other attorneys, and civil rights organizations. From time to time the Clinic acts as co-counsel with outside organizations such as Make the Road by Walking, an advocacy organization for low-wage Latino immigrant workers; the Legal Aid Society and MFY Legal Services, Inc. (two legal services organizations that represent low income individuals); and Legal Momentum (formerly known as the NOW Legal Defense Fund), an advocacy organization for women’s rights.

The work that students do on Clinic cases spans the full range of litigation tasks performed by attorneys. These include meeting with the clients, interviewing witnesses, conferring or negotiating with opposing counsel, taking depositions, and appearing in court for scheduling conferences, argument of motions, evidentiary hearings, trials, and appeals. Much of the fieldwork involves drafting documents such as pleadings, discovery requests, correspondence with opposing counsel and the court, deposition outlines, and briefs. Typically, two students work on each fieldwork case. However, more than two may work on cases that are particularly complex or demanding.

Some of the cases on the current Clinic docket may still be on our docket in the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters. They include (1) a claim of pregnancy discrimination on behalf of a woman who was fired shortly after telling her supervisor that she was pregnant; (2) a claim of sex discrimination against the New York City Housing Authority for failing to hire a woman in the position of Bricklayer; (3) a claim on behalf of a live-in domestic worker of failure to pay minimum wage and overtime; (4) a claim of a home health care worker that she was denied employment because of an arrest record that had been sealed after the charges were dismissed; and (5) a claim on behalf of a woman who was terminated from an apprenticeship program by the electrical workers union after she had complained of sex discrimination in the workplace.  When these cases come to an end, we will add new cases to the docket to ensure that all students have a broad and full experience of the litigation process.

The seminar component of the course deals with the substantive and procedural law related to Clinic cases. The goal is to give students the opportunity to experience and reflect on how the rules of civil procedure and the rules of evidence operate in the real world of federal litigation. Students participate in simulation exercises derived from prior Clinic cases. These exercises include initial and on-going case planning; drafting pleadings, discovery requests, motions and briefs; arguing motions; taking depositions; and performing trial work, including direct and cross-examination of witnesses, opening statements, and closing arguments. The simulation exercises in the fall semester focus on the first half of the pretrial process, through discovery and motion practice. The simulation exercises in the spring semester focus on the latter part of the pre-trial process and trial work.

On average, students spend about 20 hours per week on the course. However, the workload may be heavier or lighter at different times during the semester depending on the demands of the fieldwork cases and simulation exercises.

Application Procedure

Students who are interested in taking the Clinic should submit the standard application, resume and transcript online through CAMS. Professor Sager will schedule times to meet in small groups with applicants who would like more information about the course and the opportunity to ask questions. She will also be available to meet individually with students who so wish. The Clinic administrator Steve Bautista will contact applicants to schedule the group information sessions and any individual meetings with Professor Sager. These meetings are not mandatory and applicants are not selected based on attendance.

Student Contacts


* 6 credits consist of 3 clinical credits and 3 academic seminar credits each semester.