Civil Litigation - Employment Law Clinic

LW.10215 / LW.10625
Professor Laura Sager
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 8 students
Year-long course
12 credits*
No prerequisites or co-requisites.

Course Description

The Civil Litigation-Employment Law Clinic, Full Year, provides two semesters of training in the tasks and skills involved in civil litigation through simulation and fieldwork cases involving employment law. The same subject and format is offered, under different course numbers, as one-semester courses in Fall 2019 (focusing on the pre-trial process through discovery, including depositions) and Spring 2020 (focusing on summary judgment and trial work). The combined enrollment in the full-year course and the semester-long course will be not more than a total of 8 students each semester.

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 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, in state court, or in state and local agencies, such as the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
The Clinic’s docket comes from cases referred by various sources, including the pro se office of the federal courts, other attorneys, and civil rights organizations.  In many cases, the Clinic is co-counsel with outside organizations such as The Legal Aid Society, Make the Road by Walking, an advocacy organization for low-wage Latino immigrant workers; Mobilization for Justice (formerly known as MFY Legal Services), representing low income individuals and persons with disabilities; 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 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.

During the current academic year, Professor Sager has co-taught the course with two adjunct professors who are attorneys in the Employment Unit of The Legal Aid Society, Karen Cacace and Young Lee.  All of the cases on the clinic docket this year have been in conjunction with the Legal Aid Society and students have spent time each week in the Legal Aid office.  The Legal Aid attorneys will not be co-teaching the course next year, but the Clinic will continue to work on the cases we have been involved in during the current year and we are likely to take on additional cases as co-counsel with the Legal Aid Society, and possibly other organizations.

Two cases on the current Clinic docket may still be in litigation in federal court at the start of the Fall 2019 semester.  One is a claim of discrimination (refusal to hire) on the basis of a criminal record in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and New York State and New York City human rights laws.  The other is a case of discrimination on the basis of race (African-American-hostile work environment and termination) and on the basis of disability (HIV-hostile work environment and failure to reasonably accommodate), and in violation of COBRA (failure to give notice).  The Clinic will also take on one or more new cases 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.

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.

Learning Outcomes

By participating in the seminar and working both on real cases and the simulation case, students develop a thorough knowledge of the substantive employment law involved in those cases.  They learn about the key tasks in civil litigation, develop the skills required to perform them, and gain an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the litigation process as a means to resolve employment disputes.

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 have the opportunity to ask questions. She will also be available to meet individually with students who so wish. The Clinic administrator Marie Morrow 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

2017-18 2017-18

Full Year Clinic
Michael Diller
Kathryn K. Evans
Katherine Herold
Dylan Marker
Raya F. Saksouk
Matthew Novak

Fall Semester
Zeinab Bailoun
Megan Stater

Spring Semester
Alex Rubel

Full Year Clinic
Kara Brandeisky
Gina Bull
Esther Kim
Jessica Puterman

Fall Semester
Jeffrey Bishop
Samuel Seaham

Spring Semester
Elizabeth Fisher
Bryan Woll

* 12 credits consisting of 3 clinical credits and 3 academic seminar credits each semester.