Joseph Groner had been waiting for years for disability benefits he was owed from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He spent months as an Army X-ray technician in World War II, exposed to radiation that later led to a cancer diagnosis. After spending years trying to navigate the VA benefits system, in 2011 Groner sought help from John Marshall’s Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic (VLSC). Just two years after working with VLSC staff and students, he finally received the benefits due him. Groner’s story is just one example of the significant impact the John Marshall Community Legal Clinics can have on the lives of clients and the students working for them.
“You teach students how to practice
law and to educate members of the community on what fair housing laws are all about.”
Director, Fair Housing Legal Clinic
John Marshall’s legal clinics are leaders in providing
educational experiences that benefit both the community and students. With one of the most robust clinical education requirements in the country, John Marshall sets the standard for training students to practice the law, while instilling the higher ideals of public service.
The Community Legal Clinics provide pro bono services across a variety of legal issues in 10 fields of practice: Business Enterprise Law, Conflict Resolution, Domestic Violence, Fair Housing, Immigration, International Human Rights, Patent, Pro Bono, Trademark, and Veterans.
Minimum hours each
John Marshall student
is required to earn in
a clinic or externship
“The clinical program is really designed with two goals in mind,” said Anthony Niedwiecki, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. “The No. 1 goal is to provide students with real practice experience working with real clients on real issues. The second goal is, because we really consider ourselves to be a community-based law school, we want to make sure that we provide legal services to the community.”
Every year, John Marshall contributes an estimated $9.4 million to various communities in and around the city of Chicago. The support doesn’t come in the form of a check. It comes in the hours that John Marshall students and staff attorneys dedicate in pro bono work through John Marshall’s legal clinics and externships.
“Because we really consider ourselves to be a community-based law school, we want to make sure that we provide legal services to the community. We have been ahead of other law schools in assessing what employers want and how to prepare our students to meet those evolving needs. The best part is that so many of our students receive incredible hands-on training by contributing back to those in need in their community.”
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Each John Marshall student must provide 168 hours of pro bono legal services before graduating. Students provide more than 74,440 hours per year, and faculty, adjunct professors, and staff attorneys dedicate an estimated 25,480 hours per year. Even at low billing rates of $75 per hour for students and $150 per hour for supervising attorneys, the hours combine to account for $9.4 million in legal service.
John Marshall’s Fair Housing Clinic has been serving Chicago for more than 20 years. The Clinic continues to strengthen partnerships with local fair housing agencies and organizations, as well as with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development and the Chicago Human Rights Commission, and collaborates with the Illinois Department of Human Rights to combat the problem of housing discrimination.
“You teach students how to practice law and to educate members of the community on what fair housing laws are all about,” said Allison Bethel, Director of the Fair Housing Legal Clinic.
In the VLSC, students work on all aspects of Veteran Benefits Administration claims, from the initial, factual intake to the technical representation of claims at the appellate level.
“We provide great legal assistance to vets and tremendous experience to the students,” said Brian Clauss, Executive Director of the VLSC. “The students are the ones who talk to these vets all the time. They’re the first people who take that call.”
Hours students and
staff lawyers work
each year in our
Community Legal Clinics
Joseph Wagner (JD '14) spent five years in the Marines working as an aviation support equipment mechanic. After his tour, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and then enrolled at John Marshall, where he began working in the VLSC.
“The staff attorneys are great; they’re very knowledgeable,” Wagner said. “You learn a lot of fundamental skills in the veterans clinic.” Wagner works as a contracts officer at JPMorgan Chase.
The practical training John Marshall students receive helps fulfill the school’s mission of providing access to legal services, while equipping them with the skills employers need. The training that students receive in part through John Marshall’s clinics has been deemed among the best in the country by National Jurist Magazine. John Marshall earned an A- from the publication, read by current and future law students, law educators, and the legal community.
Dollars in pro bono
services that John Marshall
clinics and externships
provide Chicago each year
John Marshall requires more practical training than most other law schools in the nation. Niedwiecki called the high rating from National Jurist a testament to John Marshall’s mission of getting law students out of the classroom and in front of clients and cases.
“We have been ahead of other law schools in assessing what employers want and how to prepare our students to meet those evolving needs,” Niedwiecki said. “The best part is that so many of our students receive incredible hands-on training by contributing back to those in need in their community.”
John Marshall’s Community Legal Clinics provide students with not only practical knowledge, but also the opportunity to explore the passions that drew them to pursue a legal education in the first place.
Third-year student Angela Huisingh said, “Working at the Fair Housing Clinic has reaffirmed my interest in being able to help people.”