Access to Justice Clinic - Prisoner Civil Rights Division

The Access to Justice Clinic – Prisoner Civil Rights Division is a 2-credit clinic that focuses on addressing barriers to justice for prisoners seeking civil redress for state mistreatment. Students in this division of the Access to Justice Clinic will work on and be exposed to various stages of civil torts litigation. Students will support Professor Saltzburg as part of a litigation team representing the family of a deceased Maryland incarcerated person who was murdered by other inmates while prison guards stood by and failed to intervene or a similar case.

Credits: 2 credits CR/NC (one semester)
Types of Matters/Cases: State and federal civil rights litigation
Skills Gained: Client interviewing and counseling, fact gathering, problem-solving, case planning, collaboration, litigation, legal research and writing, system analysis and reform.
Prerequisite or Co-requisite: 2Ls and above
Recommended Course: College of Trial Advocacy (6683)
Additional Application Requirements: None
Selection Process: Application review

Contact Us

The George Washington University Law School
Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics
Access for Justice Clinic
2000 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20052


Laurie S. Kohn
Steve Saltzburg

Information for Students

Students work either individually or in teams of two and will engage in client interviewing, counseling, legal drafting and research, and working with co-counsel to develop litigation strategy.

Students also are engaged in lawyering work. Students will work closely with Professor Saltzburg on all projects and receive extensive feedback on their research and writing. Students in the Access to Justice Clinic – Prisoner Civil Rights Division will leave this intensive clinical experience with insight into the court system, the role of a lawyer in access to justice, and the ways in which our system is justice and unjust. They will also leave having engaged in lawyering work for litigants under the close supervision of experienced clinical faculty who seek to support students in their professional development, their lawyering skills, and their professional identity formation – all of which will serve students in their marketability and their job performance.

Students in this Clinic enjoy the same close supervision and mentorship that is a hallmark of the GW Clinics as well as the certification to practice as student-attorneys. The time commitment and scope of lawyering work involved in this Clinic, however, are far more limited than those in our traditional 4-6 credit clinics.

Seminar and Faculty Supervision

In the 1-credit seminar, students focus on client counseling and interviewing, research and drafting, strategic thinking, and ethics. Classroom exercises prepare students for the legal work they will engage in. In the seminar, students also learn the substantive law they need to engage in their lawyering work. Finally, in seminar, students consider access to justice and how to reform our legal system to address bias, discrimination, and injustice. The seminar is taught collaboratively with faculty who direct other divisions of the Access to Justice Clinic.

Students will meet with their supervisors on a weekly basis outside of the seminar to review and discuss the case and client counseling. Supervisors review and provide feedback on all documents and on all client counseling sessions.

Information for Prospective Applicants

Students will be selected based on their potential to provide high quality, client-centered legal services to our client population. Faculty will consider students’ interest in and commitment to civil rights litigation, civil litigation practice, advocacy on behalf of incarcerated persons, and/or litigation generally. Students who have not yet been able to explore these areas should not be deterred from applying but should explain in their applications their interest in and enthusiasm about working on these issues.

Interested students must fill out the Uniform Clinic Application from the Law School's student portal website under "Clinics," where a complete set of application instructions are posted at least a few weeks prior to registration. Students may contact Dean Kohn or Professor Saltzburg to discuss the Clinic generally or to ask specific questions. Permission of the professor is required prior to registration. Students may not enroll in a Field Placement and a Clinic at the same time without prior approval of both departments.

Time Commitment

This 2-credit clinic is intended to provide a clinical experience to students who may not have the ability to devote more credits or time to lawyering work. At the same time, students will be engaged in the practice of law, which can be unpredictable and demanding. Students will be expected to devote an average of 7 hours per week to their Clinic work. The work will ebb and flow during the semester, requiring substantially more work when working under a particular deadline and less work between deadlines. We ask that students be prepared to be as flexible as possible and that they understand that litigation schedules are often driven by judges and clients rather than by lawyers. Students are required to attend a full-day Orientation either the weekend before classes begin or the weekend after.