After the first year of study, students are encouraged to obtain practical experience at John F. Kennedy University College of Law's law clinics or through placement with government agencies, public interest firms/clinics or private law firms. During this experience, students engage in a wide array of legal activities and experiential learning - legal research, drafting legal documents, client and witness interviewing, and trial preparation. Participation is for academic credit.
The clinical opportunities available through the College of Law are the Housing Advocacy Clinic, the Elder Law Clinic and the Children, Family and Law Program, in addition to off-campus field placements for internship credit. In these clinics, students are able to take on the responsibility of all aspects of legal cases under the close supervision of the Clinic director. Each student obtains the status of certified legal intern from the State Bar of California and appears in court as a legal advocate for their clients. Students attend a weekly seminar to discuss the various cases as well as to develop strong lawyering skills. During these classes students learn the substantive and procedural laws related to the specific clinic's area of speciality. The classes also include discussion of practice skills (including interviewing skills, legal drafting skills, courtroom etiquette and procedures) and professional responsibility issues related to representation of clients.
Housing Advocacy Clinic
The Housing Advocacy Clinic is an innovative collaborative effort between JFK University College of Law and Northern California's largest legal aid provider, Bay Area Legal Aid. Law students provide direct representation to low-income clients facing the imminent threat of a loss of their housing.
The Clinic represents defendants in Superior Court unlawful detainer actions, provides assistance to clients in Rent Board proceedings, advocates on behalf of tenants with habitability defects and in fair housing matters, and provides counseling at the San Francisco Tenants' Union and Project Homeless Connect.
The Clinic strives to meet the two-fold purpose of teaching students to be advocates for social justice through direct hands-on experience and instruction in lawyering skills and values, and of providing quality legal services to low-income tenants in the Bay Area and other disadvantaged and under-served groups.
The Clinical Director is Ora Prochovnick, who has thirty years of experience in landlord-tenant litigation and related housing matters.
Elder Law Clinic
Elder Law is one of the fastest growing areas of legal specialization in the country. It requires a command of complicated substantive areas of state and federal law, as well as a high level of ethical competence. The goal of the Elder Law Clinic is to provide students with the opportunity to represent elders in court and in transactional matters concerning planning for death, incapacity, and a variety of other issues.
Students participating in Clinic provide free legal advice and representation to low income individuals sixty years and older in Contra Costa and other East Bay Counties. Clinic students represent clients in restraining order hearings (addressing issues of elder financial, emotional, physical abuse) and provide legal advice and counsel, engage in factual investigations and conduct legal research concerning the issues raised. Students also receive significant experience in drafting simple wills, powers of attorney, and health care directives for low income individuals sixty years and older. Clinic Students may also provide legal advice and representation to individuals over sixty on matters such as health care, medicare, medi-cal and other public benefits.
The Clinical Director is Pamela Zimba. Ms. Zimba has practiced law for 25 years, specializing in Elder Law.
Children, Family and the Law
JFKU College of Law offers a specialized curriculum in Children, Families and the Law (CFL) for students who plan on practicing law in this vital and expanding field. The legal skills, knowledge, and experience required for practitioners in this area have grown exponentially with the evolving definition of family. Issues often intersect and overlap in areas of family law, juvenile law, domestic violence, adoption, parentage, guardianship, immigration, and elder law. Exposure and experience in multiple doctrines and settings is necessary for effective practice in these related areas of the law.
The CFL curriculum provides interested students both the traditional substantive law and specific practice skills needed to become talented practitioners in the field. CFL course work will augment doctrinal and skills courses with experiential learning and a thorough examination of the ethical responsibilities of lawyers specific to this practice. Students are placed in internships which focus on developing practice skills such as interviewing and counseling clients; working with interdisciplinary forensic experts in related fields such as accounting, estate planning, and mental health; expert witness preparation; and drafting actual pleadings and agreements used in practice. Students will also gain firsthand experience in the jurisdiction and practices of local courts handling these matters.
Commissioner Josanna Berkow (Ret.) serves as the faculty advisor for the CFL Program. Commissioner Berkow served over 20 years on the Contra Costa County Superior Court bench, where she presided over thousands of child custody, child and spousal support, marital property division, paternity, and domestic violence disputes.