• Fowler School of Law

    Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic

    Impacting national public policy

» Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic

The Fowler School of Law Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic offers students the opportunity to gain real-world experience and three (3) units of clinical class credit by doing substantive work on important trial and appellate cases.

For the past decade, the clinic has taught students about the original understanding of the Constitution and put those lessons into practice by crafting arguments to federal appellate courts and the United States Supreme Court. Affiliated with the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence (CCJ), clinic students conduct research and prepare appellate briefs, including petitions for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court and amicus briefs.

Most significantly, clinic briefs have been cited by appellate judges and Supreme Court Justices in their opinions. Justice Thomas cited the clinic’s brief on behalf of the Claremont Institute’s CJC in his dissenting opinion in Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, 133 S.Ct. 2247, 2266 (2013) (Thomas, J. dissenting). The clinic’s brief in another case was cited by Ninth Circuit Judge N. R. Smith in his dissent in American Trucking Associations v. City of Los Angeles, 660 F.3d 384, 412 (9th Cir. 2011) (N.R. Smith, dissenting).

Beginning fall 2015, the clinic is expanding to offer more trial-level litigation opportunities. In collaboration with Pacific Legal Foundation, students pursuing the trial litigation track will have the opportunity to litigate important property rights and economic liberty cases in federal and California state trial courts. Clinic students will have a hands-on role in every case, including research, drafting complaints, discovery requests, preparing summary judgment motions and oppositions to motions to dismiss, attending client meetings and court hearings. Students will also be introduced to the key elements and best practices of strategic litigation, including client and issue selection, communications strategy, causes of action and remedies, and unique pitfalls in suing the government (including doctrines concerning standing, abstention, governmental immunities, and mootness, among other topics).

The clinic is directed by Professors John Eastman and Tom Caso. Adjunct Professor Larry Salzman, an experienced property rights trial attorney, supervises the clinic’s trial-court program.

The Student Experience

  • Jennifer T. ('11)
  • Erik B. ('12)
  • Jennifer T"This clinic provided me with hands-on knowledge about how to write briefs for the courts of appeal and also how to navigate the procedural rules and requirements for getting those briefs filed in court. Once I graduated and began practicing law, I felt confident to know where to begin in appellate practice because of my experience in the Clinic. And that experience certainly made me more useful to my employer who could rely on me to take charge of my own cases – both substantively and procedurally. " -Jennifer T. (J.D. '11)
  • Erik"I practiced law for the first time at the Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic. The Clinic provided me the opportunity to take what I had heard about in class and to put it into practice. I had the opportunity to help write an amicus brief that was submitted to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on a landmark case involving cutting-edge environmental issues and age-old federalism concerns. My experience at the clinic proved very valuable both in the remaining semesters of law school and in my job practicing environmental law. My experience at the clinic was also impressive to prospective employers when I was applying for summer associate positions. I highly recommend the Clinic for anyone who wants to gain the real-life experience of what practicing law is like."

    -Erik B. (J.D. '12)

+ - Course Information for Students

This 3 unit clinical program provides students an opportunity to work on pending litigation representing clients or drafting amicus curiae briefs in high profile cases raising significant issues of constitutional law. Depending on the availability and current status of cases, students will, under the supervision of the course instructor or cooperating counsel, draft briefs for filing with the United States Supreme Court. Students may also have the opportunity to prepare initial case strategy, conduct client interviews, research legal issues, draft a complaint and prepare it for filing, draft discovery plans and requests, prepare summary judgment motions, draft appellate briefs, and perhaps, and, depending on the jurisdiction, argue a motion before the trial court or the case before an appellate court.

This course will satisfy the Practical Writing Requirement OR the Lawyering Skills Requirement; one course cannot satisfy both requirements at the same time.

Recent news

The Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic is ranked sixth nationally among organizations that regularly file amicus briefs urging Supreme Court review. Read more »

Tom Caso

Professor Tom Caso

"Students rarely, if ever, get the chance to see how the principles underlying the founding of this nation are relevant to the issues facing us today. The Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic shows students how use those founding principles to argue for an interpretation of the Constitution based on original understanding to continue to protect liberty."