• Chapman Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic
Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic

» 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 Professor Tom Caso. Adjunct Professor Larry Salzman, an experienced property rights trial attorney, supervises the clinic’s trial-court program.

The Student Experience

  • Sayuri E. (JD '17)
  • Mallorie S. (JD '17)
  • Jeremy T. (JD '16)
  • Jennifer T Participating in the Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic allowed me to gain more practical experience than in any other law school classroom setting. I not only had the opportunity to work closely with seasoned attorneys on a written workpiece from beginning to end, but as a second-year law student, I was able to contribute to an amicus brief that was submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States. Moreover, the skills and insight I gained from having so much autonomy over my work-product will be invaluable when I begin to practice law. This clinic has been my most rewarding experience in law school."

    - Sayuri E. (JD '17)

  • Erik

    "The Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic has given me the distinct opportunity to work along side distinguished faculty members in a law firm environment. The clinic has not only allowed me to acquire and employ important practical skills, but has also provided me with an extremely unique opportunity as a law student to help draft amicus briefs that were submitted to the United States Supreme Court and the D.C. Circuit. Being able to go through the entire drafting process – from determining the particular procedural requirements to crafting a persuasive argument – is a skill I know will prove to be invaluable throughout my legal career."

    -Mallorie S. (JD '17)

  • student Jeremy T."The clinic was one of the most rewarding experiences I had during my time at Chapman University, Fowler School of Law. I was able to learn firsthand how to find and develop cases designed to vindicate important constitutional rights. I researched potential claims and defenses, and drafted a complaint alleging regulatory takings and unconstitutional conditions imposed on a client's property rights. The skills I learned in the clinic are ones that I will be able to apply in future trial and appellate litigation. My experiences directly led to my decision to seek employment in the area of public interest strategic litigation, working to vindicate the same important constitutional rights and principles that I was exposed to in the clinic."

    - Jeremy T. (JD '16)

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+ - 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."