Since 1969, the Civil Justice Clinic has educated law students through this type of access to justice representation combined with seminar work. The Civil Justice Clinic strives to provide ASU law students with the training, supervision, and field experience necessary to become effective lawyers. We do so by undertaking projects that advance the public interest and provide quality representation to individuals who need pro bono representation.
Since 2008, the economic downturn has resulted in a wide range of civil legal problems for Arizonans. In addition to skyrocketing foreclosure rates, unemployment remains high, and families are struggling to balance their responsibilities at home and work. Many Arizonans cannot afford legal representation and usually navigate legal matters without assistance.
In response to the foreclosure crisis, the Homeowner Advocacy Unit established in 2011 through a three-year grant from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. The program provides a valuable public service while training new attorneys in the skills needed to become effective advocates on behalf of distressed homeowners.
Students enrolled in the Civil Justice Clinic’s Homeowner Advocacy Unit work on civil disputes, administrative proceedings, legislative lawyering, and community education matters involving fraudulent schemes against homeowners and renters, foreclosure avoidance, predatory mortgage lending cases and related issues.
With faculty supervision, students are responsible for all aspects of representing Clinic clients, including: case selection; interviewing and counseling clients; fact investigation; theory and advocacy strategy development; analyzing options for changing employment and housing law and policy; drafting demand letters, pleadings, motions, appellate briefs, settlements, and policy documents such as white papers, amicus briefs, analysis of pending legislation, comments to administrative agencies, or testimony; and representing clients in negotiations with other parties, administrative hearings or at oral arguments in state or federal court.
The Civil Justice Clinic Homeowner Advocacy Unit also includes a mandatory seminar component that focuses on the relevant substantive law (such as laws relating to real estate lending, home loan modification programs, foreclosure law and ADR) and training/simulations on relevant skills (such as courtroom advocacy, fact investigation, interviewing, counseling, and settlement negotiation).
Students are expected to spend at least 300 hours in the Clinic during the semester, which is approximately 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters and 30 hours per week during the summer semester. The Clinic is a graded course (6 credits), based on established criteria, including diligence and thoroughness in representing clients, and classroom participation.
The Homeowner Advocacy Unit accepts clients referred by the Arizona Foreclosure Task Force as well as other community organizations who work with distressed homeowners.
In addition to helping distressed homeowners, the HAU works on public education and outreach efforts with community groups. These efforts include presentations on foreclosure and mortgage-related matters to community groups as well as Continuing Legal Education presentations for attorneys who are seeing more clients with mortgage-related legal issues.
The Civil Justice Clinic does not accept clients on a walk-in basis. At this time, the only new matters the Clinic is considering without a referral from a community partner is the denial of unemployment insurance benefits. If you are a homeowner with mortgage problems or are facing foreclosure, please contact the Arizona Foreclosure Task Force for assistance at 1-877-448-1211 or visit the task force website at www.azforeclosureprevention.org.