College of Law > Academics > Experiential Learning > Legal Clinics > Croak Community Legal Clinic

Croak Community Legal Clinic

​Fall or spring semester: 3 credits

The Croak Community Legal Clinic, DePaul Law School’s newest clinic, launched in Fall of 2019. Students in the Croak Community Legal Clinic provide legal workshops and presentations on specified topics to DePaul students and the broader DePaul and Chicago community. Immediately after these presentations, students, under the supervision of an experienced attorney, provide limited-scope representation to attendees on the topic covered at the event. As part of the workshops and presentations, students collaborate with university partners and community organizations to connect with people who need legal help. The Croak Community Legal Clinic is a rare experiential learning opportunity for those students interested in community organizing, community education, and community empowerment.

Students learn about issues of access to justice, which the National Center for Access to Justice (NCAJ) defines as “the opportunity to understand the law and obtain its protection.” Due to limited resources, many people are forced to represent themselves when they encounter legal problems. Students in this clinic will help fill this justice gap by educating people about the legal system, providing them with resources, helping them understand their rights and responsibilities, and allowing them to better represent themselves in a legal situation.

Students in the Croak Community Legal Clinic are also integral contributors to a Student Legal Resources website and online self-help center, which will be a resource for DePaul students seeking legal assistance.

Students can enroll in one of two components of the Clinic: Civil Legal Services or Criminal Justice.

Civil Legal Services

This section of the clinic focuses on helping people address civil legal problems. Civil legal assistance can help people access basic necessities like public benefits, housing, and healthcare. It can ensure safety and stability by assisting people with family law matters, domestic violence, and educational issues. And, it can support individuals’ economic security through employment, tax assistance, and consumer protection. Students in the clinic have given the following workshops in the past: a clinic to help self-represented litigants file for divorce, a training on tenants’ rights, and a seminar on dealing with debt. 

​For Fall 2020, the Civil Legal Services section of the clinic will address the legal issues that have become particularly acute during the COVID-19 pandemic: evictions and employment.​

Criminal Justice

This component of the clinic focuses on issues of criminal justice, such as knowing your rights in encounters with law enforcement and dealing with a criminal record. 

For Fall 2020, the Criminal Justice component aims to provide a vehicle for students to channel their legal energy, support their legal activism, and prepare students with the legal tools to support and protect impacted communities. Students will support community activism by helping residents and fellow students know their legal rights, including rights of protest, and provide brief legal consultations in the community.   

The Croak: Criminal Justice Clinic has two components – the Clinic seminar and the Clinic workshops:

  • In the Clinic Seminar, Clinic students will explore the legal history of the hyper-criminalization of people of color that has prompted demands for greater police accountability. Students will have the opportunity to think critically in Seminar about incarceration, policing, and public safety, and how the tools of a lawyer can extend outside of the courtroom in addressing these issues through sharing of legal information and tools to disrupt structures of power.
  • In the Clinic Workshops, students will not be handling direct case representation, but instead delivering workshops to fellow students and those in the Chicago community and brief counseling services to clients on topics such as Know-Your-Rights regarding interactions with law enforcement and rights of protests, and engaging in preventative lawyering by helping to educate Chicagoans about their legal rights to prevent more residents from becoming a part of the legal system.

 


Course Information


Instructor: Sarah Baum (Civil Legal Services) or Tony Thedford (Criminal Justice)
Instruction: This course is a combination of lecture, in-class discussion, skills instruction, and client counseling
Number of Students: Up to 6 per semester (For Fall 2020, the Criminal Justice component will accept up to 10 students).
711 License: A 711 license is not required to participate in the Croak Community Legal Clinic
Prerequisites: None.
Eligibility: Only rising 2L and 3L students are eligible to apply. Evening students are encouraged to apply.

History of the Croak Community Legal Clinic
The clinic is named after Rev. Thomas M. Croak, C.M., a Vincentian priest and lawyer who dedicated his career at DePaul to educating students and standing up for access to justice. Rev. Croak started the Croak Student Legal Services to provide legal resources to DePaul students. The Croak Community Legal Clinic is an outgrowth of that program and a continuation of Rev. Croak’s dedication to knowledge, education and public service.​