Feb. 9, 2017 - The University of Houston Law Center celebrated its new and expanded clinical office space with a ribbon-cutting celebration on Wednesday.
The complete overhaul includes five interview rooms, two of which have telephone and video capabilities to facilitate mediations and other meetings outside of the Houston area and abroad; new offices for the program's nine faculty members as well as staff; and a new reception area to give clients and students the feel of a real law office.
UH Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Paula Myrick Short and Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"Clinical legal education is so important because students want to be practice-ready," Baynes said. "It's very important for us to have a space that represents the quality of our students and faculty. It also provides the clinic's clients a space that's like any other law office, where they have security and safety in terms of representation, and where they feel welcome.
"I want to congratulate the Law Center," added Short. "The Law Center is one of the crown jewels of the University of Houston. The legal profession is so important, and this is a law school that is moving forward and making decisions for the right reasons."
The new facility, completed this fall, brings previously scattered offices together in one area and allows for further growth of the clinical program.
"The clinic space now reflects the professional setting that corresponds with the legal services our clinic students and talented faculty provide to the community," said Associate Clinical Professor Janet Heppard, director of the Clinical Legal Education Program as well as the Civil Practice Clinic.
The Law Center's clinical program gives students the opportunity for hands-on practical experience by providing legal services in six practice areas: Civil Practice, Consumer Law, Criminal Defense, Entrepreneurship & Community Development, Immigration and Mediation.
"The clinic allows students to work on the types of cases they would handle in their first five years of practice," Heppard said.
In 2016, the clinics' 95-plus students mediated more than 1,500 cases in Justice of the Peace Courts and the Dispute Resolution Center and worked more than 20,000 clinic hours helping immigrants, indigent families, consumers, small businesses and non-profit organizations in Harris County and surrounding areas, according to Heppard.
"I love the clinic renovations; the improvements made to the public client space and the student workspace will allow our program to continue growing," said Thelma Baines, program manager.