Penn State
Lewis Katz Building, University Park, PA
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  • Rural Economic Development Clinic

Rural Economic Development FAQ

For students

What is the Rural Economic Development Clinic?

The clinic was created to give students the opportunity to directly represent individuals and entities within the broad fields of agricultural, food, and energy law.

What kind of work do students perform? 

Students may work with agricultural producers, businesses, and landowners on specific projects that may involve transactional work such as preparing and reviewing contracts or other legal documents and providing general legal counsel. Students also may provide services in basic business planning and general research advice along with policy-based work of interest to rural communities.  

Are there any prerequisites? 

While not a required pre-requisite/co-requisite for enrollment, Agricultural Law would be helpful to students interested in enrolling in the clinic. Other general business law courses are helpful as well. 

For potential clients

What is a student law clinic?

All 50 states have laws that allow qualified, upper-level law students to actively represent clients — free of charge — under the direct supervision of law school faculty attorneys. These laws give law students an invaluable hands-on educational experience, providing necessary services and linking law schools to their communities. Clinics provide law students with an opportunity to develop practical skills including interviewing, counseling, negotiation, advocacy, researching and legal writing, and developing legal strategies. Both general skills developed and knowledge of specific legal issues garnered from clinical experience makes clinic graduates valuable to employers — and to the community. Clients of clinics receive the benefit of free, competent, and committed legal representation while helping to provide an outstanding legal education to the region’s future lawyers.

How does the clinic choose cases?

The clinic’s faculty and student attorneys will select cases based on criteria including complexity, novelty, case load, resources, and anticipated duration — with an eye toward sustainable economic development.  Demand for the clinic’s services will be significant. Unfortunately, because of the clinic’s small number of student attorneys, the clinic may not be able to accept all worthy cases. There is no income qualification for representation by the clinic.