At Cumberland School of Law, students put into practice the knowledge and skills they’ve learned in LLR and their doctrinal classes. In addition to classroom instruction in each area, students will conduct an average of 12 hours per week of out-of-class casework for four to five credits, depending on the clinic and semester it is offered. Cumberland’s clinics also engage core pillars of its mission: public service, professionalism and community.

Capital Defense Clinic

The Capital Defense Clinic allows students to work with the Jefferson County Public Defender’s Office to assist in representing defendants who face capital charges. Students will assist public defenders on a variety of legal issues facing persons charged with capital murder or already convicted of capital murder. In the Capital Defense Clinic, students will assist public defenders in capital cases with tasks including research, case management, client and witness interviewing, investigation, draft motions, hearings, pleas, jury selection, trial and preparing mitigation for the capital sentencing phase of a trial. The course has a classroom component of law, procedure, and legal writing and a fieldwork component.

Contracts and Risk Management Clinic

The Contracts and Risk Management Clinic provides the opportunity for Cumberland second-year students and third-year students to learn about the legal implications of construction, insurance and surety contracts. The clinic will service clients of McGriff Insurance Services LLC (McGriff), part of Truist Insurance Holdings Inc., and one of the top 10 largest insurance brokers in the world.

During the clinic, students review and analyze insurance, construction and surety contracts as well as assist in providing risk management and insurance solutions for McGriff’s clients. Students also analyze legal issues and draft research papers focused on the issues facing the insurance and construction industry.

Criminal Appeals Clinic

In the Criminal Appeals Clinic, students work with appellate attorneys in the Jefferson County Public Defender’s Office, assisting in all aspects of criminal appeals including drafting briefs and related pleadings.

Students will learn advanced appellate advocacy skills and get practical experience with real clients. Students will attend a weekly seminar at the Public Defender’s Office focusing on Alabama criminal appellate law and practice. Those sessions will provide classroom instruction on criminal appellate practice, including instruction in the “fact-centered” method of brief-writing; reviewing trial documents, exhibits, and transcripts; legal research and analysis; and oral argument.

Cumberland Innocence Clinic

The Cumberland Innocence Clinic helps investigative and secure counsel in cases of factual innocence resulting from Alabama convictions.

Photo of Townsend
I could go on forever about the Innocence Clinic and the clinics in general. The Innocence Clinic was the highlight of my time at Cumberland. Participating in this clinic allowed me to learn practical skills and become a stronger advocate while working to (hopefully) reverse a wrongful conviction.Jennifer Townsend, JD ’21

In this four credit clinic, students work on potential innocence claims of several Alabama prisoners. Students will review case records, investigate facts and interview witnesses, draft legal claims, and research avenues of relief. Students may also have opportunities to draft pleadings and pitch cases to pro bono counsel. Innocence claims in noncapital cases are largely unexamined in Alabama, even with the availability of DNA testing, and thus, there have been only a handful of Alabama prisoners who have been granted postconviction DNA testing. This clinic is a start in assessing credible claims of innocence and helping applicants get their cases heard.

Cumberland Parole Clinic

The Cumberland Parole Clinic has partnered with Redemption Earned, a nonprofit formed by retired Supreme Court of Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb. The mission of Redemption Earned is to identify, assist and represent worthy individuals who have spent decades behind bars and who are deemed to have earned parole or work release.

In the clinic, students will be engaged in representing clients of Redemption Earned. Students will learn the process for parole and will screen clients who seek parole, review records of the Department of Corrections to determine whether a prisoner poses a risk to the public, plan re-entry services for potential parolees prepare for and argue parole cases before the Alabama Parole Board. In addition, students will be assisting Redemption Earned with its WIN Project by removing obstacles that are keeping prisoners from entering the work-release program.

Cumberland Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic

The Cumberland Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic (C-VETS) provides free legal assistance to veterans and their families in the state of Alabama. The clinic was launched by the late Judge John L. Carroll, a former federal magistrate judge and U.S. Marine Corps veteran. Kevin Patton, a Birmingham attorney and a U.S. Navy veteran, is the clinic supervisor.

At its core, C-VETS is a classic legal problem-solving clinic. A legal problem is presented, possible solutions are discussed and then the director and the students decide on a course of action. Students may contact someone on the veteran’s behalf, write a letter, refer the matter to another legal assistance program or outside attorney or be involved in the representation of the veteran because the clinic has decided to take the veteran’s case.

Claiborne Crommelin
“Cumberland provides its students with all the information and instruction needed to properly understand the concepts of law, and C-VETS has showed me how to apply these concepts while assisting real people with real legal matters. Working alongside clients, professors, and other student advocates, I have realized just how impactful the service we provide can be due to the Clinic’s student-led approach while assisting our veterans. Because of this, my experience has been humbling and fulfilling, from first introducing myself to clients to seeing their relief and gratitude once their matter has been fully resolved. Moving forward, I know I will look back on my experience with C-VETS proudly and I hope to be able to provide any support I can during my future career.” —Claiborne Crommelin, C-VETS student advocate

Since the clinic began operations, students and attorney supervisors have been involved in a wide variety of matters including landlord-tenant disputes, driver’s license issues, insurance claims, consumer credit and family law issues. The clinic has also assisted veterans in municipal and district courts and represented veterans in getting criminal charges which have been dismissed expunged from public records. Students in the clinic have drafted pleadings, letters and memoranda. They have also drafted wills and estate documents such as power of attorney forms and the pleadings for uncontested divorces.

Students in the clinic will have a significant amount of contact with real and potential clients and will be closely involved with their cases. C-VETS also includes a classroom component to train students in assisting veterans.

The clinic offers students the opportunity to do what lawyers do–solve client problems. Students also receive a unique opportunity to give back to veterans who have served our country while at the same time gaining valuable legal training.