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Mississippi Supreme Court OKs More Student Work for Poor

JACKSON, Miss. ― Law students will be able to do more legal work for poor Mississippi residents under a rule recently approved by the state Supreme Court.

Students attending law schools in other states and those who are not getting course credit for the work can now help attorneys representing people who cannot pay, said Tiffany Graves, executive director of the state’s Access to Justice Commission.

The new rule will provide immediate and long-term benefits, said professor Meta Copeland, director of experiential learning at Mississippi College School of Law.

“More law students can now assist low-income clients with legal issues,” she said in a news release from the state court system. “More lawyers will accept pro bono cases with the assistance of a limited practice student at no cost.”

The new rule supplants a state law which also allowed only state or legal services employees to supervise the student workers.

Now such services can be provided as part of a clinical legal education course, law school legal internship program, or through a volunteer legal services program under the supervision of licensed attorneys, Graves said.

Graves said the students cannot represent clients directly, but may only help a supervising attorney or teacher.

The rule was approved Nov. 19 and took effect immediately.

Students must have completed one-half of the course hours required for graduation if their work is part of a clinical legal education course. If they’re working as interns or for a volunteer program, they must have completed two-thirds of the hours required to graduate.

They cannot be paid wages, but their expenses may be reimbursed.

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