The LAMP clinic and what we do
While LAMP stands for Legal Assistance to Minnesota Prisoners, we like to think of it more metaphorically. The LAMP Clinic serves as a beacon in the dark world of those incarcerated.
The LAMP clinic provides help with all types of legal matters to inmates. LAMP cases range from lawsuits to stop inmate mistreatment to helping an inmate with a divorce to drafting a will.
LAMP does not handle appeals for inmates to contest their convictions.
What do students in this clinic do?
Represent incarcerated persons on civil legal issues, primarily family law, prison conditions litigation and tort defense. The clinic takes cases from the woman’s prison in Shakopee, the men’s maximum security prison in Stillwater, and the men’s medium security prison in Faribault.
Steel County Class Action Lawsuit
The LAMP Clinic brought a class action lawsuit against the Steele County Sheriff. The lawsuit involved Steele County’s pay-to-stay policy; they were charging people for staying in their fine facility. Our position was that their policy violated the law and the Constitution.
We reached a settlement that completely vindicated our position. Steele County agreed to change their policy, refund money that they had taken from people, and award us attorney’s fees. Below are links to the Settlement Agreement and the Legal Notice with the Notice Claim and Opt Out Form.
Professor Brad Colbert talks about the LAMP and Reentry clinics
Colbert appeared on The District Court Show with Judges Elizabeth Strand ’98 and Stephen Halsey ’78 on QCTV Community Television. Full show at qctv.org/districtcourtshow.
What happens in the classroom component?
Students learn about how applicable areas of law apply to prisoners, engage in case round discussion of ongoing cases, and discuss policy issues relating to criminal justice, mass incarceration and reintegration into society.
What do students learn in this clinic?
Students get an insider’s view of the criminal justice system and the prison system in the United States; exposure to civil practice in state and federal district court; and develop skills of client interviewing and counseling.
When is this clinic offered?
Fall and spring
How many credits?
Students may register for 3-4 credits.
Are students permitted or encouraged to take this clinic for additional semesters?
Students are encouraged to continue for an additional semester.
Are there any required or recommended pre-requisites?
Can students with full-time jobs take this clinic?
Yes, but students may need to be available for occasional court hearings and prison visits during weekdays, always with advance notice.
Can students who live outside the Twin Cities take this clinic?
Students need to be available in person for the weekly class meeting and for court hearings and prison visits in Minnesota.
Who should take this clinic?
Anyone interested in the criminal justice system; anyone interested in civil litigation or family law; anyone interested in representing underrepresented populations; and anyone interested in working with interesting people, going to interesting locations, and working on fun cases.
“I am very proud of the skills courses taught at this school, and especially of the LAMP Clinic.”
“… the most valuable and exciting part of my law school experience.”
“I recommend the LAMP Clinic to anyone who is serious about leading a courageous life in the law.”
LAMP students not only have access to the clinic directors and their fellow students for guidance, but can also contact Mitchell Hamline’s reference librarians who are always happy to help students find a form or learn more about Minnesota federal law.
The LAMP clinic maintains a variety of resources and forms for students on its Canvas site which is available to all enrolled students.
Other Course Information
LAMP students spend much of their time researching the law, drafting pleadings, and negotiating settlements. Because LAMP students represent their clients in a wide variety of legal matters, they are exposed to a wide breadth of legal topics and many different causes of action.
Cases in the clinic deal with common law, case law, and statutory law, as well as administrative law, contract law, family law, and much more. This gives students the opportunity to expand their horizons and learn about new areas of law with the support of clinic staff. These skills will serve them well in practice.
Because of the practical nature of the clinic, students graduate with a knowledge of the day-to-day work of attorneys and a collection of skills (and forms!) that will make them employable in a range of legal contexts.