Clinic webpage: https://law.ucla.edu/academics/experiential-education/clinics/dog-administrative-hearings-clinic/
This four-unit course adds value to your transcript by documenting your experience analyzing and making legal decisions from the perspective of a judge. After receiving sufficient training during the class, students serve as hearing examiners in “potentially dangerous animal” and nuisance (barking dog) complaint proceedings for the City of Los Angeles Department of Animal Services (“LAAS”). This includes practicing important adjudication-related skills, such as taking oral testimony and evaluating written evidence in order to analyze the facts of incidents involving dogs in relation to statutory factors for determining whether the circumstances of a dog’s ownership should be changed for the sake of the dog and public safety. The goal is to keep dogs in their families and to promote responsible pet ownership, in accordance with legal requirements. Students learn experientially about substantive and procedural law pertaining to administrative agencies, administrative hearings, and constitutional due process requirements in the context of administrative law adjudication. They receive considerable practice assessing the reliability of testimony submitted under penalty of perjury, analyzing facts in relation to statutory factors in order to make a fair decision in each case, and writing objective, persuasive reports that include recommended outcomes. Students’ hearing reports and recommended dispositions of complaints become part of a record that can be used in appellate legal proceedings in the agency and in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Although specific to administrative agency adjudication, the course is ideal for any student interested in a career involving litigation, including serving as a judicial officer. The easily accessible subject matter—complaints about potentially dangerous and nuisance (barking) dog cases—allows students to focus on development important and transferable practical legal skills. These include legal questioning technique, how to distill relevant facts from far-ranging testimony, and how to put together written evidence and oral testimony to produce a persuasive, fair legal argument.
During the training period of approximately 4 weeks, class will meet every Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 pm at UCLA Law or downtown at Los Angeles Animal Services. Topics we will cover during training include the following: relevant laws, requirements of a fair administrative law hearing, questioning of witnesses to develop a complete record from which to analyze the statutory factors, consideration of terms and conditions that can be placed on owners for continued ownership of their dogs, how to write legally sufficient reports, and how to construct the file that goes to the General Manager. Students will also observe LAAS hearings and conduct simulation hearings as part of their training.
After completion of the training period, students will begin working in pairs to conduct two LAAS hearings on Friday every other week. Due to this schedule of alternating Fridays at LAAS, students will not be able to take any other course that meets on Fridays, although they may arrange an alternating Friday work schedule with an employer.
On hearing days, one hearing will take place in the morning, and one will take place in the early afternoon. One student is the primary hearing examiner in the morning, while another student serves as the secondary hearing examiner. In the afternoon hearing, their roles are reversed. After the two hearings on each Friday, each student will take responsibility for the report for which they were the primary hearing examiner. The report will include recommended actions to be taken by the General Manager of LAAS. The report is based on a straightforward template.
Students will also meet for class at UCLA Law every other Wednesday (beginning after the 4th week) for discussion of cases and skills necessary to conduct hearings and to write legally sufficient reports.
Class and hearing attendance, including participation in the training, are essential. Students will receive one letter grade for all four units of credit at the end of the fall semester. The grade is based on successful completion of all the requirements, including hearing attendance, report quality, meeting production deadlines, and participation in classes at UCLA Law and in discussions at LAAS.
There are no course prerequisites for this class, but there is a required application procedure and work agreement. Enrollment is limited to six students. Since this course involves live client work for which there is a lot of detailed planning and collaborative work, students may not drop the class after the first week of class without permission of the instructor.