Stanford Law School has launched a new religious liberty law clinic that administrators say is the first of its kind at a U.S. law school. The clinic was established with $1.6 million in seed funding from the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which supports the free expression of religious beliefs regardless of the faith. Unlike many public interest law groups that support religious freedom, Stanford’s clinic will take on clients from any religion, said director James Sonne. “The point of a clinic is to teach professional skills to law students using real cases and live clients,” said Sonne. “We think the religious liberty aspect offers a unique way to do this work, and it’s something the students get excited about. As our culture becomes more diverse, it’s a great way for students to represent clients whose beliefs are different from their own.”
The clinic finds cases largely through referrals from other religious legal advocacy groups, Sonne said. Most cases will deal with the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and Title VII.