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Can the government seize a lawyer's fees to satisfy debts that her clients owe the government? Can a non-citizen be deported after pleading guilty to a drug charge when he was advised by his attorney that he would not risk deportation by pleading guilty?

These are just two of many issues the Supreme Court and Penn students starting this fall will tackle through the new Supreme Court Clinic at Penn Law School.

The clinic will offer students practical experience with the law in conjunction with a semester-long seminar on the procedures and practices of the Supreme Court.

For example, students in the clinic will work on writing a petitioner's brief for Padilla v. Kentucky, the case involving deportation despite attorney advice.

The clinic is being headed by Law professor Stephanos Bibas, a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, as well as a former federal prosecutor.

Bibas' interest in starting the clinic began with his involvement with Padilla v. Kentucky.

He was asked for advice by clinical supervisor and Penn Law lecturer Yolanda Vazquez, who was writing a paper about the case. At the same time, Stephen Kinnaird - Bibas' former law school classmate and chair of the Supreme Court practice in the law offices of Paul Hastings in Washington, D.C. -- contacted Bibas to ask if he would be interested in helping petition the Supreme Court to take the case.

"The idea originated with Mr. Kinnaird," Bibas wrote in an e-mail. "Once he proposed it, and we enjoyed collaborating on the Padilla brief, I embraced it enthusiastically."

The corresponding seminar will be taught by Law professors Amy Wax and James Feldman, both of who are former assistants to the U.S. Solicitor General. Wax and Feldman have appeared before the Supreme Court 15 times and 45 times, respectively.

Penn Law's Supreme Court Clinic will be the first of approximately a half-dozen such clinics in the country.

The clinic also joins seven other similar clinics at Penn Law. The others deal with civil, entrepreneurial, mediation, legislative, inter-disciplinary child advocacy, transactional, criminal defense, and public interest law.

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