Law & Psychiatry Clinic

More Information

  • Eric S. Janus
  • Jean Backes
    Clinic Administrator

Clinic Address

Law and Psychiatry Clinic
William Mitchell College of Law
875 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105

William Mitchell College of Law with the University of Minnesota School of Medicine’s Psychiatry Department

Students in the Law and Psychiatry ClinicNo-Cost Forensic Psychiatric Evaluations

In operation since 1999, the Clinic performs psychiatric and psychological evaluations in a variety of legal settings, including:

  • Juvenile court—disposition, certification, placement
  • Criminal—Rule 20.01, 20.02 evaluation; disposition
  • Civil commitment—release; non-consensual medication (Jarvis); suitability of treatment
  • Guardianship and conservatorship
  • Competency to consent to medical treatment
  • Educational—discipline and special needs


The Law and Psychiatry Clinic is a joint academic project of William Mitchell College of Law, the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Minnesota Medical School, and State Operated Forensic Services.  The Clinic provides free forensic psychiatric and psychological examinations, generally at the request of the attorney who represents the person being evaluated. The clinic also is available for court-appointment.

The Clinic participants are law students, psychiatry residents, child psychiatry fellows, and forensic psychology fellows. The Clinic uses a team model, where law students, medical doctors, and psychologists work together on Clinic evaluations, with the medical doctor or psychologist conducting the actual evaluation (under faculty supervision).  The law student role is that of legal advisor to the team, and also liaison between the referring attorney and the team.  The law students are able to observe the evaluations (with appropriate consents) and participate in case conferences, in which the mental health findings and applicable legal standards are discussed.  Evaluations are conducted either at William Mitchell or on-site in correctional or mental health institutions.

All Clinic participants also engage in mock legal proceedings, with the law students taking on the role of lawyers examining the psychologists and psychiatrists, who act as expert witnesses.

Faculty Supervisors

Sara Gurwitch

Public Defender

Dr. Ian Heath

Forensic Psychiatrist, Hennepin County Medical Center

Dr. Jonathan B. Jensen

Associate Professor, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Minnesota Medical School

Other Faculty

Eric S. Janus

President and Dean, William Mitchell College of Law

Dr. William B. Orr

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota Medical School

John Sonsteng

Professor of Law, William Mitchell College of Law