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The Family and Child Legal Advocacy Clinic offers participating law students education and experience lawyering by allowing students to form lawyer-client relationships directly with clients, to exercise legal judgment and perform legal services for those clients pro bono, including interviewing, counseling, research, discovery, negotiation, motion practice, trials, and appeals. Student attorneys handle civil, legal matters such as divorce, child custody, domestic violence protection orders, stalking and sexual assault protection orders, adoption, guardian ad litem appointments in juvenile and domestic relations cases, and select immigration issues. Law students may also represent children or their parents in child abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, children in need of supervision and delinquency actions. In addition, law students have the opportunity to work together with practicing professionals in the fields of social work, psychology, pediatrics, and psychiatry.
With close support and supervision of experienced and well-trained faculty, law students address the complex legal, social, emotional, ethical, and public policy questions involved in the practice of law. Students draft pleadings and correspondence, maintain contact with clients, attorneys and witnesses and participate in bi-weekly case status reviews of their cases. In addition, students receive training on how to most effectively engage and serve clients with limited means. Students are better prepared to participate effectively in the legal profession with grounding in lawyering skills and values necessary for the practice of law.
Each student must be in the office on average between 5-10 hours per week to complete casework, which includes meeting with clients, negotiating with lawyers, and preparing for and making necessary court appearances. Additional hours may be necessary for clinic seminar, screening potential clients, and mooting for court appearances. Most court appearances are in state trial courts, either circuit or district courts, though there is the potential for an appellate level case as well. Common appearances involve representing persons in divorces, contested child custody disputes, child support or paternity hearings, as guardians’ ad litem in juvenile or domestic relations cases, at mediations, and protection order hearings.
* All clinics are subject to change in terms of content, caseload, and specific course focus in any given year.