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College of Law

Clinic: Family and Child Legal Advocacy

Course Number: 6934
Professors: Dona Playton
Credit Hours & Type of Credit: 3
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Required: No
Prerequisites: Successful completion of two-years of law school (must include Professional Responsibility).
Recommended Courses: Family Law, Domestic Violence and the Law, Children and the Law, Civil Procedure, Evidence, Professional Responsibility (required and may be concurrent enrollment), and Trial Practice

Course Overview: The student interns in this clinic, under the direct supervision and mentoring of the Faculty Director, handle a wide array of cases including divorce, child custody, domestic violence protection orders, stalking orders, guardian ad litem appointments in juvenile and domestic relations cases, and other family law matters. In addition, law students represent children or their parents in child abuse and neglect cases, termination of parental rights, children in need of supervision and delinquency actions. Clinic students may travel to the Wyoming Women’s Center to discuss legal issues and to represent qualifying inmates.   Working with real clients with real problems allows law students to begin the lifelong process of becoming thoughtful, responsible, and reflective lawyers. Clinic students gain critical skills in communication, information gathering, persuasion, and legal and factual analysis that prepare them to address the complex needs their clients will present.  Students gain legal experience critical to the practice of law while, at the same time, incorporating how to professionally and ethically represent a client.   Students learn to find the right combination of zealous and compassionate advocacy, are challenged to consider how the practice of law may be reformed and to embrace the professional responsibility of assisting those who may otherwise be barred from accessing the legal system. 

Course Format: Each student must be in the office between 5 and 10 hours per week. Additional office hours may be necessary to complete casework, which includes meeting with clients, negotiating with lawyers, and preparing for and making necessary court appearances. Most court appearances are in state trial courts, either circuit or district courts, but appellate opportunities may also be available. Common appearances involve representing clients in divorce, contested child custody disputes, and other family law.
Written Assignments: Drafting all necessary pleadings, correspondence, and case status review reports.  A written course evaluation, including a self-evaluation component, is also required.
Type of Exam: N/A
Basis for Grading Student Performance: Students receive a letter grade based on learning outcome, legal research and factual investigation, legal analysis, teamwork, ethical responsibilities and written and oral communication skills (a full rubric is available). Students must work at least 150 hours in the clinic, actively participate and prepare for the seminar portion, and complete all tasks to the satisfaction of the Faculty Director.

Other Comments: Preference is given to students with third year standing. Offered for a letter grade. The Family and Child Legal Advocacy clinic is limited to 6 students, with additional students upon the Director’s approval.  If the registration is oversubscribed additional students will be placed on a waitlist.

Suggested coursework includes Domestic Violence Law, Family Law and Children and the Law.

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