Real Cases. Real Experience.
Students must have completed 43 credit hours prior to enrollment pursuant to rules promulgated by the Supreme Court of Texas for the supervised practice of law by students.
6 credits (pass/fail) — offered Spring 2014, Fall 2014
Students must register for Law 397C and 397D, for a total of six credits.
The Children’s Rights Clinic (CRC) is appointed by the civil district courts of Travis County to represent allegedly abused and neglected children who are the subjects of suits filed by Child Protective Services. This is a hands-on family law clinic where student attorneys ad litem represent children under the supervision of CRC’s clinical faculty (two full-time, in-house attorneys). Student attorneys ad litem are assigned six to eight cases in varying stages of litigation during the semester. After receiving their supervised practice card, students serve as “first chair” counsel in court hearings, prepare pleadings, attend mediations, and, in some cases, participate in trials on the merits. Student attorneys must:
Although the Clinic is often appointed in the dual role of attorney and guardian ad litem, lawyers appointed to represent children are, first of all, lawyers. As attorneys ad litem, students are expected to take seriously their professional responsibilities to their clients, to the court, and to the profession. Prospective students may review the ABA Standards of Practice for Lawyers Who Represent Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases, at http://www.abanet.org/child/repstandwhole.pdf.
The CRC’s classroom component, taught by Professor John J. Sampson, focuses on substantive law, procedural techniques, and ethical issues. Professionals involved in Child Protective Services cases (judges, mediators, caseworkers, and prosecutors) also regularly speak to the class. For the first month of the semester, the class meets twice each week on Wednesdays 11:50 am to 1:05 pm and Thursdays from 10:30 am to 12:20 pm; thereafter, classes are held once each week.
Students should expect to average at least 8 to 12 hours per week working on their cases and in the Clinic office, located on the fourth floor of the Connally Center. The weekly workload varies substantially, depending upon the stage of litigation of each case. Because some clients are placed in substitute care outside of Travis County, students may be required to travel to meet with them. Routine hearings on cases are usually scheduled on either Monday or Friday. Mediations and other necessary case meetings may be scheduled throughout the week.
Advanced credit is available for students who have completed the course and have approval from clinical faculty.