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Fall 2011 - Children's Rights

Sampson, John J

Course ID: 397C  Unique # 29510  Credit Hours: 3  (Pass/Fail only)
Meeting DaysTimesLocation
   Tuesday 12:30 pm - 1:45 pm CCJ 3.306
   Wednesday 12:30 pm - 1:45 pm CCJ 3.306
   Thursday 12:30 pm - 1:45 pm CCJ 3.306
Exams:  None
Registration Information
This course is restricted to upper division students only.
You must take at least one the following classes concurrently:
29570 - Children's Rights: Skills
29575 - Children's Rights: Skills
Clinic - APPLICATION REQUIRED. Application and/or instructions on how to apply for this clinic can be accessed on the web:
** This course meets the Professional Skills requirement for graduation.


Students in the Children's Rights Clinic (CRC)represent allegedly abused or neglected children in Travis County District Court as student attorneys ad litem.  The cases are brought by Children's Protective Services (CPS), the local arm of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).  The state may intervene in a family in a variety of ways, including seeking temporary or permanent custody of a child, or termination of parental rights.  Appointment of CRC as attorney ad litem complies with mandatory appointments required by Texas law.

Two very experienced family law attorneys, Clinical Professors Lori Duke and Leslie Strauch, supervise the representation of clients by the student attorneys ad litem.  The supervising attorneys sign pleadings drafted by the students and accompany them at every court hearing, deposition, and trial on the merits.  However, within a week or two a student attorney can expect to "sit first chair" at hearings, and also are expected to research and prepare the case as the attorney-in-charge.

If the case goes to final hearing, student participation will vary from partial to almost total.  Each student is assigned several cases and will have multiple opportunities to appear in court during the semester, primarily on Monday and Friday.  Most of the court appearances involve pre-trial matters or hearings before a judge.  On regular occasion, however, students participate in a bench trial, the majority of which are relatively short.  In some instances, however, a trial to a judge or jury of several days may occur.  Students also participate fully in mediation sessions.  In representing clients students meet with a wide variety of persons, including caseworkers employed by CPS, medical and mental health professionals, teachers, foster parents, social workers, attorneys for the state and for the parents, relatives and friends of the parents, layperson CASA volunteers who serve as guardians ad litem, and police officers.  Most importantly, students invariably meet with the clients and, when appropriate advise and consult with the clients, depending on the age and maturity of the individual client. 

The class meets in "boot camp" the first week of the semester, three times per week for 75 minute classes during the first one-half of the semester, and thereafter at least once per week to focus on substantive law, procedural techniques, and ethical issues.  In addition to the classroom component, each student should expect to average about 12 hours per week working on clinic cases.  The weekly workload varies considerably, depending upon the stage of litigation of each particular case.  Students are required to travel to see their child clients.  These client visits often include trips outside of Travis County; note, mileage is reimbursed for those trips.

Prerequisites.  There are no substantive or procedural law prerequisites for the course.  Students must meet Texas requirements for the participation of qualified law students in the trial of cases under rules promulgated by the Texas Supreme Court, which means to have completed 43 credit hours and not be on scholastic probation.

Students receive six hours of credit per semester on a pass/fail basis.  There is no paper or final exam.

In addition to selecting the Clinic during Early Registration, students must fill out a short application, see

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