Bethany Copeland ‘20 and supervising attorney Leslie Strauch ‘95 of the Children’s Rights Clinic after having won their bench trial in November of 2019.After 3 days of evidence and 2 weeks of waiting for a decision from the bench, Bethany Copeland ’20 and supervising attorney Leslie Strauch ’95 of the Children’s Rights Clinic won their bench trial. Working closely with Strauch, Copeland conducted direct examination of several witnesses, including experts, and cross-examination of both fact and expert witnesses. She also researched and wrote a bench memo for the court.
Children’s Rights Clinic
Students represent children in Travis County District Court as student attorneys ad litem in cases in which the state seeks custody or termination of parental rights based on allegations of abuse and neglect. Although the supervising attorneys sign pleadings drafted by the students and accompany the students to formal proceedings, the student attorneys sit “first chair” at hearings, depositions, mediations, and trial appearances, and they research and prepare cases as the primary attorneys.
Cases and Projects
The Children’s Rights Clinic successfully tried two back-to-back jury cases to verdict in February 2014. In both cases, the state sought termination of parental rights. The clinic also advocated termination. The student attorneys participated in the trials from start to finish, including direct and cross-examination of several witnesses. Winning the jury verdicts freed the children for adoption. While we do not try jury cases every semester, the clinic does give every student courtroom experience every semester. Student attorneys actively represent children in all phases of the case, including at court review hearings, contested evidentiary hearings, and mediations. Taking the clinic is a great way to develop lawyering skills.