CHILDREN'S RIGHTS CLINIC IS A 6-HOUR CLINIC. YOU MUST REGISTER FOR BOTH 397C (CENTRAL) AND ONE OF THE 397D (SKILLS) SECTIONS.
Students in the Children's Rights Clinic represent abused or neglected children in Travis County as their student attorney ad litem. The cases are brought by Child Protective Services (CPS), an arm of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). The state may intervene in a family situation in a variety of ways, including seeking temporary or permanent custody of a child, or termination of parental rights.
Two very experienced family law attorneys, Clinical Professors Lori Duke and Leslie Strauch, supervise the representation of clients by the student attorney 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 is expected to research and prepare the case. Each student will be assigned a mix of newly filed cases and litigation in various stages of development.
If the case goes to final hearing, student participation in the trial will vary from partial to extensive. Each student is assigned several cases and will have multiple opportunities to appear in court during the semester, primarily on Monday and Friday. Some students will have the opportunity to participate in a bench trial. Occasionally students will participate in a jury trial. Students are likely to participate in mediation. In representing clients, students meet with a wide variety of persons, including medical and mental health professionals, teachers, foster parents, caseworkers and social workers, attorneys, layperson CASA volunteers who may serve as guardians, and police officers.
The class meets twice a week to focus on substantive law, procedural techniques, and ethical issues. The class is taught by the director of the clinic, Clinical Professor F. Scott McCown. In addition to the classroom component, each student should expect to average about 12 to 15 hours per week on clinic fieldwork (for a total of 180 hours). The weekly workload varies, depending upon the stage of litigation of each particular case. Students are required to travel to see their child clients. Sometimes these client visits include trips outside of Travis County (which is reimbursed).
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 basically requires completion of 43 credit hours with no 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 need to fill out a short application. For more information see the clinic's webpage.