- Semester: Fall 2023
- Course ID: 697C
- Credit Hours: 6
- Course Type: Clinic
- Grading Method: Pass/Fail Mandatory
- Experiential Credit: 6 credit hours
- Upperclass-only elective
|2:30 - 5:00 pm
Students in the Children's Rights Clinic represent allegedly abused or neglected children in Travis County as their attorney ad litem. The cases are brought by 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 and adoption.
Two very experienced attorneys, Clinical Professors Lori Duke and Leslie Strauch, supervise the representation of clients by the student attorney. 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 can expect to "sit first chair" at hearings, and also is expected to research and prepare the case.
Each student attorney will be assigned a mix of newly filed cases and other cases 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 will have multiple opportunities to appear in court during the semester. 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.
Court is generally Tuesday morning. The class meets once a week to focus on substantive law, procedure, and ethics, as well as child welfare policy. In addition to the classroom component, each student should expect to average about 9 hours per week on clinic fieldwork (for a total of 135 hours). The weekly workload varies. Students are required to visit their child clients. Sometimes these client visits require travel outside of Travis County (with travel reimbursed).
There are no prerequisites for the course. Students, however, must meet Texas requirements for the participation of qualified law students in the trial of cases under rules promulgated by the Texas Supreme Court. The course is pass/fail. There is no paper or final exam. The course counts toward the ABA Experiential Learning Requirement.
An application is required.