Incarcerated parents often face great barriers to establishing or maintaining relationships with their children. One of the main reasons is that there is a lack of awareness on the part of court officials and other attorneys involved in the family court system of the importance for most children to have some meaningful connection and contact with both parents, even when he or she is in prison. In the Family Law Project (FLP), students have the opportunity to help incarcerated parents and their children by representing male and female prison inmates in divorce, paternity, custody/placement and child support cases in various stages of litigation.
The FLP is available to a limited number of students who have finished their first year of law school. Each student will be responsible for all aspects of managing his/her own caseload, including interviewing and counseling clients; interviewing witnesses; drafting opinion letters; investigating claims; drafting and filing pleadings; negotiating settlement agreements with opposing counsel or parties; writing trial briefs; and preparing for and conducting hearings before family court commissioners and circuit court judges. Additional projects may be offered, such as updating pro se family law materials and presentations to inmates, attorneys and/or court officials.
Students work full time during the 12-week summer session, receiving 7 credits for part of their work, and a stipend for the other part of their work (approximately $2,500 plus tuition remission for the summer credits). The students' summer clinical experience will include a weekly classroom component related to the theory, practice and procedure of family law.
Students in FLP are expected to commit to continuing with the project during the fall and spring following the summer experience. Due to the length, complexity, and often-changing facts involved in family law cases, a one-year commitment is necessary to achieve the full educational value of the project.
During the fall semester, students will enroll for 4-5 credits of LAIP to continue to work on their FLP cases. The fall commitment will include a weekly small group meeting. During the spring semester, students will enroll for 3-4 credits of LAIP to continue working on their cases. Due to the Supreme Court’s student practice requirements, it is typically during the spring semester that students are able to actually appear in court and conduct hearings on behalf of their clients.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Clinical Assistant Professor Leslie Shear, at firstname.lastname@example.org.