Dannnye K. Holley, Dean and Professor of Law

Family Law Clinic

Overview
The Family Law Clinic was created to address one of the most pressing needs and challenges to Texas family law courts--unrepresented family law litigants. In the Family Law Clinic, law students are supervised and managed by Professor Thelma L. Harmon. Our student attorneys represent clients in matters of divorce, conservatorship (custody), spousal maintenance, a division of assets and liabilities, child support, paternity, and name changes. The Family Clinic's primary goals are to provide law students with a quality experiential legal education and to provide high-quality legal services to indigents who would otherwise lack access to social justice. We focus on effectively developing and moving family law cases from initial client interview to final trial and decree.

The course has two components: (1) practicum - Civil Law Clinic and (2) classroom - Civil Trial Practice. Students earn four credit hours for the practicum component and two credit hours for the classroom component. Students must enroll in the Civil Trial Practice course. Students are required to participate in an initial orientation or boot camp the week before classes begin. Further information regarding the dates and times should be obtained from the clinic's supervising attorney.

For the practicum component, students interview and counsel clients, investigate and develop facts, conduct legal research, advocate for clients in court, prepare pleadings and correspondence, and prepare clients and witnesses for trial. Students are responsible for drafting all pleadings-initial and responsive, discovery, etc. Students will learn law office management including, but not limited to, E-filing, file management (electronic and hard-copy), managing schedules, trial dates and hearings, coordinating appointments and meetings, scheduling conference rooms; coordinating with clients, opposing counsel, and court personnel to obtain and provide information and/or documentation related to legal matters.

Students may have opportunities to appear in court and represent clients in both contested as well as uncontested matters. All students also attend regularly scheduled individual supervision meetings with the clinic's supervising attorney to develop and review legal issues; develop and evaluate all strategic options in the case; and examine ethical, moral, and cultural issues that arise in the course of the work.

The classroom component consists of a skills seminar (covering topics such as interviewing, drafting pleadings or correspondence, and preparing for trial and hearings), and discussions of ethics and professional identity as well as of broader issues regarding family law and policy. Students will participate in "case rounds" whereby issues students confront in their casework are discussed in the classroom so that students may learn from each other's experiences, explore legal and practical issues in context, and gain exposure to a broader range of approaches to providing legal services.

Clinic Construct
Prerequisite{s)

Trial Simulation
Process
Submit application, be approved by the supervising attorney. Credits: Six
Duration:
Semester-long
Number of Participants:
8 to 10 per semester
Open To:
2nd semester 2Ls and 3Ls
Average Time Commitment:
12 to 15 hours per week
Case Sources:
Referrals and walk-ins

Student Attorney Responsibilities

  • Provide individual representation of clients in selected cases.
  • Draft pleadings and correspondence.
  • Conduct factual investigations.
  • Observe court trials and/or hearings.
  • Assist unrepresented family law litigants and non-litigants with reviewing various documents and understanding the court process.

Course Information

  • Students earn 4 credit hours for the
  • Practicum and 2 credit hours for the Trial Practice course.
  • Students must enroll in the Civil Trial Practice course – the class component (2 credit hours).
  • Second semester 2Ls and all 3Ls are eligible to apply.
  • At the beginning, the weekly class will be “front loaded” to teach students both substance and procedure so as to hasten their start date to represent clients in court.

Time Commitments

  • Fall and Spring semester(s): 15-20 hours a week.
  • Students' time must be flexible to attend trials, especially Mondays (3-hour time block needed).
  • Students must complete 240 clinic hours during the semester.

To Apply

  • Complete this application. Submit an unofficial copy of your transcript, writing sample, statement of interest to Marilyn Epps in Room 100.

Complete application for bar card ($15.00 fee) once accepted in the program. Applications and money order must be submitted in timely matter. If not, your ability to practice before the bench will be placed in jeopardy. No bar card, no court representation of a client.

NO EXCEPTIONS

  • Your application must be submitted to the Clinic’s Administrative Assistant in Rm. 100 or the Supervising Attorney.
  • For more information contact Thelma L. Harmon, Assistant Professor thharmon@tmslaw.tsu.edu

 

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