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.
Submit application, be approved by the supervising attorney.
Number of Participants:
8 to 10 per semester
2Ls and 3Ls
Average Time Commitment:
12 to 15 hours per week
Referrals and walk-ins
Student Attorney Responsibilities
Time Commitments (Practicum)