What do students do in this clinic?
Students in the Child Protection Clinic represent parents after their children have been removed from their home. They appear on behalf of their clients at all court hearings, contested trials and on appeal. They also work with social work students to provide support to the parents outside the court system. Students who enroll for subsequent semesters have an opportunity to represent kin and youth involved in the child welfare system. Participation in the Child Protection Clinic meets the experiential requirement in the Child Welfare Certificate.
Scotty Ducharme ’19 tells how his family’s experience with a Legal Aid attorney years earlier inspired him to come to Mitchell Hamline and eventually work in Child Protection Clinic.
Nadine Graves ’17 and Whitney Buchelt ’18 talk about their experience in the Child Protection Clinic at Mitchell Hamline.
Child Welfare Certificate
The Child Welfare Certificate allows student to specialize in an important and developing area of law. Through this certificate students will have an opportunity to focus on child welfare issues, courtroom advocacy, trauma- informed practices, and secondary trauma in the legal system.
What happens in the classroom component?
Discussion of assigned readings, submission of short weekly reflective writing assignments, and discussion of ongoing cases. Weekly topics focus on foundational law, lawyering skills, vicarious trauma, and self-care. Social work students are integrated into the classroom component with law students.
What do students learn in this clinic?
Developing and presenting a persuasive advocacy narrative, effective motion practice, client counseling, and client management. The clinic also exposes students to systemic issues of bias, racism, and poverty in the child protection system and the cyclical nature of child abuse and neglect.
When is this clinic offered?
Every fall and spring
How many credits?
Are students permitted or encouraged to take this clinic for additional semesters?
Because of the nature of the cases, it is common (and encouraged) for students to take an additional semester to continue working on their cases, but it is not required.
Are there any required or recommended pre-requisites?
No formal pre-requisites.
Who should take this clinic?
Students with an interest in representing parents in the child protection system, students who are interested in family law, students who are interested in being county attorneys, students with an interest in domestic violence, students with an interest in social justice advocacy, and students who are interested in individual client representation.
Can students with full-time jobs take this clinic?
Students must have significant daytime flexibility, as the time commitment is likely to vary with the demands of the casework during the semester. Students must be available for 9 hours of court observation at the beginning of the semester and available for approximately three court appearances for each client they represent. A typical caseload is 1-3 cases per semester. Students must also be available for regular meetings with clients and with their supervising faculty member, but the timing is flexible.
Can students who live outside the Twin Cities area take this clinic?
It is not possible for students living outside the Twin Cities area to take the regular Child Protection Clinic.