What do students do in this clinic?
Representation-track students 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 potentially 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.
Policy-track students work directly with community advocates, child welfare constituents, and legislators on policy reform at the Minnesota Legislature.
Both policy and representation students meet together for a joint, year-long class (2 semesters). Participation in the Child Protection Clinic meets the experiential requirement in the Child Welfare Certificate.
What happens in the classroom component?
Representation-track students meet in class with Policy-track students. Class consists of discussion of assigned readings, submission of short weekly reflective writing assignments, and discussion of public policy and ongoing cases. Weekly topics focus on foundational law, the legislative process, 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?
Representation-track students develop and present a persuasive advocacy narrative, effective motion practice, client counseling, and client management. The clinic also exposes students to alternative dispute resolution methods, systemic issues of bias, racism, and poverty in the child protection system, and the cyclical nature of child abuse and neglect.
Policy-track students gain research and writing skills relating to public policy initiatives. They also develop and present a persuasive advocacy narrative, practice effective motion practice, and develop negotiation and advocacy skills relating to legislative reform.
When is this clinic offered?
Year-long course – fall and spring semesters.
How many credits?
3 each semester.
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?
Representation-track students with full time jobs may take this clinic if they are able to attend an afternoon class (typically on Mondays) and have significant daytime flexibility, as the time commitment is likely to vary with the demands of the casework during the semester. However, students must be available for 8 hours of court observation at the beginning of the semester and for approximately 3 court appearances for each client they represent. A typical caseload is 1-2 cases per semester. Students must also be available for regular meetings with clients and with their supervising faculty member, but the timing is flexible.
Policy-track students with full time jobs may take this clinic if they are able to attend an afternoon class typically on Mondays.
Can students who live outside the Twin Cities area take this clinic?
Students living outside the Twin Cities may take the clinic subject to consent of the instructor.