Frequently Asked Questions - Students
Students are trained in practical skills through seminars and role playing exercises. Professor Cecka assists students with particular issues related to representation as they arise.
The clinic is graded on a letter scale. Students are evaluated on both their case and seminar work. Professor Cecka will consider various factors, including: class participation; preparation of the legal theory and factual basis of each case; strategic decision-making; case and file management; advocacy, interviewing, and writing skills; adherence to deadlines and office procedures; ability to work collaboratively; and professional responsibility.
Family Law is the only prerequisite. However, even if you have not taken Family Law, you may still be accepted to the clinic if you have had other experience in the fields of family/juvenile law, so do not hesitate to apply. Classes such as Children and the Law, Domestic Violence Seminar, Child Support and Enforcement, Ethics in Family Law, and Collaborative Law, are recommended, but not required.
Because clients understand that a law professor will be supervising all aspects of their case, and after experiencing the attentive and thorough nature of student work, most clients are extremely receptive to student representation.
Students represent clients in teams of two. The number of cases each team is assigned depends on the nature and difficulty of the issues each case presents. However, most teams will have three to five cases throughout the course.
Students perform all tasks required by counsel in the representation of the case. These include case management, interviewing clients and witnesses, investigating facts, drafting documents, and arguing cases in trials, hearings, and other court appearances.
The Family Law Clinic seminar meets for 1 hour and 50 minutes twice per week. Student teams also meet for supervision with the Professor for one hour per week. On their own time, students are required to spend 24 hours per week on casework.
Many of the clinic's clients face non-legal barriers to achieving their goals. Masters of Social Work students and their professor assist the legal team in recognizing and understanding these barriers through comprehensive case management, direct assistance with local agencies, and referrals.
A clinical psychologist aids the legal team in understanding psychological diagnoses and records, making referrals, and developing best practices related to mental illnesses and disabilities.
The clinic is open to 3Ls and 2Ls. However, 3Ls are given preference, as the number of openings is limited. Also, only 3Ls with a third year practice certificate may appear in court, although 2Ls can appear at administrative hearings and will participate in all other clinic activities.