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Jeanette Lipman Legal Clinic for Families and Children

The Jeanette Lipman Family Law Clinic is a litigation oriented holistic defense clinic focused on the representation of parents involved in child welfare and dependency proceedings in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts and Circuit Courts in Richmond. This clinic is led by Professor Fallon Speaker.

The Family Law Clinic has the educational goal of critically examining child welfare law and policy in Virginia and the practical goal of offering students the opportunity to receive hands on in-depth litigation experience.

Students will represent clients in child abuse and neglect proceedings, which often requires them to litigate multiple hearings, and to conduct ancillary proceedings such as: protection orders, custody petitions, guardianship petitions, and appeals. Students will be taught to provide our clients with zealous legal advocacy. To do this, you will learn how to provide holistic legal defense via a model of direct representation; client interview and communication techniques; how to litigate a case from beginning to end; how to draft and file motions; negotiation techniques; and, how to collaborate with community service providers. We will be working with marginalized communities to raise awareness through know your rights campaigns and to work to decrease the number of families involved in the legal system. Additionally, the students will learn how to utilize an interdisciplinary model of defense by collaborating with students and faculty from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work to provide holistic representation to clients.

Student Testimonials

"My favorite part of the clinic was getting to engage with parents and work with them to create a better outcome for their families."

"From learning to develop a cohesive theory to improving technical skills, this clinic has prepared me to be a better litigator."

Class Overview

  • Director: Fallon Speaker (
  • 6 graded credits
  • Time expectations: 17-20 hours/week
  • Enrollment: 8 Students
  • Days and Times:
    • Fall: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-4:30 p.m.
    • Spring: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-5:30 p.m.
  • Grade: Letter
  • Third Year Practice Certificate: Required
  • Prerequisites (can be concurrent):
    • Required: Evidence
    • Recommended: Civil Procedure and Family Law

Primary Areas of Law
  • Family Law
  • Child Welfare
  • Custody
  • Visitation
  • Orders of Protection
  • Civil Litigation & Procedure
Professional Skills
  • Holistic Defense
  • Interdisciplinary Practice
  • Litigation
  • Negotiation
  • Community Building & Engagement
  • Legislative Policy/Advocacy
  • Research
  • Legal Writing
  • Drafting & Filing Court Documents
Collateral Issues
  • Housing Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Mental Health
  • Education Law
  • Social Work
  • Public Benefits
  • Reproductive Justice