Child Advocacy Law Clinic
Each year, the foster-care system cares for approximately 400,000 children. Legal cases involving these children raise complex questions. Should the child have been placed in foster care? What types of services should be put into place to reunify the family? Is the termination of parental rights warranted? Should the child return home to her family or be adopted by relatives or foster parents? These are but a few of the challenging questions faced by students in the Child Advocacy Law Clinic (CALC), a seven-credit clinic open to second- and third-year law students. Students taking this clinic represent children, parents, or the Department of Human Services in court cases that may be located in one of six counties. Each student team has a mix of child-welfare cases representing each of the three major roles, so they get to see and understand the lawyer role from different vantage points and with different concerns and interests. More...
Child Welfare Appellate Clinic
Students in the Child Welfare Appellate Clinic will get an opportunity to improve their writing, research and oral advocacy skills by representing parents in direct appeals to the Michigan Court of Appeals of orders terminating their parental rights. Students, working in teams of two, will handle all aspects of the appellate case including reviewing the record, researching the legal issues, preparing the brief and handling the oral argument. Students may also have an opportunity to work on drafting amicus briefs and applications to the Michigan Supreme Court. There are no prerequisites for the course.
Domestic Relations Mediation Clinic
Students will participate in a full Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Office-approved 48-hour training in the facilitative mediation of domestic relations disputes. Students must be able to participate in all days of this training. After completing training, students begin mediating actual cases. These will involve custody, visitation, and move-away disputes through the Washtenaw County Circuit Court. Students are expected to commit at least a half day each week mediating. The experience is helpful for those who wish to mediate in their careers as well as those who will focus on representing parties in conflict. Learning to mediate will vastly improve any lawyer's critical skills in interviewing, counseling, advocacy, and negotiation.
Juvenile Justice Clinic
In the Juvenile Justice Clinic (JJC), students represent minors charged with violations of the criminal law and status offenses in Michigan's family courts. Students have first-chair responsibility for JJC clients and their cases. This responsibility means that students directly engage in, and reflect on, the practice of law while in law school, under the supervision of experienced professors. While primarily a litigation clinic, students may, from time to time, handle appellate matters and may be involved in public-policy issues. More...
The Legislation Clinic will provide students with an opportunity to observe and participate in many facets of the legislative process and policy advocacy. The clinic is intended to expose the student to the policy issues, legal analysis, drafting, and political process required to successfully advance a proposal through the legislative process. Prior experience with child welfare is not required.
For many years the Child Advocacy Law Clinic (CALC) has engaged in occasional legislative advocacy for child welfare reforms. (Child welfare includes legal and policy issues regarding child maltreatment, children in foster care, and suspension and termination of parental rights) Over these many years, the CALC has served as legislative counsel for various clients, including reform commissions, organizations and individuals. In one instance we served as "of Counsel" to the Michigan Lt. Governor?s Office and worked on a package of bills she was supporting.
We have decided to formalize this occasional legislative advocacy in a separate clinical offering. The clinic will identify clients and policy reform issues that seem ripe for action but require the boost of research, drafting, developing relations with stakeholders, and collaboration with supporting legislators.
Students will first jointly select projects for the semester based on a preliminary list of topics and clients generated by Professor Duquette. To learn about the process and challenges, we will hear from various speakers early in the semester including the Legislative Service Bureau, government officials, lobbyists and our clients. We will travel from time to time to Lansing to meet with legislative leaders and staff. Students will draft legislation in partnership with our clients, stakeholders and the Legislative Service Bureau and identify legislators willing to introduce the appropriate bills.
The legislative process is deliberate (slow) but if one or more of our projects moves quickly enough, the clinic students will work in partnership with our clients to bring about the introduction of bills drafted, develop oral and written testimony, identify additional witnesses, shepherd their bills through the committee process, and work to get the bills ultimately adopted.