Family Advocacy Clinic

A large percentage of domestic violence incidents happen at home, and each year more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes. For these reasons, domestic violence is a focus of family law work done in the Family Advocacy Clinic (FAC).

This is a full-year clinic offered for 10 credits (5 credits/semester) and students will receive separate letter grades at the end of the academic year for the clinic work and seminar. The clinic is open to day and evening students in their last two (2) years of law school and Accelerated JD students in their last year. Student attorneys will be certified to practice law under SJC Rule 3:03 and will represent individuals in contested family law matters in Suffolk County Probate Court and less often in Middlesex County Probate Court. The types of cases include divorce, paternity, custody, visitation, child support, and other family dissolution cases. Student attorneys are expected to perform all tasks necessary to the representation of the client from initial interviews to trial. Case selection priority is given to clients suffering from the consequences of domestic violence and sexual assault. The FAC works in collaboration with HarborCOV, a domestic violence social service agency. Student attorneys represent HarborCOV clients in their family law matters and offer legal consultation to HarborCOV staff on site at their Chelsea office.

The weekly clinic seminar covers the development of lawyering skills such as interviewing, counseling, case theory development, negotiation, oral advocacy, and the application of ethical rules to practice in the complex arena of families in crisis. One of the main goals of the FAC is for student attorneys to learn and develop insight into the process of lawyering, using family and poverty law as the paradigm for this learning.

FAC obligations cannot be confined to particular days and must be met as needed on a per case basis. Student attorneys will be expected to work on average 13/hours a week on clinic-related work (not including seminars). Weekly journals encouraging self-reflective learning are required primarily in the first semester. Students must have completed or be concurrently enrolled in Family Law and Evidence. Spanish-speaking students are strongly encouraged to apply. In addition to the clinic-wide, one-day orientation in August, students accepted to the FAC must also be available for a full-day clinic-specific orientation and a separate orientation for only FAC students – date and time TBD. If you have any questions please email Professor Maritza Karmely or Chris Butler.