WHAT WE DO

The Civil Practice Clinics umbrella a range of state court practice areas, each in a discrete clinic:

  • Government Benefits Clinic
    Clinic fellows and students expanded representation to include Veteran’s benefits claims.

  • Family Law Basic
    Students represent clients in divorces that involve minimal property and no children.

  • Family Law Advanced
    Students represent clients in cases that present more advanced, mixed issues than found in a simple divorce with no children or any substantial property. Here client issues tend to focus on divorce joined with contested property, children and custody issues, parentage, grandparent access, post-judgment enforcement or modification, and state agency involvement. The Clinic also serves in court-appointed positions including amicus and ad litem appointments.

  • Estate Planning
    Students represent clients with modest estate planning needs, preparing an array of documents for execution.

  • Probate
    Students represent clients in probate cases where the post-death transfer of property may involve an independent administration, dependent administration, muniment of title, determination of heirship, or small estate affidavit.

  • Guardianship
    Students represent a parent or close relative seeking the guardianship of an incapacitated adult.

  • Child Welfare
    Students provide direct representation to children in the foster care system, while gathering data that can identify “best practices” for addressing the needs of children aged 15-17 who will soon be “aging out” of foster care.

Students hone their lawyering skills as they interview, research, strategize, draft pleadings and documents, advise and counsel clients, and, when necessary, appear in court. They work under the close supervision of full time faculty and teaching fellows to develop professional wisdom and judgment.

WHY WE SELECTED THESE CLINICS

We had educational and community service goals in mind when we formed these clinics.

The Civil Practice Clinics are designed to help make students practice ready upon graduation. They specifically target two groups of students -- those contemplating small firm or solo practice, and those seeking to be practice-ready for pro bono work as they pursue large firm, governmental or corporate legal careers. The legal issues we focus on in these clinics are topics that both groups of students are likely to encounter soon after entering practice.

The legal issues handled in these Clinics also represent major areas of unmet legal need for members of the poverty population and the working poor in our region.

WHO'S INVOLVED

    Faculty

   
       

Betty Luke
Professor of Law

 

 
   
Emily Bohls
Clinical Adjunct Professor
 
Crystal Le
Clinic Teaching
Fellow

 
Alec Lawton
Clinic Teaching
Fellow
       
    Andrew Milne
Clinic Teaching
Fellow
   
   

 

Staff

   
     
Vin Ho
Managing
Attorney
      Elliot Tucker
Public Interest Attorney
   
Christa Bynam
Paralegal
 
Liz Scallan
Paralegal
 
Lyther Walker
Coodinator


ORGANIZATIONS / PARTNERS

The Rockwell Fund has played a major role in the growth and development of these clinics, allowing us to expand into new areas, and linking the Civil Practice Clinics with area service providers.

Grants from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation through IOLTA and Basic Civil Legal Services have helped fund the attorney and paralegal positions critical to our mission.

SIGNIFICANT ACHEIVEMENTS

  • In academic year 2011-2012, more than 65 students contributed over 8,500 hours of free legal services through their participation in the civil practice clinics.
  • At a modest compensation rate of $50/hour that service resulted in the equivalent of a $425,000+ contribution of legal services to the community.
  • Teaching faculty and clinical fellows devote a substantial amount of their professional time to providing direct representation for poor Texans represented by the civil practice clinics.
  • Professional staff members also include paralegals and coordinators as front line workers in providing pro bono and legal service assistance – with their tasks ranging from making home visits to support guardianship applications for a special needs child approaching adulthood, to making “know your rights” presentations to community groups. Together, they contribute another 200+ hours a week, throughout the year, for a total of 9,000 hours. That represents another $1,000,000 in services provided.
  • Faculty and students championed access to justice for indigent clients through litigation strategy and outreach to Courts in the critical family law areas: seeking waiver of attorneys ad litem [saving indigent clients $500 to $1,200 in alternative service cases] and vigorously pursuing pauper’s affidavits.