Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes due to intimate partner violence. Men can also be victims of physical assaults by intimate partners. 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).
The goal of the FAC is for student attorneys to learn and develop insight into the practice of law, using family and poverty law as the paradigm for this learning. Family law cases include divorce, paternity, custody, visitation, child support, and other family dissolution matters such as abuse prevention cases. Student attorneys are expected to perform all the lawyering tasks necessary to the representation of their client from initial interviews to trial (with ongoing supervision by faculty). The FAC works in collaboration with HarborCOV, a community-based 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.
A weekly 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. Student attorneys work an average of 14 hours a week on their cases. Given the nature of family law matters, FAC obligations cannot be confined to particular days and must be met as needed. Weekly journals encouraging self-reflective learning are required throughout the academic year. Students must have completed or be concurrently enrolled in Family Law. Spanish-speaking students are strongly encouraged to apply.
- Full-year clinic
- 8 credits (4 credits per semester/letter grade at end of the course)
Starting in the fall 2017 this will be 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.