Howard University

Child Welfare Clinic

Child Welfare Legal Clinic

Howard Law’s new Child Welfare/Family Justice Clinic is the latest clinical opportunity under the Clinical Law Center (CLC) as the result of a contract awarded by the D.C. Superior Courtís Counsel for Child Abuse and Neglect (CCAN) Office. This Clinic will be offered for credit to third year law students who are eligible for admittance under the Student Practice Rule of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The Clinic will be operated as an eight (8) credit, year-long course, with an initial pilot one semester, four (4)-credit offering. The Clinic will serve up to 12 students per year after its pilot phase. Up to eight (8) students will be admitted for the pilot phase. In order to enroll in the Clinic, students will have to apply, be interviewed and accepted by the Supervising Attorney or the CLC Director, the same process the CLC uses for all of its other clinical programs. In order to qualify for the new clinic, students will have to have successfully completed a course in Criminal Procedure and Evidence, and to have undertaken prerequisite or co-requisite courses such as Family Law, Family Law Practice, Children and the Law, Domestic Violence, Adoption Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Trial Advocacy and Professional Responsibility. Preference for admittance will be given to those students currently participating in our previously established Family Law Certificate Program.

The Child Welfare/Family Justice Clinic will combine classroom instruction with work on actual cases. Students will attend three hours of classroom instruction per week, to include the necessary law, legal, ethical and advocacy training and skills required to successfully represent adults involved in child abuse and neglect cases. The curriculum will include:

Client Interviewing Skills

Trial Advocacy Skills

Family Division Practices and Procedures

DC Rules of Professional Conduct

DC Code Title 16

Child Abuse & Neglect Attorney Practice Standards

Classes will also include case rounds, and analysis of ethical, strategic and client representation issues, litigation planning and litigation skill development. Students will work on cases appointed to the Clinic by the Family Court Division of the District of Columbia Superior Court and accepted by the Supervising Attorney. They will work on actual case matters with assignments to include interviewing clients by telephone and in person, case analysis and adherence to Child Abuse and Neglect Practice Standards. Their case work will include factual investigation and research of various issues and claims, court appearances, team meetings with other service providers, and community outreach projects, as well as research and preparation of pleadings, motions, memoranda and oral arguments on relevant pending cases. Students will staff the intake system (which is currently an integral component of the clinical program at Howard Law) by devoting in-office hours each week to the Clinic and which include interviewing and triage of requests for representation which come from write-ins, walk-ins, radio PSAs, e-mails via our clinical program’s website, and referrals from outside organizations.

This course is designed to introduce students to a broad array of advocacy and advisory skills and substantive law to enable them to provide direct legal representation to either parents who have or are alleged to have neglected or abused their children in a way that has resulted in state intervention. Among the subjects to be covered in the Clinic are the following: the child welfare system; CCAN cases in the DC Superior Court; substantive and procedural law; local practice; rules of professional conduct; interviewing and counseling parents; negotiating settlements and services to families; and trial skills.

updated: April 21, 2015