Each student in the Child Advocacy Clinic is assigned to a local attorney who has been appointed to represent children (and in some cases, parents) in Family Court in Tompkins County or surrounding areas. The attorneys and students work together on all aspects of representation, including home visits, pre-trial conferences, negotiation sessions, client and parent interviews, litigation documents, and hearings. The student may also help the attorney with appellate work. A classroom component of the Clinic allows students to learn the substantive law of Family Court and to share their insights and experiences with one another.
In addition to the Clinical course, each semester the Child Advocacy program places one student in the local Attorneys for Children Office. The Office provides representation to children involved in Family Court proceedings, handling such issues as child abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, custody, Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS), and juvenile delinquency. The student assists the office’s attorneys and social workers in all phases of representation: case investigation, including interviewing clients, teachers, therapists, and families; home visits; court proceedings; and the researching and writing of pleadings, memoranda, discovery documents, and closing arguments. The student is admitted to practice under the student-practice rule and is able to appear in court under attorney supervision. A classroom component of the course ensures that the student understands the substantive law involved in the work.