Family Justice Clinic
Through a partnership with FACES of Hope (FACES) Foundation, the Family Justice Clinic (FJC) provides law students the opportunity to develop their legal skills while providing free legal assistance to survivors of interpersonal violence.
In my time at the Family Justice Clinic, I have not only developed practical skills, but I have also become a more empathetic person. Law school prepared you to navigate the law; it does not prepare you to look into your client's eyes and connect with them on a human-to-human level. That is an essential part of advocacy and is what I learned at the Family Justice Clinic. I am grateful to be a part of this wonderful collaboration between U of I and FACES. Nina Marcello, 3L Student Spring 2023
About the Clinic
Students in their third year at U of I are able to take the lessons learned in the classroom and assist in the full representation of survivors of domestic and sexual violence. From the initial application, interviews and drafting of pleadings to the negotiation with opposing counsel and trial, students handle all aspects of the client’s civil case.
The vast majority of clinical work is completed at a dedicated office within FACES, rather than within the law school itself. By working within FACES, students have the opportunity to work with other professionals advocating for those impacted by interpersonal violence, including a Special Victim Unit of the Boise Police Department, investigators of child abuse with the Department of Health and Welfare, medical professionals with St. Luke’s and St. Alphonsus, victim advocates, counselors and many others. The immersion with the various community resources provides a unique opportunity for U of I students to not only gain real world legal experience but to make an impact in the lives of many of those abused and victimized in and around Boise.
The Family Justice Clinic (FJC) was established to provide 3L students with real-life legal experience while meeting a significant community need of providing pro bono legal representation to low-income families embroiled in interpersonal violence. The FJC is a full-time clinic staffed with eight 3L students operating under a limited license from the Idaho State Supreme Court under the supervision of a licensed attorney clinical director.
Students in FJC gain the following experience:
- critical thinking about their cases, analyzing client's legal interests, and developing case plans to serve those interests.
- conducting factual investigations including interviewing clients, parties and witnesses, and drafting and responding to formal discovery requests.
- managing a caseload; maintaining paper and electronic files; keeping a calendar, time tracking, managing time efficiently; prioritizing cases and client needs; and maintaining a balance between a caseload, course work and private life.
- in written and oral communication and advocacy with clients, opposing counsel, parties, and the court.
- in both substantive law and court procedures to enable them to competently represent clients in civil protection hearings and family law proceedings including divorce and child custody.
- analyzing and applying professional responsibilities as licensed members of the legal profession.
- collaborating with law enforcement, counselors, medical professionals and other advocates working for the prevention and service to victims of domestic violence.
Student Work Assignments
Client work is done by students under the close supervision of Professor Merritt Dublin with legal support from the Clinical Support Coordinator, Amelia Wheelen. The clinic operates as a law firm. Cases are initiated with intake interviews conducted by students under the managing attorney's supervision. When a case is selected for representation, a student is assigned to the case, obtains a client representation agreement, and develops a case plan for meeting the goals of the client. With supervision, students take the lead on their cases conducting research, drafting, factual investigation, formal discovery, motion and evidentiary hearings, and trials, according to case demands.
Students must be 3Ls in good standing and will need to apply and be approved for a limited license through the Idaho State Bar. Students must submit an application, cover letter and resume explaining the interest in the Family Justice Clinic during the spring application period.
Clinic information sessions are held and applications are accepted for clinical placements in early Spring, and are reviewed on a rolling basis. The positions will remain open until all positions are filled. Applications for a full year are given preference. Students enrolled in the Family Justice Clinic may not participate in a semester-in-practice but may participate for summer externship and pro bono placements.