Family Justice Litigation

The Family Justice Litigation clinic focuses on domestic violence, family law, and immigration as it relates to violence. Under faculty supervision, students represent indigent litigants in D.C. Superior Court, and undertake a range of cases in the Family Court including divorce, custody, and adoption, and the Domestic Violence Unit including civil protection orders, modification and extension of civil protection orders, and contempt.  Students may also represent clients who seek immigration relief due to domestic violence or other criminal conduct. Several Clinic students each semester will also focus their legal work on the protection of victims of cyberviolence.  While representing domestic violence litigants, students have an opportunity to gain exposure to criminal practice by collaborating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in related prosecutions of accused batterers.  In all cases, students are responsible for every phase of litigation, including:  drafting of initial pleadings, motions, discovery, settlement negotiations, and taking the case to trial.  In the weekly classroom component, students study the substantive and procedural law relevant to their cases—including the local domestic violence and family law statutes, criminal law, evidentiary principles, and procedural rules—and focus on client counseling, strategic thinking, ethics, and litigation skills exercises, such as performing direct and cross-examinations, arguing motions, and conducting negotiations.

Information for Students and Prospective Clients

Information for Students

Students will be selected based on their potential to provide high quality, client-centered legal services to our client population. Faculty will consider students’ interest in and commitment to family law, domestic violence law, and/or a career in litigation. In addition, faculty will consider past experiences in working directly with less advantaged clients and individuals in crisis. Students who have not yet been able to explore these areas should not be deterred from applying.

Every semester, the clinics hold an Open House where faculty are available to answer questions about their respective clinics. Students may also contact Professor Kohn to discuss the clinic or ask specific questions.

Eligibility

  • Students are expected to devote an average of 21 hours per week to their clinic work.
  • Participation in the clinic requires returning to school before classes begin for a Litigation Training Program.
  • Students must be prepared to be as flexible as possible and understand that litigation schedules are driven by judges and clients.
  • Once accepted into the clinic, students must be certified by the DC Court of Appeals. Evidence must be taken as a co-requisite or prerequisite. Family Law is recommended.

For more information, please login to the Portal. A complete set of application instructions is posted at least a few weeks prior to the registration period for the following semester.

Information for Prospective Clients

The Family Justice Litigation Clinic represents clients in a variety of family law and domestic violence matters. The majority of our representation involves domestic violence, child custody, divorce, third party custody, and child support. Clients are represented by third year law students who are certified to practice in DC Superior Court and supervised by attorneys who have practiced for several years in the family law field 

We provide services for free and, in return, ask clients to cooperate with the needs of the students in preparing cases and taking them to trial. Clients may be required to bear the cost of court fees. We are permitted by the court to only represent clients who cannot afford a lawyer.

If you are interested in talking with us about a case, please call our Intake Line at 202.994.7463. Before taking on the case, our staff will conduct a brief telephone interview to determine the nature of your legal issue and ask about any filings or hearings that have already taken place. When you call, please have any pending case numbers and significant dates available. After the brief telephone interview, clinic faculty will assess if we have the appropriate staffing to take on your case. You will hear from us shortly after the phone interview.   

Faculty

Professor Laurie Kohn

Laurie S. Kohn

Associate Professor of Clinical Law and Director of the Family Justice Litigation Clinic 

Erin M. Scheick

Visiting Associate Professor of Clinical Law