Family Law Student Clinics
Philadelphia Legal Assistance is committed to hosting law student clinics in order to provide high quality legal advocacy to as many clients as possible, and to provide mentorship and training to upcoming generations of attorneys. The Family Law Unit at PLA hosts two distinct law student clinics: the Custody and Support Assistance Clinic (CASAC) and the Drexel Civil Litigation Field Clinic (DCLFC).
Custody and Support Assistance Clinic (CASAC)
CASAC is an independent, incorporated entity which is administered and staffed by Penn Law students, with guidance from the School’s Toll Public Interest Center (TPIC), which supports more than twenty student-run pro bono projects. Supervised by attorneys at Philadelphia Legal Assistance (PLA), CASAC provides volunteer advocates with a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience working one-on-one with clients to prepare legal documents, provide advice for court appearances, and navigate the Philadelphia court system. In addition, advocates also have the opportunity to represent clients in Family Court in their second or third years.
Drexel Civil Litigation Field Clinic (DCLFC)
Law students who participate in the year-long Civil Litigation Field Clinic will have the opportunity to provide representation to victims of family violence in PFA and custody matters, under the supervision of Professor Arly Smith-Pearson, a staff attorney at PLA. Students will receive in-depth training in Protection From Abuse child custody, support, divorce, and dependency law. Students will also receive training in evidence, trial skills, interview skills, and trauma-informed lawyering.
Students will interview clients, draft pleadings, and conduct legal research when necessary, and will represent the client in PFA and custody proceedings in Domestic Relations court. Students will represent clients at trials and motions hearings, which often will include presenting an array of evidence including direct and cross examination, witnesses such as a police officers, medical evidence, and photographs. While the focus of the clinic is on representing domestic violence survivors in family court in their PFA and custody cases, students will also conduct a limited number of intake interviews for family law clients who may or may not be victims of domestic violence. Students will also staff the Family Court Help Center assisting low-income individuals prepare pleadings.
The Civil Litigation Field Clinic is a year-long clinic. Students in the clinic receive six credits per semester. Students should expect to spend an average of 16-20 hours a week on their casework, although that number may fluctuate from week to week.