In fieldwork practicum courses, students participate in a weekly seminar and engage in related fieldwork at outside organizations. This fieldwork practicum course will focus on assisting those representing themselves in divorce, child custody, and child support matters in D.C. Superior Court. Working under the supervision of attorneys with the D.C. Affordable Law Firm (DCALF), students will provide family law related information and community education services to individual and groups of D.C. residents in Ward 8. Ward 8 is an area with a 36% poverty rate, where its residents largely address their legal problems without the benefit of counsel. Students will give guidance to pro se litigants on preparing pleadings and gathering necessary facts and documents for court hearings. Students will also prepare and present information about family court law and procedure in community meetings. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and carry out 10 hours/week of fieldwork with the D.C. Affordable Law Firm.
SEMINAR: In the seminar, students will learn about: (i) family law and procedure in the District; (ii) the types of information self-represented parties often need when they have to represent themselves; (iii) the best means for helping self-represented persons in crisis situations; (iv) developments nationally on involving non-lawyers, such as law students, in providing needed information and public education to self-represented parties; and (v) requirements and restrictions set forth in the District’s unauthorized practice of law provisions (DC court of Appeals Rule 49) that governs the services students in the Practicum will be able to provide.
FIELDWORK: In the fieldwork component of the course, students will assist DCALF and pro bono lawyers working with them in: (i) planning and providing basic information services for self-represented parties in DC Superior Court Domestic Relations Branch matters; (ii) preparing easily understood on-line and print family law public education materials; and (iii) conducting community based presentations on family law issues.