Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA
 

Children's Rights Clinic

Southwestern students may find the application and other Legal Clinic details on MySouthwestern (log-in required).

Sample Law Student Application - for reference only (PDF)

 

The Children's Rights Clinic provides representation to low-income children in the areas of school discipline, special education and other education-related issues. The clinic is staffed by law students who represent clients under the supervision of Professors Julie Waterstone and Jenny Fee. Students have the opportunity in a real-life context to hone their lawyering skills such as interviewing, negotiating, counseling, pre-trial litigation, and oral advocacy.

"Children are among the most vulnerable people in our society. By being their advocate, we help give them a voice."

- Professor Julie Waterstone,
Director of the Children's Rights Clinic

School Discipline Cases

Working in teams of two, clinic students assigned to school discipline cases interview children, their parents or guardians, their teachers, social workers, and any other person with information about the child to prepare for the discipline proceeding. Clinic students review the child's school file and engage in informal discovery to gather all of the relevant facts. In many cases, students have the opportunity to negotiate with school district personnel in an attempt to informally resolve the matter. If these efforts are not successful, students prepare for an administrative hearing before a panel of school board members, which includes trial preparation and writing a trial brief. At the hearing, students present evidence, examine and cross-examine witnesses, and give an opening and closing statement. If the hearing does not provide a satisfactory result, students may appeal the case to the Los Angeles County Board of Education. In preparing for the hearing before the Board of Education, students review the earlier transcripts, draft an appeal brief, and prepare for and ultimately engage in oral argument.

Special Education Cases

Students working on special education cases interview children, their parents, teachers, social workers, and any other person with information about the child in preparation for the Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting. Clinic students review the child's school file and engage in informal discovery to gather all of the relevant facts. Students then have the opportunity to advocate and negotiate on the child's behalf at the IEP meeting. If that process does not adequately satisfy the child's needs, students draft and file complaints with either the California Department of Education or the Office of Administrative Hearings. If the case moves forward to due process (e.g. by filing a complaint with the Office of Administrative Hearings), students participate in a mediation conference with the school district. If a resolution is not achieved, students prepare for trial, interview expert witnesses, and draft and file motions and a trial brief. At the hearing, students present evidence, examine witnesses, cross-examine witnesses, and give an opening and closing statement. If the hearing is unsuccessful, students may appeal the case to the United States District Court for the Central District of California.