Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Children's Rights Clinic - FAQs

What is clinical education?

Clinical education is a teaching method that combines theory and practice. Its purpose is to teach students how to be lawyers by engaging in the practice of law in a controlled educational environment.

In a clinical course, students are given the opportunity to exercise professional judgment while representing actual clients. Students are responsible for all aspects of the client's representation.

Who does the Clinic represent?

The Children's Rights Clinic provides representation to those children in Los Angeles County who would not otherwise be able to obtain legal representation. Clients range in age from 3 to 22 and may also be involved in the dependency or delinquency systems.

What types of cases will students work on in the Clinic?

Students in the Children's Rights Clinic represent youth in school discipline proceedings, or youth with special needs in special education proceedings where discipline or behavior is an issue, or work with community groups to advocate for better and more equitable educational opportunities for youth.

What do students do in the Children's Rights Clinic?

Students working on school discipline cases interview and counsel clients, investigate and develop facts, interview witnesses, conduct legal research, create a case plan, negotiate with school personnel, and, if necessary, represent clients at school discipline hearings. These hearings provide the opportunity for clinic students to submit oral and written argument, examine witnesses, and present evidence before the school board. If appropriate, clinic students may have the opportunity to represent students on appeal before the county board of education.

Students working on special education cases interview and counsel clients, investigate and develop facts, work with mental health professionals and experts, conduct legal research, create a case plan, and represent clients at individualized education program team meetings. If necessary, students may represent clients at mediation or due process hearings.

What is the community outreach component?

Clinic students will give presentations on school discipline or special education related issues to parent community groups. Students will create the presentations and materials and offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions about their particular education related issue.

How are cases referred to the Clinic?

Cases are referred to the Children's Rights Clinic from the Dependency Court, the Delinquency Court, non-profit organizations and local parent organizations. Individuals may call the Children's Rights Clinic Intake Line at (213) 738-6621 for a case intake screening.

What are the eligibility requirements?

To be eligible for the Clinic, students must be in good academic standing. Full time students must have completed their first year of study and part-time students must have completed their second year of study. The only pre/co-requisite for the clinic is Evidence. Other recommended courses are Legal Profession, Children and the Law, Education Law, Special Education Law Seminar, Family Law, Interviewing, Counseling and Negotiation, and Trial Advocacy.

How do students apply for the Clinic?

Interested students must submit a Children's Rights Clinic application and resume to Professor Waterstone. Students are selected based on their application with priority given to students in their final year of law school and to those who have not had prior in-house clinic experience. Fluency in a relevant language other than English is preferred, but not required. Selection will not be based on academic rank.

What day and time is the classroom component of the Clinic?

The class meets on Tuesdays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. The classroom component focuses on substantive and procedural law, professional responsibility and development of advocacy skills.

Is a clinical experience beneficial even if I don't plan on practicing in an area relating to children?

Yes, students learn the essentials of case planning, problem solving, strategic thinking, professionalism, client relations, and other skills associated with the practice of law.

How many units will I receive and how is the clinical experience graded?

The Children's Rights Clinic is a semester course. It is five units and graded; 20% of the grade will be based on class attendance and participation in classroom discussion and 80% of the grade will be based on performance on casework and community work, including relationships with clients, lawyering, research and writing, and office management.