Family and Community
When families and communities seek legal assistance, Minnesota Law students gain the opportunity to work with clients on complex legal issues including custody, parenting, dissolution of marriage, child advocacy, community challenges, health, and other essential issues.
Students in this clinic will provide legal services at the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic, the Community University Health Care Clinic and Hope Lodge to help identify and resolve legal issues affecting patients’ care and wellbeing. Students will develop skills that can be used in any number of practice settings, including interviewing and counseling, case management, problem-solving, persuasive fact analysis, legal drafting, negotiation, effective oral communication, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Students will also be introduced to the legislative or rule-making process that can address patient health on a systems-wide level. In the second semester, students will be able to choose a focus on client work or legislative efforts.
Guest speakers from the legal profession will offer expertise in various areas of the law. Community leaders will provide important knowledge of the citizens of the Phillips neighborhood and the legal needs of cancer patients. Designated classes will be devoted to “case consultation” to solve client issues and learn from one another’s perspectives and experiences.
Through participation in this course, students will be given the opportunity to change clients’ lives by helping them assert their rights and obtain necessary benefits and services. Students will learn about legal issues that affect people with health issues, the complex intersection of law and health, the medical-legal partnership (MLP) model of legal services delivery, and client-centered and holistic approaches to the lawyer-client relationship. Students will learn their own style of lawyering and ways to improve time management, client management, and communication and advocacy skills.
Students will receive an orientation to the clinic and will be trained in intake and referral procedures early in the fall semester. Subsequent classroom sessions will combine substantive legal topics and skills development. Class sessions are highly interactive and full participation is expected.
- Phillips Neighborhood Clinic Partnership: Phillips Neighborhood Clinic (PNC) is a community health clinic run by University of Minnesota medical, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, public health, and dental students. The clinic provides a range of free services, and patients are accepted on a walk-in basis without residency, income, insurance, or immigration status requirements. Teams of students will be expected to attend at least one evening clinic per month and occasional Law Nights which are evenings devoted to providing pertinent legal information to the PNC patient community. Additional cases may be assigned from PNC affiliated programs or Cancer Legal Line.
- Community University Health Care Clinic (CUHCC): CUHCC is a CUHCC is a federally qualified health center and also a department within the University of Minnesota's . The clinic offers medical, dental, mental health, advocacy, legal, and other programs. CUHCC serves nearly 11,000 patients a year through over 55,000 visits annually. The patient population comes from over 12 different racial and ethnic groups that span five continents.
THE HOURS FOR THE THREE CLINICS VARY FROM MONDAY EVENING TO TUESDAY AFTERNOONS. STUDENTS WILL ROTATE THEIR ATTENDANCE AT THE CLINICS FOR A TOTAL OF APPROXIMATELY 4 SESSIONS PER SEMESTER.
- What to expect when working on cases and with clients: Students will screen clients at PNC, CUHCC and Hope Lodge at their clinic time and will provide extended representation as those matters may arise. Those contacts will be in person, by phone and through correspondence.
- What to expect in legislative work: Students will receive a legislative proposal from a non-profit, research the matter and draft a rule or bill to address that issue. In the second semester, students who choose this focus will further refine the legislation and lobby for its passage.
The Community Mediation Clinic offers 2Ls and 3Ls the opportunity to learn from mediation practitioners and participate as civil mediators in community and court cases, to serve as facilitators in restorative justice conferences and to create and present trainings in community conflict resolution education programs. The U is one of only a handful of the nation’s top law schools presently offering this type of clinical program. Conflict Resolution Center (CRC), one of Minnesota's oldest non-profit mediation organizations, offers a comprehensive mediation clinic. Students who successfully complete the Fall course will be eligible for the Minnesota Rule 114 Roster of Qualified Neutrals and enroll in the Spring clinic.
This course features classroom instruction and interactive exercises. It emphasizes the facilitative model of mediation while providing a survey of other mediation styles and models. Topics covered include: conflict theory, styles of conflict resolution, statutes and rules governing mediation, ethical considerations, cultural considerations in mediation and the applicability of facilitative mediation in housing, family, and harassment courts, schools, businesses, and employment work. Classroom time is split between lecture, discussion and interactive role plays and exercises with coach/instructor feedback.
During the Spring semester, students spend 4-6 hours per week on site at the Conflict Resolution Center in Minneapolis. Students choose their own mediation related legal research project which they work on throughout the semester. Students observe and then participate in CRC community and court mediations, restorative justice conferences and community outreach programs. Students will mediate or observe an average of 6 cases during the spring. Additionally, students journal their experiences role-playing, observing and mediating.
- Brief weekly status meetings with the student director are required during the first semester.
- Observe and/or co-mediate cases in Hennepin County Housing and Harassment Courts, Anoka
County Conciliation Court, Ramsey County Conciliation and Housing Court, and at CRC.
What to expect when working on cases and with clients: CRC’s mediation clients are primarily low income individuals. Students’ interaction with clients varies with the observation and mediation opportunities they participate in. CRC manages client intake procedures for mediations and restorative justice conferences. During observations, students’ interaction with clients is limited. When students co-mediate cases, facilitate restorative justice conferences, and participate in case intake and development, they work directly with clients.
This clinic is grounded in the development of practical skills necessary to effectively develop and move family law cases from initial client interview to Judgment and Decree.
Of the twelve classes in fall semester, two classes consist of simulated learning and the other ten consist of lecture with in-class exercises, such as, calculating child support, answering paternity hypotheticals, and a class on professional responsibility. The two simulations include: client interview for a dissolution with children (which prepares students for their first client file); and a default hearing. The simulations are grounded in one fictional family law case file.
There is no class in spring semester, but student attorneys’ dockets increase to three cases and student attorneys are required to attend weekly meetings with their case team to discuss case planning, client counseling, review documents, and prepare for court appearances. Court preparation often requires time, in addition to weekly meetings, for mooting the appearance.
The Family Law Clinic may or may not offer students an opportunity to participate in trial. To obtain trial advocacy skills applicable in any litigation setting, students are advised but not required to enroll in Evidence and Trial Practice.
- Weekly status meetings
- Attend Anoka County Family Law Clinic on two Friday afternoons throughout the academic year.
What to expect when working on cases and with clients:
- The student attorney is the primary lawyer in the client’s eyes. This means that if you are not ready for the responsibility of practicing law, you should not take this clinic.
- Every new case begins with factual and legal analysis set forth in written memoranda. Expect feedback on writing substance and style.
The Indian Child Welfare Act Clinic (the “ICWA Clinic”) is a full academic year, four credit program beginning in the fall semester. The casework focuses on litigation involving the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and Tribal Code.
During the fall semester, class sessions will focus on the historical context, present day application and future implications of ICWA. This will include a focus on understanding ICWA in the broader context of Indian Law. Classes will include guest lecturers, who are leaders in the American Indian Community. The class will include guided discussion and analysis of the historical context and role of courts in the lives of American Indian families. The class will provide a context to consider the effectiveness and equity of the child protection system in the lives of American Indian families today. Students will learn Juvenile Court and Tribal Court procedure and advocacy skills to provide direct representation to families. Classes will not meet in the spring semester.
The Indian Child Welfare Act Law Center works to strengthen preserve and reunited Indian families consistent with the mandates and spirit of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The ICWA
Law Center is a non-profit, American Indian legal services organization committed to providing the highest quality of legal representation to Indian families involving in child custody
proceedings implicating ICWA. The ICWA Law Center has represented over 5,000 American Indian families in child protection proceedings since 1993. ICWA Clinic Students will advocate on behalf of ICWA Law Center clients.
ICWA Clinic Students will present in court in at least 10 hearings involving either the Indian Child Welfare Act or Tribal Code. Shannon Smith and Andrea Braun will supervise students in their casework. In addition to presenting at 10 hearings, Students will provide case support in 2 cases from the beginning of the fall semester through the spring semester or until the case is closed. This may include experiences such as client meetings, preparing motions and trial binders, drafting legal memorandum and presenting in court.
Additional Commitments: During the Spring Semester, students will participate in 3 Roundtables. The Roundtables will be held at the ICWA Law Center during lunch.
What to expect when working on cases and with clients: To ensure a fulfilling experience in the ICWA Clinic, students must be willing to make a substantial time commitment beyond the classroom. This may require students to schedule classes in a way that allows for appearances in court and client contact.