Advocacy, Family Violence and Public Policy Seminar
The seminar is a non-traditional 2-credit-hour course which examines both the state of family violence in America abroad as well as the cross disciplinary issues in effective intervention. Seminar assignments include novels, a casebook and observations in adult abuse courts and in women’s shelters. The Seminar carries a substantial writing assignment which students must submit for publication. The Seminar paper fulfills the Law Schools Writing Requirement.
Historically, students occasionally elect to complete special projects over a writing project such as preparing clemency petitions, drafting multistate legislation, testifying before legislative committees, forming an empirical research team, etc.
The Family Violence Clinic
The Clinic is a 4-credit-hour course open only to second and third year Rule 13 certified law students. All students represent petitioners for orders of adult and child protection in civil courts under RSMO 455 (the Adult Abuse Statute) in multiple rural counties. Some students also represent terminally ill custodial parents arranging permanency for their children and petitioners for adoption of special needs children.
Circuit clerks, police stations, and women’s shelters refer abused women and parents to the Clinic. When a referral is received, a team of students is assigned to conduct an interview of the victim and serve as counsel in the litigation. The Clinic Director personally supervises the students in preparing for litigation, consulting with opposing counsel, settlement negotiation, and courtroom representation.
The Clinic Director holds weekly case conferences which include all enrolled law students. These conferences use the law students’ real case experiences as the focus of instruction.
Student representation is only available to women who are at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. The clinic handles roughly 60 referrals for civil orders of protection per year and students obtain remedies desired by their clients in over 95% of their cases. Since inception, the Clinic has expanded its representation from 5 to over 33 rural Missouri Circuit Courts, to the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, and to the Missouri Supreme Court.
Law students enrolled in Family Violence Clinic must complete both Professional Responsibility and the Advocacy, family Violence and Public Policy Seminar before or during their clinical experience.
The Funding History of the Family Violence Program
The clinic has been operating since 1992. It received three year seed funding form the U.S. Department of Education Title IX Program and was approved to receive additional Title IX funding before Congress rescinded its previously appropriated moneys.
The clinic is now funded by the University and has received funding for special projects and rural representation from federal, state, and private sources. The Clinic has repeatedly received grant funding from the Missouri Department of Public Safety Stop Violence Against Women Program, the Missouri Department of Public Safety Victims of Crime Act Grant, the U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Legal Assistance Program, and the Philip Morris Corporate Contributions Doors of Hope Program.
The Missouri Department of Public Safety funds travel, long distance phone charges, cell phones, and litigation expenses for representation of clinic clients in rural areas. The Department of Justice Civil Legal Assistance Program fund a Public Service Award for 2 students to work in domestic violence related litigation at Mid Mo Legal Services Corporation in the summers.