This course covers the theory and skills of the lawyer/client role, and their application in the context of pre-incarceration and reentry advocacy around child support obligations. Lawyering skills topics include the nature of the initial client interview, planning and structure of an interview, development and testing of factual and legal theories, psychological and ethical issues, techniques and ethics of assisting clients to make decisions, and techniques of problem solving. The course includes simulated client interviews and counseling sessions, which will be individually critiqued, and work with citizens prior to sentencing or who are re-entering society after a period of incarceration who need help with outstanding child support obligations. We anticipate that students will participate in the following lawyering tasks: interviewing and counseling clients regarding child support obligations, preparing memos to assess the child support case and record factual information learned during client interviews; assisting clients in preparing paperwork to file, and court accompaniment. While New Jersey law permits support obligors to petition the court for suspension of enforcement of outstanding child support orders during a period of incarceration, Halliwell v. Halliwell, 741 A. 2d 638 (App. Div. 1999), such motions are relatively uncommon, so students will be helping develop this area of practice. Clients will be referred by the U.S. District Court of the District of New Jersey via Federal Probation.
In addition to class hours, students will need to be available for out of class simulation sessions (1 hour per student, 1 weekend in February and 1 in early March), meetings with clients and consultations with the prof.