601:772. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CLINIC (4 or 6, as designated) S/WI
Prerequisites: Completion of 56 course credits and the courses in Evidence and Professional Responsibility.
Recommended: A domestic violence course or a previous courthouse rotation through the Domestic Violence Project.
Exclusion: Students may not simultaneously enroll in the law school's Externship Program and the Domestic Violence Clinic without permission of both supervising professors.
Special Note: This course meets four hours per week, but students in the course must also be available at times other than the scheduled class hours to attend hearings, cover court rotations, and to meet with clients, classmates, and the supervising clinical attorney. Hearings typically take place in the mornings Monday-Thursday. Flexible morning schedules are desirable while participating in this clinic.
The Domestic Violence Clinic focuses on the skills necessary for client representation, the ethical issues that arise in cases, and the roles of attorney and counselor. Students participating in this clinic represent victims of domestic violence in complex domestic violence matters under the supervision of clinical professors who are licensed to practice in New Jersey and experienced in domestic violence.
The types of representations which students undertake include, among other things, final restraining order hearings where both parties have filed for relief, final restraining order hearings involving novel issues of law, motions for reconsideration, contempt hearings, or appeals.
Students work with a partner and undertake all steps necessary to prepare for court hearings. Students interview clients, review court documents from related cases or prior proceedings, prepare direct and cross examination, make strategic decisions, and draft documents. Students often engage in substantial writing in their case work, such as preparing motion packets or briefs, normally with very short deadlines. Those situations provide students with an additional and valuable learning experience about the realities of trial practice from a research and writing perspective. In New Jersey, third-year students may appear in court under the New Jersey Third Year Practice Rule, and students in the clinic make all necessary court appearances.
Domestic Violence cases typically involve working with clients who are in highly stressful life situations, who often have negative experiences with the justice system, and who may need to make major life changes in order to maintain their own safety and that of their children, if any. The challenges facing attorneys who practice in this area are distinctive and many practitioners lack specialized training.
Students in the clinic benefit from confronting the challenges of domestic violence practice in a small group composed entirely of students who are entering the class with some background in domestic violence law, practice, and procedure. Students learn how to integrate a systemic perspective on domestic violence law into individual representation and also have the satisfaction of helping raise the standards of domestic violence practice in Camden (which some may choose to continue to do on a pro bono basis after graduation).