Family Law Clinic

The Family Law Clinic represents clients in the matters of legal separation, divorce, child support, child custody, visitation, guardianships and other related domestic relations issues. The clinic operates on a sliding fee scale basis, depending on the financial circumstances of the parties.

Because families remain in need of services for custody, dissolution of marriage, visitation issues, guardianships, estate plans, juvenile court proceedings, and many more issues, there will continue to be expanding fields of employment for Chicago-Kent graduates.

The Family Law Clinic is designed to give a real-world experience, hands-on practice, and a basic level of comfort in the practice of family law. Participating students will have the practical experience of interviewing office clients, of using the interview to determine what pleadings should be drafted and filed, of drafting those pleadings and of using effective negotiation and trial strategies under the supervision of the supervising attorney. Students will learn the structure of a family law case, the various courts which are involved, and they will file actual pleadings and attend court hearings.

Those students eligible for a 711 license will argue motions and attend status calls and short hearings on behalf of clients. At the weekly class meetings, students will discuss what is happening in their cases, how they are responding to clients' needs, and devising strategies for proceeding in the case as well as what they have seen and heard in the courtroom.

Participating students are provided a portfolio of materials to use when they actually begin to practice in this area of the law.They acquire, for example, forms and instructions for practicing in Domestic Relations, Probate, Domestic Violence Court and other relevant courtrooms. They learn how to check the dockets in various courtrooms as well as procedures for filing motions, stamping copies, paying fees, etc., the knowledge of which will help them when they begin to practice. As they do this, they also begin to integrate what they have learned in several law school classes, and apply that knowledge to solve real world problems.

New Pilot Program

We are excited to announce that we will be partnering with the Circuit Court of Cook County and several other agencies in a one-year pilot program that aims to bring pro bono representation to unrepresented domestic relations litigants.

Students in this program, who must have their 711 licenses, will be opposing counsel to 711 law students from De Paul and other law schools in advocating for pro se litigants.  In this capacity, students will be expected to familiarize themselves with the facts of the case and the relevant law; to interview their clients to gather facts and to provide legal advice; and to advocate on behalf of that client, with opposing counsel, in an attempt to reach a negotiated settlement.   Once a settlement has been reached, the matter would be concluded before the judge on the same day.    The representation would be of limited scope and not ongoing. 

This is NOT mediation but client-centered advocacy, something that a law student cannot undertake in a judicial externship or an externship with a private firm.

This work will be performed under the supervision of Professor Rhonda de Freitas, who supervises the Family Law Clinic.  In addition to the monthly in-court negotiation sessions, we will engage in discussions, simulations and guest lectures covering negotiation and client counseling skills, civility, and unique professional responsibility issues that arise within family law cases, all within the existing Family Law Clinic format.

We can accept up to ten students, all of home must have their 711 licenses in hand at the beginning of the semester, but we anticipate high demand for this program so you’ll want to get your applications in quickly.   To register for this pilot program, you must first register for fall 2018 Family Law Clinic. 

Please note:  This program will be part of the regular family law clinic, which will still have a section available to non-711 students.  If you are interested, please email Professor de Freitas at rdefreitas@kentlaw.iit.edu.

If you wish to participate in this program, please email Tracy Kish (tkish@kentlaw.iit.edu). 

 

Faculty