Students in the Family Law Clinic represent victims of domestic abuse, and other individuals with family law disputes such as divorce and child custody cases. Students work under the supervision of family law expert Professor Jill Engle to provide legal assistance at all stages of representation. The work typically includes intensive counseling, case strategy and negotiation, for which the students learn a client-centered approach to the practice of law.
The Family Law Clinic normally provides students the opportunity to work on a variety of family law case types with several different clients during their semester in the Clinic. Professor Engle partners with numerous organizations to support this work, including MidPenn Legal Services, the Centre County Women's Resource Center, and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Public policy projects are also an aspect of the Clinic's work, involving these same partners as well as the American Bar Association and Penn State's Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness.
Family Law Clinic students have an opportunity to fully engage in client representation under Pennsylvania's student practice rules in the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County. They are expected to work closely with their clients to develop case goals, but also to develop their own goals for their clinical experience and attend to those throughout the semester. The Clinic stresses reflective learning, and critical thinking about litigation tactics and client counseling. Students are held to high standards as they hone their written and oral advocacy skills, and as they analyze each client's options with an eye towards client empowerment and justice. The Clinic includes a weekly two-hour classroom component in addition to the time spent on casework and other projects.