"The clinic experience is like no other law school class. It demands more, but it pays out more. As tough as the clinic may be at times, it makes future practice (after school) much easier. I got to work on Amicus, appellate, custody, divorce, probate, and more in the clinic. I have more confidence in the courtroom, and an even greater desire to litigate." – Carl Lazarus, 3L, Civil Practice Clinic F'08
"Taking a clinic will give you real world experience. You can really find out if practicing law is for you. You will be surprised how capable students are even compared to practicing attorneys. Each client is different and may need adjustments on part on the attorney to properly deal with each client." – Ryan Marquez, 3L, Civil Practice Clinic F'08
"My cases introduced me to some very interesting people I most likely never would have met but for this experience. Helping them help themselves was a beneficial experience for me, and often something valuable for them too. Our cases made television drama look dull, with complex fact patterns and vibrant real life characters." – Janice Becca, 3L, Civil Practice Clinic F'08
The Civil Practice Clinic partners with various organizations in Houston to assist low-income clients with their legal needs in family law, probate and consumer law. Several local family law judges also appoint the clinic to represent the best interests of children involved in custody disputes.
The following are just the highlights of the Civil Clinic litigation docket.
One recent case involved a biological father who fought for 2 ½ years to regain custody of his child from a couple who filed for adoption shortly after the child’s birth. The father was not married to the mother and lost touch with her following a brief stay in his native country. The Court refused to allow the father any visitation for nearly two years while allowing this child to grow and bond with the prospective adoptive parents who had met the mother only 10 days before the birth of the child. The Civil clinic students, as Amicus Attorneys for the child, were charged with the duty of interviewing, assessing and making a recommendation to the Court as to the best interest of the child. The students visited the father, the prospective adoptive parents and child, interviewed numerous witnesses, reviewed documents, and then spent several days in court cross-examining witnesses in order to protect the child’s best interest. The Judge ultimately terminated the biological father’s rights and granted the relief requested by the Petitioners, finding the termination in the best interest of the child.
A Civil clinic student worked on obtaining emergency orders for a client who needed immediate access to funds in a bank account in order to pay burial expenses for a family member. The student prepared the pleadings, obtained the necessary supporting information, filed the pleading with the court and followed up to make sure a judge was available to sign the order. Once signed, the student sent a copy to the client who then presented the order to the bank. The bank released the appropriate funds to the funeral home and various others involved in the burial of the deceased loved one. Without our student’s assistance, the client would have had a great deal more stress, grief and anxiety in dealing with the loss and burial of the family member.
Mrs. H came to the clinic seeking a divorce from her husband who left her and their two children 2 ½ years before and did not attempt any communication with them. When Mr. H decided to contact her, Mrs. H had moved on and wanted a divorce from him. Mr. H’s history of domestic violence and delinquent dealings made Mrs. H very adamant that he have very little interaction with their children. Mrs. H also requested that she receive the marital home as part of the divorce settlement. On November 11, 2008, the judge signed the final decree finalizing the client’s divorce.