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Dean’s Note: Expanding Clinical Education | Lobeck Taylor Family Advocacy Clinic

Thursday, July 10, 2014

FACThe Lobeck Taylor Community Advocacy Clinic (CAC) is the newest addition to The University of Tulsa College of Law’s Clinical Education Program. The FAC joins a long-standing clinic, the Immigrant Rights Project, in providing critical legal services to the community, particularly the needs of women and children, while offering students real-world experience.

Through the direction of Anna Carpenter, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Family Advocacy Clinic, and an innovative and diverse mix of direct representation cases and community-based projects, advocates are trained for today’s rapidly changing legal landscape. The clinic seeks to ensure students are as prepared to make an oral argument in court as they are to make a presentation at a city council meeting. At the same time, student attorneys serve the community, promote law reform and systems change, and increase access to justice for low-income individuals and families.
(PHOTO: FAC Spring Class of 2014. From left: Sarah Harp, Carol Beatty, Nicole Johnson, Professor Carpenter, Quinn Cooper, Lindsey Fine, Kevin Lewis, Clint Wilson, Marianela Estrella)

Training Dynamic Advocates while Collaborating with the Community
The FAC’s student attorneys learn to represent clients inside and outside of the courtroom using a range of advocacy strategies in their case and project work.  In case work, students hone essential lawyering skills including client counseling, negotiation, and trial advocacy.

In their project work, students develop a range of skills such as advanced legal research and analysis, strategic planning, professional communication, collaboration and complex problem-solving.

In the FAC’s inaugural semester, the clinic’s case work consisted of student attorneys representing victims of domestic violence in protective order litigation in the Tulsa County District Court. The students provided holistic representation to meet each client’s particular needs.  At the same time, in the clinic’s projects, students worked in teams representing two different organizational clients. One team investigated whether Tulsa County is operating an illegal debtors’ prison and developed recommendations to reform the criminal justice system. Another team developed comprehensive recommendations to help a multi-disciplinary social services agency navigate the ethical challenges that arise when professionals from different disciplines work together to serve the same client population.

Project-Based Learning
The FAC’s choice to use projects as a teaching tool, in addition to traditional cases, is designed to push students to find creative solutions to complex problems that have no obvious litigation remedy. By emphasizing creative problem-solving, the clinic prepares students for a range of challenges they will face in their legal careers.

Based on the needs of each client, students’ work may involve policy analysis, advocacy campaigns, legislative drafting, original research, capacity building, or strategic planning, to name a few. For example, in the clinic’s first semester, the team of students who investigated Tulsa County’s criminal justice system conducted original research, which included legal analysis, court observations, and interviews with judges, law enforcement, court clerks, reporters, and incarcerated individuals to produce a report titled, Assessing the Cost: Criminal Fines, Court Costs, and Procedure versus Practice in Tulsa County.

In future semesters, the FAC will continue to represent victims of domestic violence in protective order cases while expanding the clinic’s advocacy work in the community through new projects and client partnerships.
Please accept my best wishes for continued success in all that you do.

Janet K. Levit 
Dean and Dean John Rogers Endowed Chair