Juvenile and Family Law Clinic
- Professor Colene Robinson
- Course Number and Description
- Mission and Clients
- Type of Legal Assistance
- Juvenile and Family Law Program
- Juvenile and Family Law Certificate
The Juvenile and Family Law Clinic (JFLC) provides legal services for indigent children, youth, and families. Our clients are referred to us through the courts and Boulder County Legal Services. Children and families facing abuse, poverty, homelessness, and despair are among the neediest members of our community requiring quality legal representation. Student attorneys in the JFLC help meet that need.
JFLC clients are predominantly children and youth in the child welfare or the juvenile justice system, or low income parents needing divorce or custody assistance. Clinic students act as the lead attorneys on their cases, and work with their clients from the beginning of a family law case through its conclusion. Students are responsible for gathering information and documents, preparing court filings, appearing at court status conferences, mandatory mediation, and court hearings. The JFLC helps students to develop good client relationships, to become competent in Colorado juvenile and family law in particular, and in Colorado civil practice more broadly.
JFLC is a yearlong course so that students are able to work on their cases from start to finish. Typically, students begin by interviewing their clients (this may be during a home visit for child welfare clients), preparing and filing initial court pleadings, and taking the lead at administrative and emergency hearings. At such hearings, students may present opening and closing statements and examine witnesses. In the spring semester, typically students prepare for and attend mediation on each of their cases, including preparing mediation statements. For cases that are not resolved at mediation, students take the lead on a final contested hearing. Hearings include preparing a pre-hearing brief, opening and closing statements, and witness examinations.
In addition to casework, students meet weekly in seminar. In the fall, the seminar focuses on the substantive law in domestic relations and the children's code, while in the spring we focus on juvenile delinquency. We explore statutes, case law and law practice issues like ethics, client counseling, and negotiation, to name a few. In the spring, each student teaches a week of class on a topic of her or his choosing, related to clinic work or experiences.
JFLC exposes students to legal issues surrounding intra-familial disputes, as well as when the government intervenes in the family. Student attorneys have:
- Represented children in state court as the child’s guardian ad litem, or legal representative;
- Represented homeless/runaway youth and pregnant and parenting teens;
- Advocated for youth clients in mental health institutions;
- Represented young people charged as juveniles, or as adults, in the criminal justice system;
- Represented parents and children in adoptions;
- Represented parties in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases, and Indian Child Welfare Act cases;
- Handled appeals;
- Represented respondents in civil child welfare cases;
- Represented parties in truancy cases;
- Drafted amici briefs in the Colorado Supreme Court on cutting edge child welfare issues; and
- Presented at statewide legal conferences on engaging and empowering youth.