Clinic Student Experience 

The Caruth Child Advocacy Clinic is a 6 credit course open to second and third year law students.  Students are eligible to enter the clinic lottery if they have already completed 1/2 of their hours for graduation (45 hours).  Students on academic probation are not eligible to enter the lottery.

Evidence is a pre- or co-requisite for the Caruth Child Advocacy Clinic.

The Clinic’s capacity is 8 students per semester in the fall and spring semesters. The child advocacy clinic is not offered during the summer.
Students enrolled in the Caruth Child Advocacy Clinic attend an intensive orientation before the semester commences.  A segment of the orientation is geared specifically toward interdisciplinary training, and we visit the offices of a number of stakeholders in the local child welfare community.  The subjects covered during the mandatory orientation include an overview of child welfare cases, the role of the guardian/attorney ad litem, and professional responsibility issues.
The Caruth Child Advocacy Clinic is generally appointed in a dual role as guardian ad litem and attorney ad litem (“GAL/AAL”) by the Dallas County Juvenile District Courts.  We also sometimes represent a child in a "limited appointment" geared toward achieving a specific item of relief.  The Supervisor's goal is to assign each student 2 to 3 cases during the semester - cases in different stages of the proceedings.  A student may work with another student depending on the complexity of the case.

Class Component

During the semester, there are bi-weekly classes that focus on child advocacy law and the core practice issues relevant to it. 

Courtroom Experience

Students represent their clients at all hearings, mediation proceedings, and trial under the supervision of the director. 

Interdisciplinary Lectures

Throughout the semester, various professionals from other disciplines come to speak to the students about how their field intersects with the child welfare system.
Student field work includes: interviewing child clients and their family members; investigating the facts of the removal with the Department of Family and Protective Regulatory Services, Child Protective Services (“DFPS-CPS”); interviewing health care professionals, school officials, day care workers, and the police; monitoring family services; attending meetings with DFPS-CPS; conducting home studies on potential relative placements for the children; observing the children while in foster care and during parent/child visitation; advocating for various services for the children; and working with Court Appointed Special Advocates (“CASA”).
Each week, students attend a tutorial with the director to review what is going on with the client and the case. The tutorials serve as a time outside of the classroom for the director to provide guidance to the student and evaluate how the student progresses in his role as GAL/AAL. Most of the fieldwork done by the students is unsupervised, except in complicated cases or cases with extremely serious abuse issues. Students are graded on a variety of factors, including class participation, case analysis, oral and written advocacy, client counseling and professionalism.

Chief Counsel

Students who have completed the clinic are eligible to apply for the position of Chief Counsel for any semester following their completion of the clinic course. Chief Counsels serve as mentors to the following semester’s child ad students, assist in case management, preparation for hearings and trial, and conduct ongoing clinic research. Chief Counsels earn 2 to 3 credit hours for the semester and receive a grade.

Summer Fellowships

Summer Fellowships are available with the Caruth Child Advocacy Clinic for students who have completed their second and third year in law school. It is not required that the student complete a semester in the clinic prior to being a fellow. The fellowships are paid positions, and the hours that a student works are flexible or can be done for public service.

The fellowships offer the students the opportunity to assist with the representation of children in ongoing cases, conduct research, and assist in planning seminars/symposiums.