Grant awarded for the VanSickle Family Law Clinic

The Texas Bar Foundation has awarded a $25,000 grant to become a Founding Supporter of the VanSickle Family Law Clinic.

DALLAS (SMU) – The Texas Bar Foundation has awarded a $25,000 grant to become a Founding Supporter of the VanSickle Family Law Clinic. 

SMU Law QuadSMU is working to secure 20-30 commitments of $25,000 that will help provide five years of operating funds for the new VanSickle Family Law Clinic at Dedman School of Law. Currently 15 Founding Supporters have committed. 

The VanSickle Family Law Clinic was established by an anonymous gift of $4 million all directed for endowment. The Founding Supporters program allows SMU to open the VanSickle Family Law Clinic this January while the endowment fund grows to sustain the clinic in the future.

The VanSickle Family Law Clinic will enroll its first students in January 2016 and provide much-needed assistance in the area of family law. Student attorneys will provide representation to otherwise unrepresented litigants on matters related to divorce, child custody, possession and access, paternity, modifications, enforcement actions, child and spousal support, and adoption. 

The Clinic will engage students in the performance of fundamental lawyer professional skills necessary for competent representation and zealous advocacy. These skills will include but are not limited to, interviewing and counseling clients, negotiating, fact development and analysis, strategic case planning, conflict resolution and decision making, motion and trial practice, drafting legal pleadings and ancillary documents, organization and management of legal work, cultural competency, collaboration and self-evaluation. 

Student attorneys will also provide limited assistance to pro se litigants at organized community legal clinics located in  low-income, culturally diverse areas of Dallas on matters such as “how to complete uncontested divorce forms” promulgated by the Texas Supreme Court. The Clinic’s work in this community-based project is aimed at providing support for already strained pro bono services and enhancing efforts to increase access to justice for the disadvantaged. 

“The Clinic will provide much-needed assistance to unrepresented family law litigants in our community,” says Chante Prox, Director of the VanSickle Family Law Clinic. “It simultaneously will afford student attorneys a phenomenal opportunity to develop practical lawyer skills and advance their emotional intelligence through reflection, self-assessment and client interactions.”

Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $16 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably-funded bar foundation.

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SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls approximately 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

The School of Law at SMU was founded in 1925. It was named Dedman School of Law in 2001 in honor of Dallas benefactors Nancy and Robert H. Dedman, Sr., and their family. SMU Dedman Law enjoys a national and international reputation of distinction. It is among the most competitive law schools in the country for admission, as well as one of the most successful in the placement of its graduates.