Chance at Childhood
Successful practitioners in today’s family court system must understand the bigger picture, which includes knowledge of family dynamics, child development, domestic violence, and other topics not often offered through a traditional approach to legal education. We are looking for students who have a strong interest in interdisciplinary practice as advocates for children.
The Child and Family Advocacy Certificate Program is a joint program at Michigan State University offered by the College of Law and the School of Social Work. It is designed to strengthen the knowledge base, practice and advocacy skills of masters-level social work students and law students.
Students interested in Family Law and Child Welfare Law get hands-on experience in the daily work that they will encounter in child advocacy.
Our program is open to both law students and MSW students. By pairing future social workers with future lawyers, we offer a unique opportunity for students from different disciplines to learn from each other. Law students are required to take a child welfare course in the School of Social Work and social work students must take at least one family law course in the College of Law. Social work students and law students work in pairs to interview adults and children, and perform home checks for child safety.
Students also provide consultations, participate in outreach activities focused on the legal needs of Michigan’s families and children, and operate the Ingham County Legal Self-Help Center.
I worked on three cases over my semester in the clinic. The first was a paternity case, the second a custody and parenting time case, and the last a guardianship case. Eventually, I would like to become a Juvenile Court judge and I believe that increasing my experience in Family Law will help prepare me for that goal.
We advocate for children involved in the court system in many different cases. Students gain experience in child custody, supervised visitation, child protection, guardianships, child support issues, and adoption matters.
At the end of the day, regardless of how emotional and difficult the situation may be, you always remember that you are speaking for a child who wouldn’t necessarily have a voice in the legal proceedings.