Clinic students will provide free mediation services on a variety of family court matters, including divorce actions (addressing issues such as child support, visitation, alimony, and the distribution of property) and post-divorce matters (such as changes in support or visitation).
MEDIATION LAW CLINIC
Susan M. Donovan
Open to 2nd and 3rd year students.
This is a full-year clinic and is offered for 6 total credits (3 credits for the fall semester & 3 for the spring).
Seminar: 1 Hour TBA
The Mediation Law Clinic began in the fall 2009 semester. The Clinic provides free mediation services to parties with cases pending in family courts in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.
Like the Law School’s other law clinics, the Mediation Clinic has two primary goals, one educational and one public service oriented. First, the Clinic seeks to train law students, by assuming the role of mediator, to be effective, highly professional lawyers and mediators. In particular, the Clinic was created to provide law students with the opportunity to learn the professional skills involved in settling legal disputes, particularly the skill of mediating disputes. The Clinic’s second goal is to provide free mediation services to families involved in legal disputes. By providing an alternative to the adversarial litigation process, the Clinic seeks to help families settle disputes more promptly and to reduce the emotional trauma that protracted family court litigation can often produce.
Highlights of Mediation Clinic Activities
The Clinic began mediating family court disputes in the fall semester 2009. Students must have an entire morning or afternoon free either Wednesdays or Thursdays both Fall and Spring semesters.
Who Will the Mediation Clinic Represent?
The Clinic’s free mediation services are available to parties with cases pending in family courts in Tuscaloosa County. Although families can seek out the assistance of the Mediation Clinic on their own, cases (usually involving pro se parties who are not represented by attorneys) generally will be referred to the Mediation Clinic by family court judges.
What Types of Work Would I Do in the Mediation Clinic?
Clinic students will provide free mediation services on a variety of family court matters, including divorce actions (addressing issues such as child support, visitation, alimony, and the distribution of property) and post-divorce matters (such as changes in support or visitation). Upon entering the Clinic, students will first learn about Alabama substantive family law, the mediation process, and alternative dispute resolution techniques. Then, after receiving the training required of mediators in Alabama, the students will arrange and handle mediation sessions with family court parties. The mediations will be the responsibility of the student teams, but all students will practice under the Clinic Director’s law license, be supervised in initial mediations by the Director, and meet on a regular basis with the Director to discuss their cases.
What are the Mediation Clinic Credits and Workload?
The Clinic is open to both 2nd and 3rd year law students and is limited to 8 students. The course is a full-year clinic and awards 6 academic credits total (i.e., 3 credits for the fall coursework and 3 credits for the spring coursework). Students are expected to work an average of 10 hours per week in this clinic. The course includes casework, family law, and, for the first month, a weekly classroom or seminar component. In the seminar, students learn the procedures and laws related to mediation and discuss the skills and professional responsibility issues relevant to the family court mediation process. For those cases successfully mediated, the students will prepare the orders for the judges. Once mediation starts, the classroom part of the Clinic involves “case round” presentations and discussions by the students of important facts and issues in their cases once a month. There will be several intensive training sessions at the beginning of the fall semester, twenty hours total, so the students will be qualified to mediate. After completing the Clinic, graduating, and passing the Alabama Bar, students are automatically eligible to be listed on the Alabama Bar roster of mediators.