Sarkeys Law Center Room 103
This opportunity allows you to work with the Oklahoma County family law judges and some of the best family law attorneys in Oklahoma City while assisting clients who cannot afford a lawyer for their divorce. This pro bono opportunity allows law students to get actual courtroom experience now. These pro se litigants have drafted their divorce documents using a variety of sources: the Internet, paralegals, divorce “kits,” and form books. When the documents are presented to the judge for an order granting the divorce, the judge may find that the documents are incorrect, do not follow the law, or do not adequately address all the necessary legal issues in the case. The pro se litigant is then left to start the process again, without any help.
Here is where you can help. Three times a week, during the pro se waiver divorce docket, law students will be present in the courthouse to assist these pro se litigants with their cases and documents so that their divorce can be granted. An experienced family law lawyer will always be present with you in the courthouse on Thursdays to assist you and the clients. Space in the courthouse to confer privately with the client will be available, as well as a computer and printer and forms of necessary documents. The family law judge will refer the client to you and your supervising lawyer for help during the court docket, and in many instances, you may remedy the situation so that the client may have the divorce granted that day, rather than having to return to the courthouse at a later time. The docket is on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 1:00 pm to approximately 3:30 or 4:00 pm. Students may volunteer one time a month, twice a month, or every week, as your schedule allows.
The family law judges have told us that this help by law students with the pro se waiver divorce docket is very meaningful to them and to the pro se litigants. You will gain great experience, learn much about family law, become acquainted with the judges, court personnel, and lawyers who practice in this area, and put your legal education to use for those who need help the most but who cannot afford a lawyer.
A mandatory training session is planned to prepare you for this opportunity. Included in the training session is information presented by experienced family law lawyers in private practice in Oklahoma City, from Legal Aid, and Oklahoma Child Support Services. Basic information about divorce law, including jurisdiction, property division, alimony, child custody, and child support will be addressed. The procedural aspects of a waiver divorce will be discussed, as well as the requisite information to include in pleadings and orders. Sample forms for pleadings and orders will be available.
Many pro se waiver divorces include an element of domestic violence. Experienced lawyers for domestic violence victims will present information on how to screen and counsel clients on domestic violence issues and the ethical concerns in such cases. Considerations about the safety of the victim and how court proceedings may impact that safety, the needs and concerns of domestic violence victims and their families, and how to recognize when domestic violence may be present will be discussed.
Pre-registration in Symplicity is required to participate in this program.
(Log into Symplicity and open the Events module from the main navigation across the top of the screen.)
Deadline: 5:00 pm Thursday, August 23, 2012
*Interested 1L’s awaiting access to their Symplicity accounts may pre-register directly with Law Career Services via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.