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HIV/AIDS Clinic Highlights

Monday, September 15, 2008  
Posted by: The Advocate
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The HIV/AIDS Clinic started representing parents in child abuse and neglect cases as of September of this year. The clinic is one of only two in the nation focusing exclusively on representation of parents; the other is the NYU Law School Family Defense Clinic.

The Clinic is composed of 12 3rd-year law students, co-taught  and supervised by Professors Matthew I. Fraidin and Tanya A. Cooper. Professor Fraidin is former Legal Director of The Children's Law Center (CLC) and has taught in the UDC-DCSL clinical program for the past 5 years. Cooper was an outstanding trial attorney at CLC for five years.

Each student is required to record at least 350 "billable" hours during the semester, and most are on target to work more than 400.

Clinic students have been appointed by six different Magistrate Judges to represent a total of 11 clients at the initial hearing stage. Students also are representing in the trial court a twelfth client, who was determined to be slightly over-income for CCAN representation. In addition, students are handling two D.C. Court of Appeals cases referred by CCAN attorneys.

The clinic's 12 trial court clients are the parents of 20 children removed by CFSA on suspicion of child abuse or neglect. The clinic successfully advocated for five of the 20 removed children to be released from CFSA custody and returned to a parent immediately, at the very outset of court proceedings.

In addition, within two months of the initial hearings, three additional clinic cases had been dismissed, allowing three more children to go home. According to Professor Fraidin, a fourth case is likely to be dismissed soon, allowing another child to return home.

In addition to neglect cases, students also have represented clients in related litigation, including a probate matter for one client and a civil protection order case for another.

At least one student has expressed an interest in applying to serve as a parents' attorney on the CCAN panel, and another intends to represent parents in dependency cases in his home state of New Jersey following his graduation in May 2009.

The legal clinic has received publicity in the D.C. Examiner, with Professor Fraidin and the clinic featured in two articles. In addition, both Professors Fraidin and Cooper have been appointed to the Steering Committee of the ABA Center on Children and the Law Parent Representation Project, which will hold the first-ever national conference on parent representation in May 2009 in Washington, D.C.

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