Family Empowerment and Legal Access Clinic

In the Family Empowerment and Legal Access Clinic, students develop the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for a professionally effective – and satisfying – client representation practice. Third-year students provide brief advice and limited legal representation to Allegheny County clients experiencing family law issues. Students are supervised by clinical faculty and certified by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to provide legal services to pro se litigants.

Seminar Component

The clinical seminars prepare students to succeed in client representation and draw collective lessons from their fieldwork. Seminar intensity and frequency tapers as the year progresses. Before the commencement of the fall semester, the clinic meets for an intensive orientation session to lay the foundation for fieldwork. During the semester, students meet once a week for seminars devoted to various topics. These topics include lawyering skills, substantive law, and professional identity development. As the semester progresses, seminars turn to rounds where students engage in group problem-solving and skills practice. In the spring semester, seminars cover advanced family law topics and shift to drawing lessons from fieldwork. 


  • Students in the clinic interview and advise clients, conduct necessary fact investigation and legal research, and draft related legal documents and filings. Students sometimes negotiate resolutions with opposing parties or advocate for a client’s interest before the Allegheny County Family Division’s Pro Se Motions Court.
  • Fieldwork is supported through rigorous supervision meetings conducted consistently and frequently during the semester. Students meet individually with clinical faculty weekly to engage in case planning, strategizing, and reflection.
  • Students are expected to complete 107 hours of fieldwork in the first semester for 2.5 credits and 127 hours in the second semester for three credits. Students are encouraged to discuss their concerns with clinical faculty before registration.



Transcript / Awarding of Credits

Students must complete two semesters, with four credits being awarded each semester.



Eligibility Requirements / Prerequisites

To enroll, students must have completed four semesters of law school and taken the basic 3-credit Family Law course before enrollment. Also, a student wishing to enroll must:

  • Attend one of the clinic orientation meetings scheduled each term before registration, or
  • Schedule an individual meeting with the clinic professor before registration

Application Procedure and Selection Basis

Enrollment is through an application submitted to the clinics before the registration period ending. Students must enroll for two semesters unless otherwise approved by the professor. Students selected for their first semester are automatically guaranteed enrollment in their second semester.