||Pre-registration in Symplicity is required to participate in this program.
Deadline: 5:00 pm Thursday, September 4, 2014
Breakfast and lunch will be provided.
Please plan to arrive no later than 8:45 to check in, pick up a program packet, and get your food. The event will begin at 9:00 am.
This program allows law students to work directly with veteran attorneys and Oklahoma County family law judges to assist clients in finalizing their pro se divorces. Students participate in client counseling, drafting pleadings, and presenting clients to the Court. 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 judges often 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. The Pro Se Waiver Divorce docket is held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays starting at 1:30 pm and usually last until 3:30 or 4:00 pm. On Thursdays, law students, volunteer attorneys, and law school staff meet at 1:00 pm to prepare for the docket and go over the procedures for the day. The law students and attorneys then go to the Courtroom to accept client referrals from the Judge as she calls the docket. A lawyer and a law student then work with the client to remedy the documents or research the legal issues requested by the Court. The law student and attorney then present the client to the Court to allow the case to be finalized.
Students may volunteer once a month, twice a month, or every week, as their schedules allow. Even if you cannot stay for the entire docket, the experience and professional contacts you gain will be worth every minute of your time. The gratitude from the family law judges and clients is overwhelming. Moreover, knowing that you were able to use your skills as a law student (even as a new 1L) to make a real difference to a family in crisis can make even the hardest times of law school well worth it. The help and hope that our law students and attorneys offer to clients through this program represent the very best of our profession. Why wait to experience it?
As a law student volunteer, the most important skills that you will learn and use in this program involve client counseling, screening for domestic and sexual violence, and courtroom effectiveness. Even so, the training session will provide you with the basics of family law, domestic violence screening and response, determining child support, and divorce procedure from some of the best attorneys in the state. Whether your goal is to practice family or corporate tax law, the training and experience that you will receive from this program will help you enormously in law school, on the bar, and in your future life as a lawyer.
Finally, the time you spend working with the program qualifies as pro bono service that you can report toward an annual Pro Bono Service Recognition Award (a handsome, personalized gavel) as well as your Pro Bono Service Recognition Graduation Cord.