This course examines the various roles that lawyers can play to improve the lives of children and families marginalized by virtue of socioeconomic status or other challenges. It will also examine the various legal systems in which those children and families may be involved. For example, the class will explore the ways that attorneys can affect change for children and families through advocacy in a variety of areas of law, such as child welfare, delinquency, education, mental health, domestic violence, immigration, and tribal law. In addressing these issues, the course will explore how attorneys can use their skills to improve the lives of marginalized children through a variety of means, such as negotiation, litigation, interdisciplinary collaboration, class action litigation, and legislative advocacy.
The course is not structured as a traditional course focused on appellate case law. Instead, through class discussion, simulations, guest speakers, and other exercises, the course is focused on exploring the legal systems, policies, and unmet legal needs that affect low-income children and families and on developing professional skills that will serve you in advocating on behalf of children, families, and communities. In lieu of a final exam, students will work on a research project throughout the semester exploring an area of law that affects children and families, including the related legal systems, the individuals and organizations working to address that issue, and unmet legal needs in that area of law in New Mexico. The course will involve several additional classes earlier in the semester with fewer classes later in the semester, in part to accommodate student work on these projects. There are no prerequisites for this course.