For the past year, General Practice Clinic (GPC) students represented survivors of intimate partner violence in protection order cases. With the guidance of Co-Directors Andrew Budzinski and Tianna Gibbs, students extended their support of survivors beyond legal representation, helping their clients secure housing, economic security, and personal safety.
This fall (2023) GPC students partnered with the D.C. Family Law Assistance Network (FLAN). FLAN, jointly operated by the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, the Legal Aid Society of D.C., and the D.C. Affordable Law Firm, aims to bridge the justice gap in family law cases. Family law cases often involve a high number of pro se litigants, individuals representing themselves in court due to financial constraints. FLAN plays a critical role in connecting these litigants with attorneys who can offer valuable advice and brief legal services.
The students from GPC helped fill the gap by providing unbundled legal services to family law litigants in custody and child support cases, providing legal expertise to navigate the complex legal landscape. This contribution was instrumental in ensuring that parents lacking legal representation could navigate the complexities of family law proceedings.
Professor Tianna Gibbs, co-director of the General Practice Clinic, led a collaborative effort that partnered with D.C. area law schools and the D.C. Superior Court’s Domestic Relations Branch Attorney Negotiators to provide mediation in custody cases between parents. Student attorneys helped parents resolve disputes about their children and avoid litigation. This experience taught students the value of alternative dispute resolution for family law litigants, who often find themselves ill-served by the adversarial litigation process.
The work of the General Practice Clinic over the past year exemplifies the transformative impact that law students can have on individuals facing complex legal challenges. By representing survivors of intimate partner violence in protection order cases, GPC students have not only provided legal counsel but also the essential support that survivors need to rebuild their lives. Their collaboration with FLAN and involvement in alternative dispute resolution showcases a commitment to evolving legal practices and making the justice system more accessible and equitable for all.