Advocating for S.C.’s Most Vulnerable

New Children’s Law Certificate Begins Fall 2013

It’s a universal truth that all children need a helping hand. But according to the annual Kids Count survey from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, South Carolina’s children might need more than most.

The latest study, released in June, shows that the Palmetto State slipped two spots since last year, and is now 45th in the nation when it comes to ranking a child’s ability to succeed. In fact, South Carolina has been no higher than No. 42 in the past 13 years.

A new program at the School of Law aims to change that and make a positive impact on the welfare of South Carolina’s children and families. This fall, the law school plans to unveil its Children’s Law Certificate program, which will increase the number of attorneys trained to be advocates for the state’s most vulnerable.

“In a perfect world, children would never have to see the inside of a courtroom,” said Danielle Holley-Walker, associate dean of academic affairs. “But it happens all too frequently, and almost any case involving family members can be so much more complex because of the emotions involved.

“We believe that, through this program, our graduates will be well prepared to handle these important cases and fight for the best possible outcome for each child.”

Beginning in their second year, students in the program will take a minimum of four classes that range in subject matter from family law to child protection and education law. Along with writing a scholarly research paper, students will participate in either a clinic, externship or a capstone course designed to give them real-world practice. Students in the program will also have faculty advisers, specialized career counseling and the opportunity to attend a speakers series featuring nationally recognized attorneys.

“This certificate is something that we’ve been working towards for a while now, and when coupled with our affiliation to the Children’s Law Center, we know we are well-positioned to become a national leader among law schools in this specialty,” Holley-Walker said. “But more importantly, we’ll be making a difference for the children in our state.”