Fulton County Family Law Clinic Expands Help for Self-represented Litigants

The Superior Court of Fulton County Family Division, in partnership with Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) and the Georgia Hispanic Bar Association (GHBA), is piloting a new project designed to address the growing need for legal assistance for the self-represented individuals in family court. The Fulton County Family Law Clinic (FLC) will provide legal services to low-income litigants, including non-English speakers, involved in family matters.           
The clinic, which started operation in September, will be held each Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Family Law Information Center in the Fulton County Justice Center.
Under the direction of professor, attorney and GHBA member, Bernadette Olmos, third-year law students at JMLS will be actively engaged throughout the year in interviewing clients, completing child support worksheets, assisting unrepresented litigants with paperwork for simple divorces, name changes and legitimization, and representing clients at status conferences, mediations, uncontested hearings and TPO hearings.
This project will extend the current assistance offered by the Family Law Information Center allowing for litigants to receive additional support and serves a two-fold purpose. Law students gain hands-on experience dealing with clients and litigants without resources, and sometimes with language barriers, receive valuable help navigating the court system. “The Family Law Clinic is a win/win for the school, the court, and the citizens of Fulton County,” said Renata Turner, AJMLS Assistant Dean of Pro Bono and Experiential Learning.
According to Yolanda L. Lewis, District Court Administrator, “The addition of a new, innovative clinic reinforces the Superior Court’s commitment to community engagement. This project is a natural extension of our pledge to promote public awareness to the mechanisms available to those truly in need.”
Deputy Chief Judge Wendy Shoob noted, “Through such partnerships, the Superior Court has the opportunity to demonstrate to the law students the value of using one’s legal skills to meaningfully assist people within their community. In addition, being able to practice in a court setting is an invaluable learning opportunity that helps prepare students for future practice.”
“The GHBA is honored to partner with the Fulton County Superior Court Family Division and AJMLS in such a worthwhile endeavor. This is an undertaking that will directly address a need in underrepresented communities while providing the law students, many of whom are minorities, with a priceless opportunity to develop legal skills and experience first-hand the value of community service. The project falls squarely within GHBA’s mission and we hope to continue this partnership for years to come,” said Ana Maria Martinez, President, Georgia Hispanic Bar Association.

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