WashULaw to Offer Guardian ad Litem Clinic and Urban Revitalization Practicum

Washington University School of Law is expanding its award-winning Clinical Education Program with the addition of a Guardian ad Litem Clinic and an Urban Revitalization Practicum, beginning in fall 2016. The new offerings bring to 19 the number of clinical opportunities in which law students provide free legal services to the community, while learning professional skills through working with clients, attorneys, judges, and legislators.

"We look forward to providing our students with these two new and innovative experiential opportunities," said Professor Bob Kuehn, Associate Dean for Clinical Education. "The added offerings will provide our students with an opportunity to develop strong lawyering skills, while addressing two areas that are in critical need of legal services in our region – children in foster care and urban rejuvenation."

In the Guardian ad Litem Clinic, students will provide free legal services to foster children who are victims of abuse and neglect in the City of St. Louis. In addition to fine-tuning their lawyering practice skills, students will have the opportunity to recognize and resolve the ethical dilemmas presented by those who serve as guardians ad litem.

The innovative new clinic will be taught by Kathryn P. Banks, legal services director for Voices for Children, which represents nearly 600 St. Louis children in foster care. Banks brings to the clinic a wealth of experience in juvenile advocacy. She previously was a staff attorney for WashULaw’s Children & Family Advocacy Clinic and Juvenile Law & Justice Clinic and was acting director of the Criminal Justice Clinic. She also served as an attorney for the Missouri State Public Defender Office’s Youth Advocacy Unit.

Through the new Urban Revitalization Clinical Practicum, law students will focus on the laws and policies governing urban areas and work with attorneys to address revitalization matters in the St. Louis region. The course will examine institutional, legal, and public policy challenges, while working with students to devise legal solutions for urban decline and social and economic inequality.

The practicum builds on the short-course, "The Lawyer’s Role in Urban Revitalization: St. Louis as a Case Study," taught by Ryan Rippel, who leads the Gates Foundation’s U.S. poverty and economic mobility learning initiative. The new practicum will be taught by Rippel and two other attorneys with extensive experience urban core matters: Tino Ochoa and Brian Weaver. Ochoa is a member of Bryan Cave LLP’s Real Estate and Financial Services Client Service Groups and is actively involved in revitalization efforts in the Old North St. Louis neighborhood. Weaver is a partner at Stinson Leonard Street LLP, where he counsels investors, community development entities, nonprofit organizations, and developers in all aspects of financing tax credit transactions.

Founded in 1973, the Clinical Education Program enables students to assist needy clients in a full range of substantive areas, including appellate, child and family defense, civil rights, criminal defense, criminal prosecution, entrepreneurship, environmental, housing, immigration, intellectual property, and taxation matters. Clinics and externships, including programs based in Washington, D.C., New York City, and internationally, offer law students unparalleled opportunities to hone their skills as future practitioners while helping to increase access to justice.