The Catholic University of America

Families and the Law Clinic

The Families and the Law Clinic (FALC) is designed to help students develop lawyering skills through practical experience, to take on cases of domestic violence, family law, and immigration law. By representing persons who would otherwise proceed pro se, FALC students gain hands-on experience while learning the dynamics of domestic violence and poverty.


FALC students help their clients address immediate safety needs and assert their legal rights by obtaining emergency temporary and civil protection orders (CPO). Students also represent clients in longer-term litigation arising from their abusive family situations, including resolving complex divorce, legal separation, property and debt distribution, child custody, child visitation, and child support matters. Additionally, students are able to respond to the unique needs of immigrant victims of domestic violence, helping them to attain legal status and employment authorization through VAWA self-petitions, battered spouse waivers, and U visa applications.


Clinic students have full responsibility for every aspect of their cases. Under the supervision of experienced attorneys, FALC students may draft legal memoranda and pleadings, prepare and argue motions, and conduct trials before the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Through this experience, students are able to refine writing and research skills, and to develop effective trial techniques and other lawyering skills, such as counseling, interviewing, and negotiation.


As part of the Families and the Law Clinic, students attend a weekly seminar that includes lecture, discussion, participatory exercises, and simulations that cover a variety of topics in family law, poverty law, immigration law, and professional responsibility. Throughout the semester, students are provided numerous opportunities to share their insights about their cases and clinical experiences, to group strategize, and to further develop advocacy and litigation technique. The course culminates in a mock trial where students prepare and carry out an entire case from beginning to end in front of a judge.


In addition to their caseload, students participate in various community education projects and engage in policy work designed to address systemic social problems associated with domestic violence. Students often volunteer at the D.C. Superior Court Self-Help Center, staff local free walk-in legal clinics, and provide free legal information to domestic violence survivors at a local emergency shelter.


FALC is open to all 2nd and 3rd year students and there are no course prerequisites. Students earn 6 credits and commit 20 hours per week (including the weekly class seminar). With permission, students may be permitted to reenroll in FALC for subsequent semester for 3 credits or for 1 credit. Students interested in enrolling should keep their schedules clear on Thursdays to accommodate potential court appearances and other related obligations.

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D.C. Domestic Violence Case Digest

Your contribution allows us to continue to provide free legal services to those who would otherwise go unrepresented. 
We thank you for your support.


Catherine F. Klein
CCLS Director



Lisa Martin
FALC Co-director