A shortage of family law attorneys who could handle pro bono clients prompted Raleigh family law attorney Carole Gailor to donate $250,000to Campbell Law School to open the Gailor Family Law Litigation Clinic this fall.
“While many family lawyers did the occasional family law case pro bono, so many were unable to be helped and were left to their own devices trying to navigate an often unforgiving legal system,” said Gailor, founder of the firm that is now Gailor Hunt Davis Taylor & Gibbs, PLLC.
The needs assessment just completed by the Chief Justice’s Commission on Access to Justice found this to be the greatest area of unmet need for legal services among North Carolinians of modest resources.
PRACTICAL SIDE OF FAMILY LAW
Students in the clinic serve clients who are indigent and low-income residents of Wake County. “These are real cases with real clients with real problems,” said Richard A. Waugaman III, the director of the pro bono clinic and a practicing family lawyer in Raleigh.
Ten students, mostly 3Ls who have shown an interest in practicing family law, are working in the clinic this fall. Each student has their own office cubicle and their own phone number to handle 3-6 clients under the supervision of Waugaman. The clinic ties in with a class taught by Waugaman on the practical side of family law.
One of the biggest challenges for new family lawyers is learning not to internalize cases and “take them home with them.”
A whole section of the substantive class is on maintaining boundaries and “a work-life balance with an understanding that you want to be empathetic, and relate to your clients, but you do have to keep a certain amount of boundary between yourself and your work,” said Waugaman.
GREAT HIRING OPPORTUNITY
Cases handled by the clinic include child custody, child support, spousal support, and domestic violence with protective orders. Students get to file lawsuits and file answers. They also represent clients in family law cases in court.
“During the hearing, the students take the lead, they make the arguments, and they ask the questions,” explained Waugaman. “I’m there to serve as a backup. My role is to get them ready on the front end, so they are prepared and able to go argue these cases as they will after they graduate, pass the bar, and are members of the legal community.”
The clinic provides a great opportunity for local firms or even firms state-wide who are looking for family law associates, Waugaman added.
“The clinic means they will be able to hire our recent grads who have had hands-on experience with real cases and participated in real trials in a family law setting.”