A gift of $4 million has been donated to The Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University by an anonymous donor, according to The Dallas Morning News. The money was donated to endow the VanSickle Family Law Clinic, which offers free legal help to residents of Dallas as well as training law students.
The clinic is set to open in the fall of 2015 and it will help low-income residents with paternity, divorces, annulments, visitation, custody and child support issues.
“SMU’s Dedman School of Law is proud to be able to offer vital family legal services to people who might not otherwise be able to afford them,” SMU president R. Gerald Turnersaid. Turner also said that the clinic will be “invaluable to the lawyers we graduate who go on to practice family law and will provide all participating students with a heightened sensitivity about the human impact and challenges of family legal issues.”
The law dean ad interim, Julie Forrester, said, “The VanSickle Family Law Clinic will be a significant enhancement to the clinic program, providing outstanding service to its clients while also providing our students with practical experience and encouraging in them a commitment to public service.”
Students who enroll in the clinic will study such areas as preparing court documents, interviewing, counseling, conducting legal research, conducting investigations, negotiating custody agreements, advocating for clients at hearings, trial and conferences and negotiating property settlements.
Forrester continued with, “Dedman Law’s clinical program has evolved to reflect changing perspectives in legal education and innovation in legal practice while remaining committed to the ideals that shaped it from its inception: public service, professional responsibility and outstanding skills training.”