There has been a lot of discussion lately about how Florida Coastal “serves the underserved.” It is one of Coastal Law’s mission pillars. How does the clinic achieve that mission pillar? The Coastal Law clinical program is one of the most visible forms of service to the underserved and indigent community.
In the family law clinic, students assist individuals in abusive relationships get a divorce, represent children;s best interests in contested custody cases and assist fathers in establishing paternity so they can visit their children.
The disability and public benefits students challenge state agencies to help mentally retarded individuals maintain their community supports, they assist disabled children reaching the age of majority with maintaining social security benefits, and they assist parent caregivers in getting guardian advocacy over their disabled children so they can continue to assist in making healthcare and financial decisions.
The immigration clinic assists victims of domestic violence in filing their own petitions to become citizens, prevents refugees and asylees from having to return to their country of origin, and facilitates human trafficking victims rise above their enslavement to achieve permanent residency.
The consumer clinic represents victims of predatory lending, fights companies engaged in abusive debt collection practices, and defends against foreclosures so families can stay in their homes.
The criminal defense clinic defends individuals who cannot afford an attorney who have been charged with misdemeanors. Our clients come from diverse backgrounds and usually meet the Court’s indigency standards. They are individuals unable to afford a private attorney and don’t necessarily fit within the priorities of other local legal programs for the poor.
The students get real experience with live clients who, without the students’ help, would be in desparate circumstances. Individuals may debate the meaning of our pillar, “serving the underserved” but time spent in the clinic reveals the every day down and dirty meaning of the concept. The clinic is the lifesblood of Coastal Law’s mission pillar, “serving the underserved.”