Students in the Child Advocacy Clinic are appointed by courts to serve as the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to represent children in cases involving allegations of neglect and abuse. The GAL acts as a court-appointed expert witness charged with investigating the allegations made by the parties. We interview fact witnesses, conduct home visits, review pleadings, and gather medical, school, and law enforcement records. We then prepare a report to the court about our investigation, and make recommendations as to the custody arrangement that would be in the best interest of the child. We also assist individuals in uncontested matters, to establish guardianships or finalize custody arrangements or adoptions, in order to achieve permanency for the involved children. Students may also work on special projects to promote child advocacy in Mississippi.
Many of the children we represent are the victims of abuse or neglect. The CAC provides students with training that is practical and experiential instead of being merely theoretical. Students not only learn how to “think like a lawyer,” but also how to “act as a lawyer.” Our recommendations have real world consequences and a permanent impact on the lives of the children.