Reflections on Family Court Visits

In the Spring 2002 semester several sections of the School of Law’s first-year Lawyering Seminar were assigned to work on simulation-based problems set in the New York City Family Court system. During the semester the seminar students, preparing for careers in public service and public-interest practice, visited Family Courts in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Working closely with Court Attorneys, students who attended court sessions on a regular basis reported to specific judges, and sometimes were called upon to assist Court Attorneys in research and drafting. Students in other seminars visited a Family Court on a single occasion, as they prepared for oral argument in their own simulation exercise. Asked to write a reflection on their visit, the students in one of the seminars were encouraged to consider the interactions and communications among judges, other court personnel, lawyers, and clients, as well as the effects of architecture and spatial arrangements in the courtrooms they visited.