Academics: Professional Training

Child Advocacy Clinic

ADJUNCTS PROFESSORS MARIO SALAS AND AMY S. WALTERS ; 8 Credits

In the yearlong clinic, offered in conjunction with the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center, students represent low-income children statewide who need legal representation.

This yearlong clinical course includes two semesters of supervised legal representation of children and weekly course meetings. In the fall semester, the weekly course meetings will include case supervision supported by clinical instruction, readings, and guest speakers. In the spring semester, the majority of the weekly course meetings will be focused on case supervision. Students earn four (4) credits during the fall semester and four (4) credits during the spring semester. This clinical course is offered by JustChildren, a program of the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville. Though most of the legal work will involve the representation of clients in the juvenile justice system or children being denied legally mandated educational opportunities, students may also represent children in cases involving immigration, services for incarcerated children, mental health and developmental disabilities law, and foster care and social services law. Students will gather factual information and conduct legal research to analyze their client’s legal rights. Students will represent children in negotiations and administrative hearings and will participate in court proceedings to the extent permitted by law. Students will also have the opportunity to work on policy issues impacting children. Opportunities to work on impact litigation also may arise during the year. 

Because students will participate in frequent visits to juvenile correctional centers to provide incarcerated youth with access to counsel, a background check may be required. During the fall and spring semesters, students will meet weekly for two hours at the Legal Aid Justice Center (1000 Preston Ave.) for instruction and case supervision. During the fall semester, the two hour weekly class session will include the clinical seminar, which will provide students with an understanding of the legal obstacles confronting low-income children, the various legal systems and settings in which the students will practice, and generalized instruction regarding the representation of children. It also will include case supervision, where students will meet in small groups with their supervising attorneys. During the spring semester, the majority of the two hour weekly class session will be spent on case supervision. Students will meet with supervising attorneys outside of weekly supervision as necessary, and the supervising attorneys will accompany students to all administrative and/or court hearings.

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