Child Advocacy Clinic

Child Advocacy Clinic

Child Advocacy Clinic

In the yearlong clinic, offered in conjunction with the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center, students represent low-income children in the context of education and the justice system.

This clinic is focused on addressing the legal needs of Virginia’s low-income children and youth both through individual client representation and broader reform efforts such as local and state policy advocacy, impact litigation and community education. 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. Clinic clients are often those youth most at the margins, and students will gain exposure to and a deeper understanding of the impact of race, poverty, disability and system-involvement on Virginia’s youth. 

All students will have the opportunity to gather factual information and lead client interviews, conduct legal research on the issues presented, and present their findings with proposed next steps to assist the individual client and others like them in resolving their legal issue. Some students will have the opportunity to represent youthful clients in court, and others will have the opportunity to represent them in school meetings, discipline hearings or other administrative forums.  
 
In recent years, students in this clinic have worked on oral advocacy skills through representation of individual clients in school discipline proceedings, IEP meetings, Medicaid administrative hearings, and post-conviction criminal proceedings, as well as through presentations to the class, teams of attorneys, community members and city council. Students have worked on written advocacy skills through objective and persuasive legal memoranda, federal civil rights complaints, administrative complaints, legal briefs and advocacy materials used locally and in the General Assembly.  
 
Skills Taught
Represent children in negotiations and administrative hearings, court procedure, legal research, policy work
Course Length
Yearlong
Meets
Weekly
Course Credits
8
Application?
Instructors

Academics