The Holistic Youth Defense Clinic provides students an opportunity to practice holistic and zealous lawyering by representing youth clients on delinquency matters, as well as related school discipline and special education matters, in order to help keep youth in their homes, schools and communities with appropriate supports.

Students will represent indigent youth clients in misdemeanor and felony delinquency cases, special education matters and school discipline hearings under close faculty supervision. Typical delinquency charges include assault and battery, petit and grand larceny, as well as various types of offenses referred to court from schools. Enrolled clinic students will hone their practical skills while integrating their knowledge of substantive law. Students will engage in discovery practice, interview clients and witnesses, brainstorm case strategy, conduct legal research and fact investigation, draft pleadings and work product, prepare clients and witnesses for trial, negotiate with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, discuss plea offers with clients, and counsel clients. Students with third-year practice certificates will represent clients at hearings and trials. In addition, clinic students will critically examine the purpose, motives, outcomes, and shortcomings of the juvenile legal system. They will analyze broader systemic issues, examine how legal systems impact the clients they serve and reflect upon opportunities for reform. Students will learn to provide holistic client-centered and client-driven representation. 

To be considered for this clinic, students must both rank the clinic in the clinic lottery and submit application materials within the timeline set by the Student Records Office. Students selected for the clinic through the clinic application/lottery process will be automatically enrolled prior to the regular course lottery.

The positions that the clinic takes on behalf of its clients are independent of the views of the University of Virginia or the School of Law.

Crystal Shin
Professor of Law, General Faculty
Director, Holistic Youth Defense Clinic
Skills Taught
Client/witness interviewing, fact investigation, legal research and analysis, case planning, oral and written advocacy, plea negotiation, client counseling, trial prep, and developing strong client relationships and professionalism skills
Course Credits