Juvenile justice and child advocacy expert Andrew Block, who helped transform the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice as its director over the last five years, has rejoined the faculty of the University of Virginia School of Law.

He will teach Children and the Law in the spring and launch a new State and Local Government Policy Clinic in the 2020-21 academic year.

“Andy is bringing back a wealth of experiences to share with our students, and we’re excited to have him back,” Dean Risa Goluboff said. “His new clinic will offer exciting ways for students to put their legal educations into practice, provide needed resources for the development of law and policy, and serve the public.”

Block last served on the Law School faculty from 2010-14, when he directed the Child Advocacy Clinic. Before joining UVA, he founded and was the legal director of the JustChildren program of the Legal Aid Justice Center.

He left the Law School to lead the Department of Juvenile Justice, and instituted major reforms, including reducing the number of youth in state facilities by almost two-thirds, closing two state correctional facilities, and securing legislative support to reinvest the savings from those closures into a statewide network of community-based services and supports for youth and their families.  

“We were able to really transform a lot of the work of the agency,” Block said. “We implemented evidence-based practices and treatment programs across Virginia, and hit all-time lows for numbers of new cases coming into the system, numbers of youth on probation and the numbers of youth in locked facilities.”

Block added, “Our clients in the Child Advocacy Clinic, many of whom were in the custody of the department, certainly informed the way that I thought about my work as the director of the Department of Juvenile Justice.”

Now he wants to bring that same synergy back to the Law School to benefit students in the courses he will teach.

Block said the new clinic will give students interested in government work an opportunity to help legislators and other state and local officials craft policy.

“Policymakers in Virginia, whether they are on a state or local level, never have enough time to tackle all of the issues they want to address,” Block said. “Hopefully the new clinic can help address that problem by providing additional research and analytic support for our government officials.

“For students interested in government work, my goal is for the clinic to provide them with a chance to learn about policymaking in a direct and hands-on way, while also having a positive impact on life in the commonwealth,” Block said. “I am also hopeful that participating in the clinic will give students a better understanding of the vital and compelling work of both state and local governments.”

Block is a graduate of Yale University and Northwestern Law School. He has also worked as a staff attorney for the Seattle-King County Public Defenders and as a staff attorney for TeamChild, a legal aid program dedicated to juvenile justice issues.  

“I’m excited to be back,” Block said. “I’m grateful that the dean has started this new clinic and is giving me the opportunity to stand it up and help it succeed. I really expect it to be a win-win for policymakers as well as our students.”

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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