Child Advocacy Clinic

Child Advocacy Clinic

Professor Elizabeth Bartholet
Winter 2017 - Spring 2017 clinic
7 clinical credits

Enrollment in this clinic will fulfill the HLS JD pro bono requirement.

Required Class Component: Child Advocacy Clinical Seminar (2 spring classroom credits). Students who enroll in this clinic will be enrolled in the required course by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.

By Permission: No.

Add/Drop Deadline: Please note this clinic has an early drop deadline of October 31, 2016.

LLM Students: LLM students are not eligible to apply.

Multi-Semester: This is a winter-spring clinic (2 winter clinical credits + 4-5 spring clinical credits).

Placement Site: Various externship placements. Click here for a master list of placement sites since CAP's inception.

The Child Advocacy Program (CAP) Clinic is designed to educate students about a range of social change strategies and to encourage critical thinking about the pros and cons of different approaches. The CAP Clinic includes both a classroom seminar and clinical fieldwork component. A variety of substantive areas impacting the lives of children are addressed with a focus on child welfare (abuse and neglect, foster care, and adoption), education, and juvenile justice. The Clinic is relevant for students not only with a particular interest in children's issues, but also for those more generally interested in social change.

Enrollment Options: The Child Advocacy Clinic offers two different clinical fieldwork options: a spring-only clinic and a winter-spring clinic. This offering is for the winter-spring Child Advocacy Clinic. Students engage in full-time work in the winter and part-time work (16-20 hours/week for 4-5 clinical credits) in the spring. Enrollment is capped at 8 students.

Fieldwork Component: The winter-spring Clinic places students with model organizations around the country and occasionally around the world. Students work full-time in a distant placement for the winter term and then return to Cambridge in the spring, working part-time and remotely for the same organization.

Students work in a wide array of fieldwork settings, ranging from organizations that promote systemic change through impact litigation, to those working on legislative reform, to grassroots organizing initiatives, to social enterprises. Some students will work for reform from within the system and others from outside. Typically, winter-spring students will not engage in individual legal representation.

Based on their particular placements, students may: draft memoranda and briefs for litigation; develop legislative reform proposals; analyze social science and psychological research; leverage the media; engage in written work for a variety of types of publications (legal journals, popular press, guides for practitioners, content for websites); provide strategic advice to start-ups; or create, conduct, and analyze interviews. For instance:

  • In the child welfare area, students may work with a leading boutique impact litigation firm challenging states treatment of youth in foster care, with a new social venture to engage the media to promote the interests of foster care youth, or with a model problem solving court for drug addicted parents.
  • In the education area, students may work alongside lawyers and community organizers to advocate for new school financing laws, engage in efforts to ensure incarcerated youth receive high-quality schooling, or advise schools and communities on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline.
  • In the juvenile justice area, students may develop trainings on best practices for staff at juvenile incarceration facilities, or fight for improved conditions of confinement for juveniles.

Note that many placements cut across substantive areas and engage students in a host of advocacy strategies and skills.

Matching Process: Once enrolled in the Clinic, CAP will provide students with a list of fieldwork placement organizations and their potential projects. Students will give CAP information about their background and interests and rank their placement preferences. CAP will then match students with a placement based on their preferences, the organizations' needs, and CAP's mission to provide students with a broad spectrum of experiences. Visit the CAP Clinic webpage for a list of organizations where clinic students have been placed in prior years.

Subject Areas: Procedure & Practice, Family, Gender & Children's Law