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Fall 2023 Clinic

Child Advocacy Clinic

To learn more about the Clinical Curriculum and Registration, please visit our Clinical Registration Center.
You can also find more information on How to Register for Clinics and How Clinical Credits Work.

For more information about this clinic, please visit the Clinic Website, Clinic Q&A and OCP Blog Highlights.

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

Required Class Component: Lawyering for Children & Youth Clinical Seminar (2 fall classroom credits). This clinic and course are bundled; your enrollment in this clinic will automatically enroll you in the required course.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.

By Permission: No.

Add/Drop Deadline: Early drop of August 1, 2023.

LLM Students: International students on F-1 student visas are required to have Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization; LL.M. students are not eligible for CPT.

Placement Site: Various externship placements. Visit the Youth Advocacy & Policy Lab website to see a list of recent placement sites.

The Child Advocacy Clinic is an externship clinic where students are placed in an external legal setting that is focused on one or more aspects of child advocacy to conduct fieldwork under the supervision of a practicing attorney.  Students take a companion seminar and bring into the classroom their experiences and learning from the field.  The course is designed to educate students about a variety of substantive areas impacting the lives of children-such as child welfare, education, and juvenile justice-and the different systems that are meant to serve them.  In addition, the course exposes students to a range of system change strategies to encourage critical thinking about the pros and cons of different approaches. The Clinic is relevant not only for students with a particular interest in children’s issues, but also for those more generally interested in system change.

Enrollment Options: The Child Advocacy Clinic offers three different clinical fieldwork options: a fall-only clinic, a spring-only clinic, and a winter-spring clinic.  The clinical seminar is taken concurrently with the fieldwork.  This offering is for the fall Child Advocacy Clinic. Fall clinical students work part-time (16-20 hours/week for 4-5 clinical credits) at a child advocacy organization.

Fieldwork Component: Students are placed as externs, working under a supervising attorney, in a wide array of fieldwork settings that focus on child welfare, education, and the juvenile legal system. Clinical fieldwork may implicate more discrete issues, such as older youth transitioning out of the foster care system, sexual exploitation of children, LGBTQ youth, special education and school discipline, and eliminating racial disparities in various systems.  Placements range from organizations providing individual advocacy, to those promoting systemic change through impact litigation, legislative reform, or policy.

Based on their host placement, students may: engage in courtroom advocacy; participate in school and home visits; assist with interviews of child victims; analyze social science and psychological research; leverage the media and write op-ed articles; prepare for city council or legislative hearings; provide trainings to various stakeholders; develop legislative reform proposals; and participate in mediations. For instance:

  • In the child welfare area, students may represent individual children who are abused and neglected; serve alongside District Attorneys prosecuting caretakers accused of child maltreatment; or work with juvenile court judges adjudicating care and protection and other child welfare cases.
  • In the education area, students may engage in efforts to advance educational outcomes for low-income students; participate in special education cases; or work with the state agency charged with overseeing schools on issues such as charter schools, assessment and accountability, student rights, and school discipline.
  • In the juvenile legal system area, students may support legislative changes to improve conditions of confinement for young people; promote policies to reform the legal system for youth of color; or work alongside public defenders in delinquency and youthful offender cases.

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, the Youth Advocacy and Policy Lab (Y-Lab) will provide students with a list of fieldwork placement organizations and their potential projects. Students will give Y-Lab information about their background and interests and rank their placement preferences. Y-Lab will then match students with a placement based on their preferences, the organizations’ needs, and Y-Lab’s goal to provide students with a broad spectrum of experiences. Please note that the matching process takes place during the summer; enrolled students will need to be available to communicate with Y-Lab and their host organization about various details.  Visit the Child Advocacy Clinic webpage for a list of organizations where clinic students have been placed in prior years.

This course is part of the Youth Advocacy & Policy Lab (Y-Lab). Please see the Y-Lab website for information about other related courses.