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The Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy Clinic combines legal theory and interdisciplinary practice, preparing students to advocate across disciplines.

Clinic students meet twice weekly in a 90 minute seminar focused on transferable legal skills including interviewing, counseling, case theory, oral advocacy and trial advocacy. These sessions are supplemented with presentations from experts in mental health and social work focusing on the emerging research on adolescent development and trauma informed holistic legal practice. Students participate in simulations including an initial interview session and best interests trial, which are reviewed in individual supervision sessions providing substantive feedback on practical lawyering skills. Students work on teams with graduate level social work students from Penn’s School of Social Policy and Practice as the front line attorneys and advocates for youth in crisis. Through weekly supervision meetings with the faculty director, students confront the range of lawyering skills in their fieldwork cases in a structured and supportive learning environment.

Several examples:

  • Students represent former foster youth on the verge of homelessness, petitioning the Family Court to allow them to re-enter foster care after the age of 18 and receive supportive case management and social services.
  • The Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy Clinic successfully argued for children who were abused and neglected in their country of origin to remain with caring guardians in Philadelphia, while ensuring that their educational, mental health and health needs are being met.
  • The Clinic engages with national and local partner organizations, including experts from CHOP and the Penn Center on Youth and Family Trauma and Recovery, with the focus on bridging the individual client representation with the broader systemic reform.
  • This Clinic’s work is the subject of regular advocates roundtables, attended by leading lawyers specializing in this work from the area. Program graduates have gone on to fellowships and positions of leadership in this emerging field.  

Registration Information

Child Advocacy Clinic: One semester course offered both Fall and Spring semesters
# of Credits:

6 credits (may drop one credit in exchange for satisfying 35 hours of student’s pro bono requirement).

Pre-requisites: None
Registration Information: Open to JD 3L students and 2nd semester 2L students.

SHAREPOINT LINK:   Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy Clinic SharePoint