Class of 2010 Student Recognized for Outstanding Clinical Work
June 16, 2010
After Rachel Stanton L’10 obtained a favorable outcome for her client – a young, deaf man with a difficult home life whom Stanton represented as a dependency child advocate – the public defender assigned to represent the man in a delinquency proceeding praised Stanton’s work as among the best she had ever seen.
It was Stanton’s representation of the young man, which she undertook as part of the University of Pennsylvania Law School's Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy Clinic, that Professors Alan Lerner and Louis Rulli cited first in nominating Stanton, on behalf of the entire clinical faculty, for the Clinical Legal Education Association’s (CLEA) Outstanding Student Award. Stanton is the 2010 recipient of the award, and was recently recognized at a ceremony in Penn Law’s Gittis Center for Clinical Legal Studies.
Stanton had been appointed as the young man’s dependency child advocate after a Delinquency Court judge, hearing charges that the young man had been involved in an altercation on a school bus, ordered the Department of Human Services to file a dependency case based on the judge’s concern that issues from the young man's home life were at the root of the incident. As the dependency child advocate, Stanton faced a difficult set of facts: the young man’s mother did not want him back in the house, DHS wanted to send him to a placement to which he did not want to go, and the boy’s hearing impairment made other placement opportunities virtually non-existent.
Together with the public defender, Stanton represented the young man at his delinquency hearing, arguing for the case to remain in the dependency system so there would be no adjudication of delinquency, and for additional services in his home. She also obtained a court order for the court to provide interpreters for her to speak with her client in private. She argued persuasively when the court was about to place the young man in a temporary shelter, pointing out that he would need to go to a place with American Sign Language Certified interpreters, or be totally cut off from all outside communications. The argument changed the judge’s mind, and he ordered the young man to remain home. The judge called Stanton up to side bar and commended her for raising an important issue that he had not seen. At the follow up to the delinquency hearing, the judge made a point of saying that the first person he wanted to hear from was the dependency child advocate: Rachel Stanton.
As a result of Stanton’s work on the case, there was no adjudication of delinquency; the young man is home, and his family is in therapy and doing much better.
In his letter nominating Stanton for the CLEA award, Professor Rulli said the case is “but a small example of the outstanding work and dedication that Rachel brought everyday to her clinical work.” As a 2L, for example, Stanton was enrolled in Penn Law's Civil Practice Clinic, where her work for indigent clients included obtaining social security disability benefits for a young child, amicably resolving an overpayment case through negotiation, and successfully assisting a victim of identity theft. Stanton also completed an independent study with the Juvenile Law Center of Philadelphia. Next year, she will work in the Queens office of the New York Legal Aid Society as a child advocate.
“[I]t has been a special privilege to work with Rachel and to watch the dedication and skill that she brings to her clinical work,” Rulli wrote in nominating Stanton for the CLEA award. “She has been a very positive influence on other students throughout the Clinic and she has had an enormously positive impact on our clients.”