The Youth Justice Education Clinic

As the phrase “school to prison pipeline” attests, there is proven causal relationship between unmet special-education needs and court involvement. Many of the Center’s clients are children who are entitled to Regional Center services, social security relief, or Individualized Education Plans that the school system has failed to provide. For this reason, the Center also features a Youth Justice Education Clinic, where law students under the supervision of an education attorney represent these clients in due process hearings, disciplinary hearings, and IEP assessments in order to advocate for their legal entitlements. By addressing the special education needs of these children, the Center increases their chances for a lasting positive outcome. 

YJEC Course Information

The Youth Justice Education Clinic is a year-long, eight-unit course, comprised of a four-unit course and a four-unit clinic.  During each of the Fall and Spring terms, students will earn two units for their participation in the course and two clinical units.  In the Fall, the course will focus on acquiring a knowledge base in California education law and developing lawyering skills.  In the Spring, the course will explore current topics in education law and policy with a particular focus on issues that affect youth involved in the juvenile justice system. 

Because the course is a year long, and the substantive classes are interwoven with casework, students must complete the year to receive credit for the class.  Students must complete 56 hours of work for every clinical unit awarded.  Students should have sufficient flexibility in their schedules to meet the demands of their casework.  This includes some availability during business hours to make and receive phone calls, review and send correspondence, and attend school meetings.

Students will be assigned cases periodically throughout the year.  Cases are referred to the Youth Justice Education Clinic by the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy’s Juvenile Justice Clinic.  The Youth Justice Education Clinic student is responsible for all aspects of the client’s education case including: client interviewing, client counseling, and representation in special education and school disciplinary proceedings.  We also address other needs, including:  access to Regional Center services, discrimination, and access to education for homeless youth.

Because clients are served by both the Youth Justice Education and Juvenile Justice clinics, team work is essential to meeting the holistic needs of the client. Frequent consultation with all members of the client’s advocacy team will be required.  Each student will also be required to meet weekly with Professor Smith to review the student’s work and ensure case development.

Students must have an automobile and/or be able to independently travel for the purposes of meeting with clients, investigating their cases, and attending school discipline or special education proceedings.

All prospective students will be required to submit an application with a resume, and interview with Professor Smith. 

The Clinic is suited for students who demonstrate an interest in youth advocacy, have strong communication skills, and an interest in litigation.  Students must demonstrate a willingness to be flexible, and the maturity to assume responsibility for representing children.  The Clinic meets the pro-bono requirement for law school graduation.