The Youth Justice Education Clinic, home to the Everychild Integrated Education & Legal Advocacy Project

The Center for Juvenile Law & Policy (CJLP) at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles was recently awarded a $1 million competitive grant by the Everychild Foundation to develop an innovative program that will train law students in best practices to represent foster youth involved in educational and juvenile justice proceedings. 

The unique program, the Everychild Integrated Education & Legal Advocacy Project (EIELAP), will over three years train 36 law students through the Youth Justice Education Clinic to assist 300 Los Angeles youth. Loyola law students work as part of a collaborative team that includes education advocates, criminal-defense representatives and social workers. “Foster youth already have the deck stacked against them when it comes to the criminal justice system,” said Loyola Professor Sean Kennedy, Kaplan & Feldman Executive Director of the CJLP and former Federal Public Defender, Central District of California. “With the Everychild Foundation’s significant help, we have the power to fulfill a critical unmet need: the holistic representation of foster youth who have been charged with crimes. Together, we have the opportunity to secure justice for kids who have traditionally lacked the means to obtain it.” 

Avoiding the “school to prison pipeline” requires acknowledging and addressing the causal relationship between unmet special-education needs and court involvement. Many of the YJEC 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 appropriately or not at all. Through YJEC, law students under the supervision of an education attorney represent these clients in due process hearings, disciplinary hearings, and IEP meetings 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 students also work on school discipline and regional center issues for clients.

YJEC Course Information

YJEC 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 special 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 YJEC by the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy’s Juvenile Justice Clinic and other community advocates. The YJEC 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 frequently attend court hearings to provide updates on the progress of our advocacy to the delinquency or dependency judges. 

Because clients are served by both YJEC and JJC, 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 Stanton-Trhean 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 Stanton-Trehan. 

YJEC 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. YJEC meets the pro-bono requirement for law school graduation.

 

Application Information

Students interested in applying to the Youth Justice Education Clinic should visit here for detailed application instructions. Prospective students will be required to submit an application including a resumé and transcript.  Applicants will then interview with Professor Stanton-Trehan, Director of YJEC. Interviews will be required.