Children's Rights Clinic

LW.10422 / LW.10996
Professor Tamara Steckler
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 10 students
Not offered 2015-16
5 credits*
No prerequisites or co-requisites.


The Children’s Rights Clinic will be offered to up to 10 students each semester as a semester-long, 5-credit course. The clinic involves the representation of children in a variety of civil legal settings. The seminar focuses on the issues in representing children particularly in child welfare proceedings.

Course Description


Students in the clinic will have the opportunity to work in a legal setting providing representation to young people. For example, fieldwork sites that have been used in prior years are:

The Door Legal Services Center – The Door is a multi-service program for youth, which provides young people aged 12 to 21 with a full array of services including health care, educational services (including GED, ESL, computer classes, and tutoring), job training and placement. At the Legal Service Center, students will work with the Door’s attorneys on housing and benefits or immigration related legal issues as well as other matters and may engage in legal rights trainings for youth.

The Juvenile Rights Practice of the New York Legal Aid Society (“JRP”) – JRP is the primary provider of child representation in child protection, juvenile delinquency, and PINS (Persons in Need of Supervision) proceedings in the New York City Family Courts. Students at this site will work with attorneys in the Manhattan and Brooklyn trial offices on all aspects of child neglect and abuse cases representing both adolescents and younger children. Students will participate in client interviewing and counseling, case investigation and planning, and will have the opportunity to make court appearances on behalf of their clients under attorney supervision.

Advocates for Children (AFC) - AFC is a non-profit organization that has provided information, advice, and advocacy on education issues to families of children with special needs in New York City. AFC works to ensure equal educational access through a combination of strategies including direct service, impact litigation, policy reform work, and parent training. Students assigned to AFC will work closely with parents and their children throughout all stages of representation from intake through investigation to preparation and execution of administrative hearings regarding the provision of special education. Foster Care project attorneys provide advice, assistance and advocacy to caseworkers, parents and children off-site at foster care agencies.

In each of these fieldwork sites, students will have the opportunity to develop the skills involved in identifying and pursuing solutions for child clients who need assistance for a specific legal problem but who typically have a wide range of other legal and non-legal problems that urgently require attention and that may or may not be related to the legal issue that brought the young person to the lawyer.


The fieldwork will be complemented with a weekly 2-hour seminar that uses class discussion and simulation exercises centered around the various issues involved in representing young people. The seminar will examine the role of a lawyer for child clients (including issues of professional responsibility) and the various models of representation provided by the fieldwork sites. The seminar will focus in particular on issues in representing children in child welfare proceedings. The simulations will teach lawyering skills in the context of a child protective case with a particular focus on client interviewing and counseling. The seminar will also provide an opportunity to examine broad, systemic issues in the Family Court system, including the treatment of youth and families based on race, class, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Application Procedure

Students should fill out and submit the standard application, resume and unofficial transcript using CAMS, the online application system. There will be no interview. If you have questions regarding the application procedure, please contact Ray Ivey. Students should feel free to contact the professor Tamara Steckler via e-mail with any additional questions about the clinic.

Student Contacts

Students who are interested in learning more about the course may wish to speak with the following students who were in the clinic during the 2011-12 school year:

Fall 2013 Spring 2014
Lewie Briggs
Micah Doak
Samantha Gardner
Joseph Gracely
Ryan Harris
Peter Robau
Jennifer Slocum
Mary Gabrielle Apollon-Richardson
Caitlin Flood
Sybren Hoekstra
Joanna Laine
Elizabeth Polido
Lisa Sangoi
Christina Skaliks
Lauren West

* 5 credits include 3 clinical credits and 2 academic seminar credits.