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Children's Rights Litigation Committee



The Children’s Rights Litigation Committee is one of the more than 40 practice groups open to all members of the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation. Joining the committee entitles a member to a number of benefits (see list below). The committee’s leadership is made up of experienced litigators from all over the country working to improve access to justice, engage pro bono lawyers, and improve outcomes for all children who come into contact with the legal system. As it works toward that vision, the committee exercises the unique ability to help local groups who are interested in starting or improving children’s legal programs.

In order to accomplish the goals of improving the quality of the legal representation of children and providing members with opportunities to learn and to lead, the committee provides its members with these benefits:

  • Children’s Rights, a quarterly publication
  • Online access to case notes and alerts on news and developments of interest to the children’s law community
  • Opportunities for leadership in the development of children’s legal policy initiatives
  • Training that includes a spring teleconference, online programs, and training DVDs (for example, the award-winning Interviewing the Child Client)
  • Opportunities to write for committee publications and participate in one or more active subcommittees

Whether you want to receive Children’s Rights, learn from and network with children’s lawyers from around the country, contribute to our programs and publications, or all of the above, join us. Section of Litigation members may join as many committees as they like at no charge.

To join, you must first be a member of the ABA and also a member of the ABA Section of Litigation.


Educational Civil Rights Accountability Project

The Accountability Project is a project of the Education subcommittee of the Children’s Rights Litigation Committee. The project maintains a website with resources on the school-to-prison pipeline. The project has also released a memo, Disparate Impact under Title VI and the School to Prison Pipeline. If you would like to be added to the email list of this subcommittee, please email Cathy Krebs.


International Summit on the Legal Needs of Street Youth

The International Summit on the Legal Needs of Street Youth convened on June 16–17, 2015, in London, England, to formulate an ambitious global advocacy and reform agenda to promote better outcomes for street-involved youth. The Summit—which was organized by the American Bar Association’s (ABA’s) Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, the Children’s Rights Litigation Committee of the ABA’s Section of Litigation, and the global law firm of Baker & McKenzie, along with many co-sponsors from around the world—drew more than 150 experts, including youth, from nearly 40 countries who serve children in more than 100 nations. Read more.

Juvenile Records Model Act

On August 3, 2015, the ABA House of Delegates adopted the Children's Rights Litigation Committee’s Resolution 103A to the House of Delegates during the 2015 ABA Annual Meeting this August. Resolution 103A would resolve that the American Bar Association adopts the Model Act Governing the Confidentiality and Expungement of Juvenile Delinquency Records. For a copy of the Model Act, contact the CRLC Committee Director Cathy Krebs.

ABA Directory of Children's Law Programs

The committee maintains an ABA Directory of Children's Law Programs which is a state by state listing of children’s law centers, clinics and resources centers around the country. Please contact Committee Director Cathy Krebs if you have any updates or changes for the Directory.

Right to Counsel for Children

The CRLC would welcome your participation in the committee's efforts to secure a right to counsel for children in all child welfare cases.

Civil Right to Counsel Video

Learn more about the latest developments on the civil right to counsel movement and how you can get involved. Watch now.

Resources for Young Lawyers Added to Related Resources Page

We recently updated our Related Resources page with useful resources for young attorneys interested in child welfare, juvenile justice, education, and immigration. We will continue to update this new resource section and welcome any recommendations from our fellow members.

Message from the Chairs

Thank you for visiting the Children’s Rights Litigation Committee website. The website aims to house many free resources to assist you in your legal representation of children, whether you provide that representation full time or on a pro bono basis.

The Programs & Materials page is a great place to find free trainings on topics ranging from education to immigration to juvenile justice to child welfare. The site is regularly updated with new programs so be sure to bookmark it and visit it often. The Multimedia page is where you will find videos and podcasts. We are sponsoring a series Starting and Building a Children’s Legal Practice, which is interviews with the children’s law leaders who assisted in forming the field of children’s law. It is a great combination of practical tips as well as a history of the children’s legal field. The Articles page contains fascinating articles on a variety of different topics ranging from practical tips, to overviews of new laws, to descriptions of innovative programs as well as hot topics in children’s law.

The committee also maintains a Directory of Children's Law Programs, a national state-by-state listing of children’s law centers, clinics and resource centers. If you know of a program that is not currently listed or needs to be updated, please contact our committee director, Catherine Krebs. Also, be sure to "like" us on Facebook. Our Facebook page is updated daily and includes the latest information about the legal needs of children across the country.

The hope is that these materials will support the legal community as we aim to elevate and improve the legal representation of children so please do take advantage of these resources and share them with your colleagues.

If you have ideas for programs or articles, please contact us. We would love to hear from you.


Ira Lustbader
Marlene Sallo
Brent Pattison  

Cochairs, Children's Rights Litigation Committee


» ABA Online Directory

Our active subcommittees include:

Law Firm Lawyers for Kids—This subcommittee provides opportunities for lawyers in law firms interested in representing children on a pro bono basis anywhere in the country. The cases that lawyers in law firms handle include a variety of matters ranging from abuse and neglect proceedings to truancy and special needs access. The subcommittee also provides resources and training to its members.

Knowledge Sharing—The Knowledge Sharing subcommittee provides the opportunity to assist in the development and dissemination of written content that highlights important developments in the law, practice, and sociology of representing children in our judicial system. Our content is distributed via the Committee webpage, our quarterly newsletter, and other publications that we solicit for publication. This group has bimonthly phone calls to discuss topics, expert resources, and placement opportunities.

Learning and Professional Development—The Learning and Professional Development subcommittee provides its members with the opportunity to assist in the development of all of our training and professional development programs. Programs are created to provide information on the relevant updates in the law and the latest tools for lawyers representing children. Forums include our annual spring teleconference and programs at conferences, such as the Section of Litigation Annual Conference and the National Association of Counsel for Children Annual Conference. Subcommittee members participate in promoting our programs and in developing regional programs and training.

Advocacy: Right to Education—The Advocacy: Right to Education subcommittee provides a forum for lawyers working on the critical issues that impact the right to education for so many of our youth. Issues have included the school-to-prison pipeline, school push-out/zero tolerance, and other critical issues. Participation in this subcommittee provides the opportunity to work on important national initiatives, including the development of a model school code.

Advocacy: Right to Counsel—We have made great strides toward realizing a national right to quality legal counsel for all children who enter our judicial system, but there is much more to be accomplished. The Advocacy: Right to Counsel subcommittee brings lawyers together from across the country to continue this important work. The subcommittee’s current focus is the institution of a right to counsel for children in abuse and neglect cases. This subcommittee holds monthly strategy calls and has an active list serve for sharing developments and ideas in this rapidly developing area of law.

To join a subcommittee or to suggest a new subcommittee, please click here.


Find contact information for committee and subcommittee chairs:


Children's Rights Litigation Leadership


Committee Cochairs

Committee Director/
Newsletter Editor


Web Editors

Ira Lustbader

New York, NY

Marlene Sallo

Washington, D.C.

Brent Pattison

Des Moines, IA

Catherine Krebs

Washington, D.C.


Marlene Sallo

Washington, D.C.

Jen Baum

New York, NY