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.
Visit our Programs & Materials page for our latest teleconfencere titled From 17–21: What Lawyers, Judges, and Agencies Should Be Doing for Kids Aging out of Foster Care. The complimentary webinar took place on March 12, 2013 and you can listen to the audio and download materials from the program.
The goal of the project is to work in favor of strong monitoring and enforcement by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Department of Justice of discriminatory practices by school districts that lead to a “school-to-prison” pipeline. The committee hosted a round table discussion focused on the use of the disparate impact analysis in complaints with the OCR. Panelists discuss how the accountability project can strategically use this theory to meet its goals. For more information visit the website and to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Directory of Pro Bono Children's Law Programs
The Children's Rights Litigation Committee's Directory of Pro Bono Children's Law Programs [PDF], in its fourth edition, is a compilation of children's law programs.
Message from the Chairs
On October 23, 2012, the Children's Rights Litigation Committee (CRLC) held a round table discussion [Audio] with leading national experts on "Applying Disparate Impact in Civil Rights Complaints to Derail the School to Prison Pipeline." Panelists discussed the history of how disparate impact, a theory that focuses on disparate outcomes to demonstrate discrimination, has been eviscerated in our courts and administrative agencies, how agencies currently respond to claims of disparate impact, and how to use data to effectively file complaints demonstrating disparate outcomes. The round table was moderated by Judge Brian Huff, of the Jefferson County Family Court, who engaged the panelists in controversial discussions on why filing complaints can empower local communities, how complainants can file against schools that are predominantly populated by students of one race or ethnicity, and what role the outcome of the presidential elections may have on the motivation of the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to use disparate impact as a theory.
The round table was followed by an announcement launching the Educational Civil Rights Accountability Project. The goal of the project is to advocate for strong monitoring and enforcement by the OCR and the Department of Justice of discriminatory practices by school districts that lead to a "school-to-prison pipeline." The CRLC will be convening a working group in the coming weeks to discuss our strategy. If you are interested in participating, please contact email@example.com.
Other projects that the committee is working on include a right-to-counsel project focused on securing a right to counsel for every child in an abuse and neglect case and a partnership with the National Association of Women Lawyers to assist them in launching a national pro bono project focused on providing needed legal services to women and children.
The committee is also focused on updating our Directory of Children's Law Programs. 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.
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:
Dignity in Schools Project
The Education Subcommittee of the Children’s Rights Litigation Committee has formed a work group to explore the widespread and growing problem of “pushout”—the removal of children from school via open and hidden institutional policies.