Adolescent Brain CLE 2014

ABA Annual Meeting CLE Program:

The Adolescent Brain: What Lawyers and Parents Must Know

Presented by the ABA Commission on Youth at Risk

Sunday, August 10, 2014, 10:30 am – 12 pm

Hynes Convention Center, Boston, MA

  • What is reasonable juvenile behavior under the law?

  • What does research tell us about teens’ brains and how it influences their behavior?

  • How is a young person affected long term when the legal system harshly treats and places stigmatizing labels on him or her?

  • How do we ensure the legal system does not further traumatize or inappropriately punish juveniles who enter the courts?

We know teens’ brains are still maturing well into their 20s. This affects their judgment, impulsivity, foresight and other characteristics that affect their moral and legal culpability. Lawyers representing juveniles must know the medical and psychological research on adolescent brain development and how this is reshaping legal and systemic responses to them.

The law is changing in response to research. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Miller and Graham, cited adolescent brain development research to hold that states could not impose mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles. Legislatures and youth-serving systems are also reexamining responses to juvenile behavior considered offensive, disruptive, or criminal.

This CLE program will explore the latest research and legal developments and share best practices for frontline legal practitioners.


  • The Hon. Jay Blitzman, Massachusetts Juvenile Court, Middlesex Division
  • The Hon. Roderick Ireland, Chief Justice, Massachusetts Supreme Court
  • David Fassler, M.D., Child Psychiatrist, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
  • Adriana Galvan, Ph.D., Adolescent Psychologist, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
  • Marsha Levick, J.D., Juvenile Law Center, Philadelphia, PA
  • Xavier McElrath-Bey, Youth Justice Advocate, Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth