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FAMILY LAW: The Legal-Interest Model for Preverbal Child Clients

By Lisa Kelly and Alicia LeVezu

When the state intervenes in a child’s life through a child abuse and neglect case, a court proceeding is initiated and a plethora of legal rights attach. Children in these situations need trained legal representatives to protect these rights. In many states, these attorneys are expected to advocate for what they believe to be in the child’s best interests. This article explores the concept of legal-interest advocacy as an alternative to best-interest representation for nonverbal clients, and it outlines how legal-interest advocacy can address the major criticisms of best-interest representation while ensuring that children’s legal rights are protected.

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