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Children's Law Clinics

Rutgers School of Law-Camden

217 N. Fifth St.
Camden, NJ 08102-1203
Telephone: (856) 225-6568
Fax: (856) 225-6666

Does Use Volunteer Attorneys

Students in the Child and Family Advocacy Clinic represent children in child abuse and neglect cases in Family Court in Camden. Clients are referred from South Jersey Legal Services. Students may also represent children in administrative hearings and proceedings regarding public benefits, education, immigration, medical and mental health issues. Students work with a partner and in some cases will collaborate with social workers to undertake all steps necessary to prepare for court hearings. The Clinic has been in existence since 2009, and approximately 20 students participate each year.

The Children's Justice Clinic is a holistic lawyering program using multiple strategies and interdisciplinary approaches to resolve problems for Camden youth facing juvenile delinquency charges. Students primarily provide legal representation in juvenile court hearings. Approximately 36 students participate in the Clinic each year. Students work in trial teams and have the opportunity to handle two of their own trials in delinquency court. In addition to providing legal services related to that forum, students work with their clients to address the causes of delinquency problems in their home environment.

Third-year students in the Rutgers Civil Practice Clinic can also participate in the Rutgers/LEAP Legal Project, a partnership between the Clinic and the LEAP Academy University Charter School (LEAP Academy), began in 1998. The Project provides legal advice, representation and community education to the parents of LEAP Academy students. LEAP Academy is a full-service year round school in Camden that provides legal assistance, health care and a full range of social services to LEAP families and children. 8 to12 law students participate in the Legal Project and conduct weekly intake sessions for parents at the LEAP Academy. Legal advice and representation is provided to parents in several different areas of law; children are not represented.

Providing effective representation and appropriate referrals is also made possible with the assistance of the LEAP Pro Bono Panel. The panel is made up of attorneys from the Camden County Bar Association who support the project by providing expertise and/or training in a substantive area, help in the community education workshops or by taking on pro bono representation.

Children's Law Clinics

Rutgers School of Law-Newark

123 Washington St.
Newark, NJ 07102
Telephone: (973) 353-5576
Fax: (973) 353-3397

Students in the Child Advocacy Clinic represent children and/or families in court hearings and trials, in administrative hearings, and in mediation conferences. Students also do advocacy work in order to obtain or maintain Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for children, secure needed therapeutic and medical interventions for children, and assist kinship caregivers in meeting the legal financial, and educational needs of the children in their care. In addition, the CAC is the law guardian (attorney) for several abused and neglected children who are residing in foster care, many of whom are children with disabilities.

The Special Education Clinic represents parents and caregivers seeking to obtain appropriate early intervention and educational services and placements for children with disabilities. The Clinic also educates parents and others involved in the lives of children with disabilities about their legal rights and responsibilities. Clinic students help prepare instructional materials and conduct workshops for family court judges, kinship caregivers, probation officers, law guardians, and child welfare workers, as well as parents. The clinic also provides training to the bar in an effort to increase the number of lawyers who represent indigent parents and caregivers of children with disabilities.

Children's Legal Resource Center

Association for Children of New Jersey

35 Halsey St.
Newark, NJ 07102
Telephone: (973) 643-3876
Fax: (973) 643-9153

Does Use Volunteer Attorneys

The Children's Legal Resource Center is a service of the Association For Children of New Jersey (ACNJ). ACNJ is a statewide child advocacy organization whose goal is to bring about positive changes for children through a variety of advocacy strategies. The Children's Legal Resource Center acts as a clearinghouse of information by answering telephone inquiries and publishing and distributing manuals and fact sheets on the status of New Jersey law affecting children. These services are available to lawyers and interested individuals and cover a comprehensive list of children's law issues. Written materials are available in the areas of abuse and neglect, family law custody disputes, guardianships, and law guardians. A manual regarding the handling of child abuse and neglect cases, Pro Bono Attorney's Manual (1998); a book covering the general rights of children in New Jersey entitled You Have The Right (1990); and a 1992 manual covering foster care are available upon request.

The Center does not offer direct representation of children, but does recruit and train pro bono lawyers who are then assigned cases in two areas of law: termination of parental rights cases and children's SSI appeals. These training programs are co-sponsored by the New Jersey State Bar Association. Volunteer attorneys are recruited through advertisements in legal publications and bar association mailings. In exchange for taking one pro bono case, attorneys are provided comprehensive training and a manual, free of charge. The Center does use volunteers for projects other than litigation.

Education Law Center, Inc.

60 Park Place, Ste. 300
Newark, NJ 07102
Telephone: (973) 624-1815
Fax: (973) 624-7339
Email: [email protected]

100% Education Law
Does Use Volunteer Attorneys

Education Law Center, Inc. (ELC) is a not-for-profit, public-interest law firm specializing in reform of the public elementary and secondary school systems in New Jersey. Founded in 1973, ELC provides free legal assistance to parents, students, their organizations, and concerned individuals who encounter individual or system problems in public school education. ELC also maintains a community education program to inform individuals of educational rights, monitors the impact of federal and state judicial decisions, legislation, and regulatory activity on public education, and is involved in drafting and commenting on legislation and administrative regulations that concern education. ELC is staffed by three attorneys who work with volunteer lawyers to handle approximately 1,000 cases each year. In addition to the three attorneys, the Center has a director of school reform initiatives, a director of research, a community liaison, and an intake coordinator/office manager.

Clients are referred from juvenile court, social service agencies, schools, health care professionals, other attorneys in the community. Volunteers are recruited through the local bar association, local law schools and through legal service agencies. Training is offered to volunteers on an as-needed basis. Staff members are teamed with volunteer attorneys who, along with handling cases, also assist in writing and updating publications. In addition to the written materials listed above, ELC also has materials pertaining to HIV positive children.

ELC brings extensive impact litigation. Abbott v. Burke, a class action in behalf of poor and minority children residing in poor urban districts, resulted in a 1990 landmark decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court declaring school funding for poor urban schools unconstitutional and requiring the State to assure more funding for poor children than for wealthier children because poor children have greater education needs.

Juvenile Justice Clinic

Seton Hall University School of Law

1 Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102
Telephone: (973) 642-8297 / (973) 642-8784
Fax: (973) 642-5939 / (973) 642-8295

Does Not Use Volunteer Attorneys

The Juvenile Justice Clinic began in 1973 as a joint effort of the law school and the Public Defender's Office. The Juvenile Justice Clinic represents indigent juvenile defendants in all facets of juvenile proceedings in the Essex County Family Court.

Office of Law Guardian

Office of the Public Defender

Mountain View Office Park
840 Bear Tavern Rd., Ste. 200
Ewing, NJ 08628
Telephone: (609) 530-3623
Fax: (609) 530-7880

The Office of Law Guardian (OLG), a unit within the Office of the Public Defender, provides legal representation to children in family court matters involving allegations of abuse and neglect against parents or other caregivers, or in cases involving termination of parental rights. New Jersey law guarantees children the right to an attorney (a law guardian) to represent the child in court, present the child's wishes to the judge and protect the child's legal interests throughout the legal proceeding. A law guardian maintains a traditional lawyer-client relationship with the child to the extent possible.

The law guardian helps the child-client understand the child's legal rights and the court process and keeps the child informed as the case progresses through the child welfare system. The law guardian will counsel the child and give legal advice about the most realistic course of action to protect the child's safety and to advance the child's wishes and interests. The special training and expertise of law guardians help the child participate fully in court hearings.

Each law guardian works as a part of a team of professionals on behalf of the children OLG represents. This team includes specially trained investigators and clerical staff. Investigators take an active role in meeting the child to discover the relevant facts of the case necessary to developing a position on behalf of the child-client.

OLG has a separate appellate unit (OLGA) responsible for handling appellate matters. Currently, OLGA has seven appellate attorneys representing the interests and wishes of minor clients before both the Appellate Division and the New Jersey Supreme Court. The OLG also undertakes DYFS conflict investigations when allegations of abuse are made against DYFS staff or members of their families. The "Conflict Unit" within OLG is comprised of a team of highly skilled investigators who work exclusively on conducting investigations of such allegations.

Youth Advocacy Center

Covenant House New Jersey

330 Washington St.
Newark, NJ 07102
Telephone: (973) 621-8705
Fax: (973) 621-7658
Email: [email protected]

75% Children's Law

Covenant House New Jersey is the largest provider of services to homeless and at-risk adolescents between the ages of 16 and 21 and provides not just shelter but a comprehensive array of supportive services that help young people to not only stabilize their crises, but also to transition to a stable living environment, where they can continue to progress in their life goals. The Youth Advocacy Center at Covenant House New Jersey offers direct legal services to the clients of Covenant House and engages in policy initiatives to best serve homeless and runaway youth.

The attorneys at the Youth Advocacy Center primarily provide direct representation in civil matters including: custody and child support, public benefits, housing, and foster care cases. Many of the clients at Covenant House have criminal legal issues as well and the legal staff helps these clients to understand the criminal process and to better communicate with their court appointed public defender. The direct services aspect of the Center began in the fall of 1998.

The Center's second major area of work revolves around advocacy efforts to shape public policy in a way that is beneficial to the clients served by Covenant House. Those efforts include lobbying Congress around juvenile justice issues and drafting, proposing, and generating support for a state Homeless Youth Act to give minors the right to seek crisis shelter without the permission of a parent or guardian. The staff at the Center strongly believes that the provision of direct service and interaction with their clients should inform and shape the policy work of the Center.