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Empowering Child and Youth Clients: Advocating for Joy in the Legal System

Alexandria Ware

Empowering Child and Youth Clients: Advocating for Joy in the Legal System
Photo by cottonbro

As lawyers, it is our duty to support and advocate for our child and youth clients. We must prioritize their wellbeing, healing, and joy to make a difference, especially since our legal systems may not inherently value these aspects. Here are practical tips to help our clients reclaim their joy.

Create Belonging

Advocate for an environment where your young clients feel a sense of belonging within their family, community, or other support network. Emphasize the importance of inclusive and nurturing relationships.

Build Relationship

Foster strong relationships with your clients and their families, establishing trust and open communication. Connect with community resources to broaden your support network for young people.

Engage Creativity

Utilize creative approaches to ensure your young clients feel a sense of belonging and engage in positive activities. Tailor solutions to their unique needs and circumstances.

Push for Restorative Justice and Accountability

Advocate for restorative justice practices focusing on healing and accountability rather than punitive measures. Encourage mechanisms that allow repair and growth for young people. Push for accountability measures that prioritize the healing and wellbeing of your clients rather than focusing solely on punishment. Strive for resolutions that facilitate growth and positive change.

Build Restorative Circles

Promote restorative circles involving families and communities to prevent the necessity of foster care and encourage healing in a supportive environment. For more information about restorative circles see:

Actively Listen

Truely listen to your clients and seek to understand their perspectives, needs, and desires. Encourage them to share their experiences and emotions in a safe and supportive space.

Identify Healing Needs

Ask your clients about their specific healing needs and what brings them joy. Tailor your legal approach to accommodate and address these needs effectively.

Make Opportunities

Advocate for and create opportunities that align with your client's aspirations and needs. Be proactive in finding or creating avenues for growth, education, and personal development.

Fearlessly Advocate

Advocate fearlessly for your clients, considering unconventional solutions that align with their needs, goals, and wellbeing. Be open to exploring all possibilities that may benefit them.

Effectively Frame

Present your client's needs in a way that resonates with the legal system and other stakeholders, emphasizing healing and joy as fundamental human rights.

Centralize the Goal

Advocate for integrating healing and joy as central goals within the legal systems you work in. Stress the importance of prioritizing these aspects for the wellbeing of child and youth clients.

Celebrate and Recognize

Celebrate your client's achievements and milestones. Advocate for recognition within the system to boost their self-esteem and motivation.

Incorporating these strategies into your legal advocacy can help your young clients reclaim their joy, fostering healing, wellbeing, and a positive outlook.


These resources offer valuable insights, tools, and perspectives to help individuals and communities navigate healing, love, and transformative justice. Engaging with these resources can contribute to personal growth, understanding, and positive social change.


  • The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
  • Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach
  • The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
  • Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges Are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them by Ross W. Greene
  • Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown
  • All About Love: New Visions by Bell Hooks
  • The Little Book of Restorative Justice by Howard Zehr
  • Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines edited by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, and Mai'a Williams

Websites and Online Platforms:


  • "The One You Feed" hosted by Eric Zimmer and Chris Forbes: This podcast explores well-being, mental health, and finding joy.
  • "Unlocking Us with Brené Brown" hosted Brené Brown: This podcast delves into topics like vulnerability, courage, and compassion, which are essential for healing and love.
  • "For the Wild" hosted by Ayana Young: This podcast explores the intersection of social justice, environmental activism, and spiritual healing.
  • "Love, Sex, and the Hidden Agenda" hosted by Suzanne Oshima: This podcast delves into love, relationships, and personal growth.