National Youth at Risk Roundtables

National Youth at Risk Roundtable Series

Karen Mathis, Memphis, Miami

Karen Mathis: Video                   Memphis: Video                                  Dallas: Video                                    Miami: Video

The Purpose

  • To raise awareness among the ABA’s members regarding program and policy issues surrounding at-risk youth and the need to build capacity as we collaboratively address these concerns.
  • To help "connect the dots" by facilitating the collective work of youth advocates, youth-serving organizations, and youth themselves, along with lawyers as their partners in reform.

The Desired Outcomes

  • To collect information on what is already being done for at-risk youth around the country and create an online clearinghouse;
  • To exchange information about services, share programming ideas, and otherwise expand the overall network of at-risk youth advocates and those in the legal profession;
  • To identify how lawyers can use their influence to improve public policy, court practices, education/awareness/prevention campaigns, and legal representation in our juvenile and criminal systems;
  • To explore how lawyers can use their time and legal expertise to propose enhancements in government policy that help prevent teens from becoming delinquent or engaging in criminal acts.

The Process

Invitations are sent to leaders of national organizations and local programs that target at-risk populations, and to those in the legal, education and faith-based communities. During the 2 to 3 hour discussion, attendees exchange information, broaden their knowledge of services in their community, and make new contacts. State and/or local bar associations, local law firms and local juvenile courts should be solicited as partners. Attendees are asked to discuss the unmet needs of at-risk youth, focusing first on the local community and then on the national level. They also brainstorm about how lawyers can help meet these needs by developing policy, providing access to legal services, or otherwise focusing attention in a particular area of need.

The Agenda

The Roundtable Meeting organizer may choose to begin (or conclude) the meeting with light refreshments. Meetings may also be connected to larger events such as a conferences or trainings. A moderator summarizes the ABA Youth at Risk initiative, outlines the purpose of the Roundtable Meeting and facilitates introductions. The moderator also highlights particular national or local issues pertaining to at-risk youth, and asks participants to acknowledge their role in addressing these and related issues. Participants take 3 to 5 minutes each to introduce themselves and to highlight the work of their organizations and its impact on various constituencies within the at-risk youth population.

Next, the moderator leads a discussion on the unmet needs of at-risk youth in the community and across the nation. Attendees are invited to brainstorm about how lawyers can help meet these needs by developing policy, providing access to legal services, or otherwise focusing attention in a particular area of need and possible next steps. Participants are encouraged to determine next steps locally, such as holding follow-up meetings among community members, working with the state, local and specialty bars on policy development, reports on developing partnerships, and otherwise maintaining this new network.


Hempstead, NY | November 2, 2007
Sponsor: The Center for Children, Families and the Law at Hofstra Law School
Focus on youth at risk nationally and in Nassau County, NY, with focus on juvenile status offenders/truancy and LGBT youth

Excerpts from the Miami Roundtable on Youth at Risk

  • Welcome to Youth At Risk Panel Roundtable:
    Evett L. Simmons, Partner with Ruden McClosky, Smith, Schuster & Russell and the Chair of the ABA Presidential Advisory Counsel on Diversity in the Legal Profession. Video | Real Media | Mp3
  • Mobilizing Efforts:
    Andrew Schepard, Professor of Law Hofstra Director of the Center for Children, Families, and the Law. Video | Real Media | Mp3
  • Dealing with Truancy:
    J. Robert Flores, Administrator of the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention. Video | Real Media | Mp3

Need more information?

       Youth at Risk Initiative              Youth at Risk Initiative
Division for Public Education | Center on Children and the Law