Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2000

Abstract

There are several obstacles to training and supporting pediatric lawyers. Children are a relatively new group of clients and law schools have not traditionally provided pediatric training. The required training is particularly challenging to deliver because it is inherently interdisciplinary, requiring faculty and students to look outside of the law school to obtain necessary knowledge. The greatest obstacle to developing the careers of pediatric lawyers is the low pay and low prestige typically afforded children's lawyers. As a result, law students reasonably question the likelihood of developing a successful career in the field. The number of available jobs is limited and pediatric lawyers can rarely spend significant time or money on training or other educational resources. In this article, we describe the various components of the pediatric law career program at the University of Michigan Law School, which provide the requisite specialized knowledge and skills for representation of child clients. Central is the Child Advocacy Law Clinic, described in Part II, which has been training law students in child protection law and practice since 1976. Part III explains how the Interdisciplinary Seminar in Child Abuse and Neglect emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of pediatric work in a setting that challenges law students to see the practice from the viewpoint of other disciplines. The Bergstrom Summer Child Welfare Law Fellowship, described in Part IV, introduces students to pediatric practice and builds a network of child advocates from throughout the United States. Part V describes the Child Welfare Law Resource Center which carries the knowledge and skills developed in the law school setting to practicing pediatric lawyers and judges in Michigan, providing pediatric lawyers with inexpensive and ready access to specialized continuing legal education. Throughout, we also offer a few stories of careers developing in this field to illustrate why these components are needed. We conclude with hope for the future development of a pediatric law career track in the United States.


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