Juvenile Law and Justice Clinic Information

Teaching Holistic Juvenile Court Representation and Client-Centered Lawyering Skills

Student Attorneys Michelle Partham and Alix Rieck at
St. Louis County Juvenile Court

Student attorneys in the Juvenile Law and Justice Clinic have engaged in a wide-range of youth advocacy efforts on behalf of Missouri’s young people.  Given our holistic approach to juvenile representation our lawyering has taken place in juvenile courts, schools, the child welfare system, administrative proceedings, municipal, criminal and appellate courts, and in post-conviction proceedings. 

In handling legally, procedurally, and otherwise complex youth-centered cases, our student attorneys are frequently called upon to collaborate with social work, education, mental health, medical, and other non-legal experts. They emerge from the program experienced advocates who have established meaningful attorney-client relationships. They have honed their legal research and writing skills and learned what it means to be ethical lawyers and strategic thinkers who can zealously advocate for individual clients and client populations, frequently on multiple fronts.

  • Click here for clinic requirements and registration information for students.
  • Click here for press coverage of our youth advocacy work.

Delivering High-Quality, Free Legal Services for Indigent Youth

Our advocacy efforts have resulted in significant outcomes for our juvenile court clients in many cases – through successful negotiations, motions to dismiss, suppression hearings, and trials.  Our holistic representation efforts have also extended to the post-dispositional realm, working with young people placed with the Division of Youth Services to ensure they receive services and programming to which they are entitled. It is our goal to assist such youth as they transition from placement back into the community, helping to establish meaningful re-entry plans that may help prevent return to the juvenile justice system or entry into the criminal justice system.   Although our focus during the 2012-13 school year will be on our Miller/Jackson advocacy and Second Chance efforts (see below), we may be able to take on a few additional juvenile court cases.

  • Click here for assistance and more information relating to our free legal representation for St. Louis area youth.

Implementing Miller/Jackson in Missouri, Ending JLWOP, and Giving Impacted Youth a Second Chance

As one of only a few specialized juvenile defense programs in the state of Missouri, JR-REP has turned its attention to the plight of Missouri’s imprisoned young people.  Many of these individuals, as young as just 14, have been sentenced to die behind bars without any consideration of their age, role in their alleged crime, or other mitigating circumstances. 

However, on June 25, 2012, the United States Supreme Court invalidated the imposition of mandatory juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences in the cases of two teenagers, Evan Miller and Kuntrell Jackson.  This decision has significant implications for incarcerated youthful offenders in our state, as well for our juvenile and criminal justice system more generally.  This year (2012-13) our clinic will be focusing on advocacy efforts under Miller/Jackson, working to try to provide youthful offenders with a Second Chance.

Engaging in Systemic Reform and Public Citizen Lawyering Initiatives

The clinic also works to build and share youth advocacy knowledge and expertise on the local, state, regional and national levels through our various Public Citizen Lawyering (PCL) Initiatives. PCL initiatives undertaken in the past by our student attorneys include:

  • Establishing a book club for youth at Hogan Street to build reading, public speaking and other re-entry skills, and includes staff participation and visits by guest speakers;
  • Co-authoring an amicus brief with the Juvenile Law Center filed in the United States Supreme Court in Camreta v. Greene, a case relating to the Fourth Amendment rights of youth in schools; 
  • Providing resume writing and job interviewing training to youths held at the St. Louis County Detention Center; 
  • Training Big Brothers/Big Sisters staff about the ways in which the Juvenile Court system may impact the youth they serve; and 
  • Drafting and disseminating white papers on important topics such as Missouri's juvenile certification laws and practices and special education needs of foster children and older teens.  
  • Click here for more information about our Public Citizen Lawyering Initiatives and to access our publications.

Hosting Juvenile Justice Trainings and Other Programs for the Community, Bench, and Bar

On March 23, 2012 JR-REP hosted Washington University School of Law’s 12th Annual Access to Equal Justice Colloquium. This event, “Evolving Standards in Juvenile Justice: From Gault to Graham and Beyond,” brought together community stakeholders, lawyers and judges, state-level officials, and national juvenile justice experts to discuss theoretical and practical issues in juvenile justice with a view towards developing and sharing best practices. Papers from the program were published by Washington University's Journal of Law and Policy.

  • Click here for video highlights from our 12th Annual Access to Equal Justice Colloquium.
  • Click here for papers published from the Colloquium by our Journal of Law and Policy.

Need Additional Information?

If you have any questions about the clinic or its youth advocacy work, please contact Professor Mae Quinn at mquinn@wulaw.wustl.edu.