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Representing Children_ Talking and Advocating

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Representing Children
Lori K. Duke, Clinical ProfessorChildren’s Rights Clinic |University of Texas School of [email protected]| 512.232.1294
Rules For Effectively Representing Children
Meet with your client regularlyKnow your caseBe a lawyer
Rule 1: Meet yourclient
Why?TexasFamilyCode: 107.001, 107.003. 107.004Disciplinary Rules: 1.01, 1.02, 1.03,1.05, 2.01Because you can’t effectively represent a client you don’t know and haven’t met.
As soon as possibleAt placement if appropriateConfidentiality and exceptionsRoles/PeopleManage ExpectationsExplain Parties
Interviewing Do’s:
Interview siblings separately&togetherPrivate, but not enclosed, spaceAskopen ended questionsLikes/dislikesChoiceof placement – 1, 2, 3:write this downFocus on Judge making decisionsObserve child’s body languageIf appropriate, tell them about parents and progress, that they love them, etc.Texas Disciplinary Rule: 2.01 AdvisorRole: Sustainclient’s morale, butbe honest.Mustexplain in terms they understandCommonsense: reveal as necessary
Interviewing Don’ts
Question about past abusePretendto know them or their livesAssume to know outcomeCriticizetheir parentsMakepromisesUsejargonGive empty platitudesImproper boundaries
Children’s Top Concerns:
Whenwill I go home?Whenwill Ivisitmymom/dad/sibling?Wherewill Ilive?Wherewill I go to school?
How to explain the system
Use simple language to explain; avoidjargonWho are all these people?Procedural overview IF APPROPRIATESpeakingtojudgeRegular hearingsMotions practice
Law doesn’t require meeting them, but shouldSleeping, eating, developmental, health, immunizations, addiction issues, attachmentHoware foster parentsactingLovingAttachedWant to adoptAbility to work withbiological family
Elementary/Middle School
Education levelIntelligencelevelChangingschools?McKinney-Vento to keep in same schooldistrictFoster Care LiaisonIndividualEducational PlanARDParents/siblings/relatives/fictive kinMedical/dental issues
Same issues – medical, mental health, therapySchoolPALCircle of Support16+CollegewaiverDriver’slicense/ID/RecordsCollegeTours/Conferences
Have them explain what you told themAskpermission to share information/telljudgeProblem solve for difficult situationsAskif they have questionsGiveyour contact information
Rule 2: Know YourCase
Sources of information:ClientsDocumentsTestimonyParentsRelativesCaregiversOther professionalsOffense ReportsCourt Reports – CPS & CASAFacebook/Twitter/YouTube/internet searchesDon’t fried/connectSearch phone and email
Meetings & Visitation:Go, observe, and advocate
Impressions of parents’ responsibilityRelationship of parentsRelationship of parents and familyClients’ behavior especially if youngRole of AALPlacement and permanency options
Rule 3: Represent Client’s Legal Interests
Does client have capacity to form attorney-client relationship?Substituted JudgmentDirect representationKnow your own biasesDouble check presumptions
Legal Issues
Father’s StatusCCJICWACitizenship/ImmigrationJuvenile involvementCriminal involvement – victimICPCPlacement
Advocate for clientGet there early to negotiate issuesUse legal tools: discovery and motionsBe independent even if alignedFrame the issues through your client’s eyes
Ideas for Making a Difference
Placement Issues: Standing orders requiring ad litem agreementMotions Practice: placement with caregiversDaycare/servicesReturn and MonitorAdvocate for client’s legal positions





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Representing Children_ Talking and Advocating