Juvenile Defense and Policy Fellowship

Juvenile Defense and Policy Fellow – Position Description

The Juvenile Defense and Policy Fellowship was founded in 2013 to support the Juvenile Justice Initiative. The Juvenile Justice Initiative at Georgetown seeks to raise the level of practice among practicing juvenile defenders, both regionally and nationally, as well as to improve the systems youth encounter through policy advocacy. The position is open to all recent graduates of accredited law schools. Georgetown Law graduates are preferred. A recent graduate is someone who earned their Juris Doctor in 2014 or later, or who will have been awarded their degree by July of 2018. 

The Juvenile Defense and Policy Fellow's role combines elements of legal research, policy and legislative advocacy, academic writing, project coordination, and event planning. The role also offers an opportunity for the fellow to design and execute projects of his or her own that fall under the Initiative's mission. Fellows with clinical experience in criminal or juvenile defense will have some opportunity to represent clients in delinquency proceedings in their second year.

The fellow will be supervised by Clinic Director Kristin Henning and Policy Director Eduardo Ferrer. 


The fellow will manage existing projects and propose new projects to further the Initiative's community outreach and holistic advocacy objectives.

Our ongoing projects include the DC Juvenile Panel Trial Practice Group, the Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) Summer Academy, and the Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center. The fellow will coordinate the DC Juvenile Panel Trial Practice Group by scheduling trainings and authoring a bi-weekly newsletter with case law updates and practice tips for panel attorneys. Additionally, the fellow will coordinate and help manage the Juvenile Training Immersion Program Summer Academy, a weeklong training program for new and experienced juvenile defenders. The Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center is a regional center of the National Juvenile Defender Center that supports juvenile defenders in DC, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico. The fellow will be expected to schedule board meetings, coordinate MAJDC projects such as planning trainings and developing written resources for attorneys in these states, and responding to field inquiries from our region, including resource requests and attorney referral requests.

The fellow will also attend policy coalition meetings with local stakeholders, attend legislative hearings, and complete various research and writing tasks throughout the fellowship. The fellow will also be expected to research funding opportunities and to write grants and funding proposals in cooperation with the Development office when opportunities arise. Additionally, the fellow will be expected to manage new Initiative projects that arise over the two years he or she is in the position. Finally, the fellow will have the option to spearhead his or her own project. Fellow projects in the past have included the coordination of a national symposium on race and juvenile justice and a sealing records project. 


The fellow must possess strong writing, communication and public speaking skills, the ability to manage long-term projects from creation to completion, and a willingness to collaborate with other clinic colleagues and juvenile system stakeholders.


The Juvenile Justice Initiative at a Glance:

 A Snapshot of Our Past, Current, and Upcoming Work

As one of the first legal clinics of its kind, the Georgetown Law Juvenile Justice Clinic continues to be one of the premier law school clinics in the country. The Juvenile Justice Clinic is a law school program in which students represent youth charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes in the District of Columbia under close faculty supervision. The Clinic provides highly effective representation to their clients by protecting the youth's rights in the juvenile justice system and working to improve the youth's chances of becoming a productive citizen. Through their case work and classroom assignments, Clinic students learn to think independently, synthesize facts and legal principles, and develop interviewing, counseling, negotiation, and trial skills. 

The Clinic launched the Juvenile Justice Initiative to raise the level of practice among juvenile defenders in the Mid-Atlantic region and to advocate for policy reform in the juvenile justice system nationally. The Juvenile Justice Initiative has continued its important work in 2017, with a concerted effort on racial justice reform. Key events this past year included hosting an assessment of the DC indigent juvenile defense delivery system, coordinating a groundbreaking symposium on race and juvenile justice, and training defenders and other juvenile justice stakeholders on strategies for identifying and correcting racial bias.

In March 2017, the Juvenile Justice Initiative hosted a team of expert investigators from across the country to interview juvenile court stakeholders in the District of Columbia and observe juvenile court proceedings to evaluate access to and the quality of indigent defense representation for youth. This is the first time in the history of the DC juvenile indigent defense system that stakeholders welcomed an outside eye to critically evaluate our day-to-day performance and access to justice for youth in the District. Look out for the groundbreaking report in early 2018.

Also this year, we hosted an interdisciplinary symposium on May 16, 2017 at Georgetown Law entitled "The Right to Remain Children: Race and Juvenile Justice 50 Years After Gault," in partnership with the National Juvenile Defender Center. The conference commemorated the 50th anniversary of In re Gault, 387 US 1, the seminal case that guaranteed accused youth the right to appointed counsel. Fifty years after Gault, the overcriminalization of youth of color continues to be one of the greatest challenges facing the juvenile system. Through a series of impactful talks and corresponding panels featuring renowned criminal and juvenile justice thought leaders, the symposium challenged the persistence of racial injustice in the juvenile system to advance ongoing reform efforts.

We have worked with the National Juvenile Defender Center to develop two defender training modules: the first on the collateral consequences of juvenile adjudications, and the second on the strategy of raising racial justice arguments during Fourth Amendment proceedings. The Initiative also published Post-Disposition Representation in the District of Columbia, a practice manual for defenders in DC.

Additionally, we have continued our hallmark programs this year, including hosting trainings for the DC Juvenile Trial Practice Group, mentoring our second class of the MAJDC Rural Ambassadors, hosting our fourth year of the JTIP Summer Academy, and coordinating a two-day training for juvenile defenders practicing in rural Southwest Virginia, an area that has been identified as the most isolated part of the state for access to training.

The DC Juvenile Trial Practice Group hosts monthly trainings at Georgetown Law for members of the DC juvenile court-appointed panel and prepares a bi-weekly newsletter, including case updates from the DC Court of Appeals and juvenile practice tips.

The MAJDC Rural Ambassadors Program selects five juvenile defenders in the Mid-Atlantic region and offers a year of programming to raise the level of practice and encourage specialization in juvenile defense.

JTIP Summer Academy is a weeklong intensive training program for juvenile defenders across the country hosted at Georgetown Law.

Soon we hope to expand our racial justice efforts through the creation of a racial justice toolkit to empower juvenile defenders with the information, skills and resources to fight the overpolicing, overcriminalization, and school push out of youth of color. Through the Toolkit, we hope to inspire juvenile defenders to view racial justice advocacy as an integral and essential component of their youth advocacy. 

We also hope to launch Ambassadors for Racial Justice, a pilot program for young attorneys of color to encourage them to pursue a career in juvenile defense and provide support once they enter the profession. Youth in the justice system face significant hurdles to success, and affording them the opportunity to be represented by specialized highly skilled lawyers of color is critically important as they navigate their own identity.

Our current juvenile defense and policy fellow has had an integral role in many of these past projects. We anticipate that our new fellow will assist with these efforts and spearhead new projects! 



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