Children's Voice and Justice: Lawyering for Children in the 21st Century
52 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2006
This paper was one of the opening papers for a working conference at William S. Boyd School of Law, UNLV, in January 2006, "Representing Children in Families: Children's Advocacy & Justice Ten Years After Fordham." The conference was a reflection on and continuation of the Conference on Ethical Issues in the Legal Representation of Children. This paper introduces the project and establishes a framework for the exploration of the relationships between children's advocacy and justice. The paper is built on two premises: children's lawyers want to help children; and the natural dominance and myopia of lawyers is exacerbated when representing children in ways that can easily mask children's disparate identities and needs. The paper asserts that because children are not able to direct their lawyers as forcefully or coherently as adults, lawyers for children should exercise extra care and strategies to ascertain children's needs and wishes, such as viewing children through multiple lenses (not just "developmental" and legal) and engaging children's families and communities in our work. The paper presents three conceptual approaches for child advocacy and justice: procedural, legal and social. It then explores a manner of advocacy that might amplify the voice of children (and families and communities) both in legal proceedings to which children are parties and in defining justice.
Keywords: children, families, lawyering, justice, advocacy, community, bias
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation