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Why Kids Need Lawyers: Representing Children in Child Welfare Proceedings

(508 reviews)

Produced on October 05, 2016

$ 99 Family & Matrimonial and Public Interest In Stock
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Course Information

Time 1h 30m
Difficulty Beginner
Topics covered in this course: Family & Matrimonial Public Interest

Course Description

When a parent is charged with abuse or neglect, courts make decisions that can change a child’s life forever. But who represents the child in the court proceedings? What does “representing” a child even look like? Are legal skills necessary to such representation, or does “lawyering” get in the way?

In this program, two New York City-based attorneys for children, Carolyn Silvers and Meridith Sopher of The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice, examine the laws governing the representation of children in child welfare dependency proceedings and discuss why attorneys are critical to a just outcome in these cases. 

Learning Objectives:
  1. Identify the interests at stake for children whose parents are charged with abuse or neglect
  2. Review federal framework for the representation of children in child welfare dependency cases
  3. Gain insight as to the need for an attorney to represent the child in these cases
  4. Explore different models of child representation around the country and their due process implications
  5. Recognize the legal guidance for determining a child’s best interests, and the challenges inherent in that determination
  6. Understand the client-directed advocacy model used in New York and its benefits for all participants in the child welfare court proceeding

Note: This course is approved for GAL for children in Virginia. If you would like a GAL certificate, please email our Customer Support team after completing the course.

Credit Information

After completing this course, Lawline will report your attendance information to {{ accredMasterState.state.name }}. Please ensure your license number is filled out in your profile to ensure timely reporting. For more information, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements page . After completing this course, {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} attorneys self-report their attendance and CLE compliance. For more information on how to report your CLE courses, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements FAQ .


Meridith Sopher

The Legal Aid Society

Meridith Sopher is the Director of Child Welfare Training at the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice, where she has practiced as an attorney handling both child welfare and juvenile delinquency cases since 1997. As the Director of Child Welfare Training, Ms. Sopher is responsible for training JRP’s staff at all levels of practice. She has created an initial training core curriculum for attorneys representing children in child welfare cases that is available on the New York Court System’s website for use state-wide. Ms. Sopher also participates in the development of initiatives, model documents, and training materials for staff, and oversees JRP’s Adolescent Practice Team, which focuses on assisting youth ages 18-21 to prepare for life after foster care. She has spoken at conferences sponsored by organizations such as the National Association of Counsel for Children, the Practising Law Institute, the Child Welfare Court Improvement Project, and the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, and she has been an instructor for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy’s program, “Training the Lawyer to Represent the Whole Family.” 

Ms. Sopher has served as chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Juvenile Justice Committee, and she has also been a member of the Bar’s Council on Children and the Children and the Law Committee. Ms. Sopher was certified as a Child Welfare Law Specialist, and she received her J.D. from Fordham University and her B.A. from Dartmouth College.

Carolyn Silvers

The Legal Aid Society

Carolyn Silvers is the Attorney-in-Charge of the Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Practice Queens trial office. In her 27 years with JRP, Carolyn has represented young people in child protective, juvenile delinquency, and PINS case in New York City Family Courts in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens and has also supervised staff in all five boroughs. For fifteen years, Carolyn has also worked as an instructor for the National Institute For Trial Advocacy (NITA). She received a B.S. degree from Northwestern University in 1984 and her J.D. in 1987 from the New York University School of Law.


Sean S.

great course

Holly S.

awesome course on a topic id like to have more CLE on!

Tally G.

Excellent overview.

David S.

Several things I heard have made me rethink some of my positions as a GAL in my approach to some cases.

Herbert S.

The two speakers were very well informed and very organized. This is not my field but I was impressed with their knowledge, organization and deep commitment to child advocacy.

Lawrence P.

Excellent course! Thank you!

James D.

Good course

John E.

Excellent presentation.

Cathleen C.

Passionate presentation! Very informative.

Ann H.

Excellent program!

Lisa P.


Robin L.

Great session

Bosky K.


Paul S.

Very interesting presentation.

Michelle W.

very insightful

Dorrie W.

These presenters were very careful in their advice, and I appreciate that. I have worked with many children over my 40 years in practice, and I agree with the advice and discussions in this program. Well worth the time.

Anne R.

Great course! lots of information!

Pat I.

Very good. Thank you.

Tara B.

This was one of the best CLEs I've listened to, on Lawline or anywhere. Substantive, thoughtful, engaging.

john t.

Content and discussion by presenter very good, dealing with legal issue and culture issues.

T William D.


Erin M.

Presenters and format excellent.

Tommy T.

This course is worth taking for just about any attorney, but especially for general practitioners.

Kevin M.

very knowledgeable.

Sarah B.

Extremely knowledgeable, thoughtful presentation.

Brett H.

Great program

Julie A. B.

Instructive. Good conversational style between the two talented presenters.

Keric C.

Excellent presentation!

Hilary M.

Great presenters!

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