Issue Brief-Specialized Training: Advancing the Ethical and Professional Representation of Youth

There is an immediate and predominant need for specialized training in juvenile defense: training is both the foundation and the gateway to comprehensive advocacy by juvenile defenders, and it is key to ensuring that youths’ constitutionally mandated due process rights are protected. To be effective and zealous advocates, juvenile defenders must develop a set of specialized skills and a knowledge base unique to the practice of juvenile defense—a set of skills and a knowledge base that are considerably different from and broader than that needed for adult criminal defense. Beyond knowledge of criminal law, juvenile defenders need to be familiar with terminology, procedures, timelines, standards, and case law specific to delinquency proceedings; be familiar with appropriate local services and programs to advocate effectively at disposition; be versed in a growing body of research in adolescent development; be able to communicate complex legal principles to their young clients in developmentally appropriate ways; be able to manage and engage with the families of their young clients; have a thorough understanding of other child-serving systems, such as the education, welfare, and mental health systems; be aware of the collateral consequences of juvenile court involvement that can continue well into adulthood; and be able to monitor post-disposition progress after sentencing. Specialized training is crucial to help defenders develop these practice skills and keep pace with an evolving body of scientific research and legal jurisprudence that applies directly to the representation of children.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Gault Center Publications, Policy Tool, Resource Library
Tags: Specialization, Youth Defense Systems