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Elon Law establishes Juvenile Justice Clinic

Elon University School of Law has established the Juvenile Justice Intervention and Mediation Clinic, allowing law students, under the supervision of law faculty and attorneys, to provide mediation services for victims and offenders in juvenile crime cases as an alternative to criminal prosecution.

The clinic currently serves Guilford County, Judicial District 18, and will serve Alamance County, Judicial District 15A, in future years. Elon Law will partner with numerous organizations to operate a clinic that meets the needs of the community, including Guilford County Schools, regional courts, district attorneys, police and social services departments, and non-profit organizations in the region working to address juvenile delinquency.

Tom Noble

Elon Law professor Tom Noble, who will supervise the clinic, says the project will be a benefit to offenders and victims of crimes.

"Teens who commit crimes are less likely to become repeat offenders when they participate in mediation programs, so one of our objectives is to help lower the juvenile delinquency rate in the region," Noble says. "The clinic also seeks justice for victims by giving them the opportunity to face their offenders and, if they so choose, to help define the outcome of the mediation to repair harms done."

Noble says another benefit of the clinic is its educational value for law students. "The clinic is a real-world learning opportunity for Elon Law students, giving them important experience in the practice of law and helping them to develop skills in mediation and conflict-resolution that are highly valued in the legal profession," Noble says.

Elon Law students participating in the Juvenile Justice Clinic include, from left, Edward Garret, with professor Tom Noble, Misty Howard, David Morrow, Jessica Cooper, Ashley Shelton, and Maggy Vaughn

George R. Johnson Jr., dean of the law school, says the clinic is an integral part of the school's program of legal education, which emphasizes engaged learning and leadership development.

"The students who participate in this clinic will meet an important need in our community. They also will develop the knowledge and skills needed to serve as lawyer-leaders throughout their careers," Johnson said.

Law students participating in the clinic take courses in negotiation and mediation, and participate in a number of simulations as a prelude to serving clients directly.

The clinic is funded in part by a $223,587 grant from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. U.S. Representative Howard Coble (NC) was instrumental in obtaining these funds for the clinical program at Elon Law.

"On behalf of the faculty, students, and administration of Elon Law, I thank Congressman Coble for his efforts to obtain these funds to support Elon Law's new Juvenile Justice Intervention and Mediation Clinic," Johnson says. "Congressman Coble's efforts were important in the creation of this clinic, and our students, as well as the clients they serve, will benefit from these resources."

Howard Coble

The Juvenile Justice Clinic is Elon Law's second clinical law program, joining the law school's Wills Clinic. Elon Law also houses an externship program that includes a Housing and Domestic Relations Field Placement program, operated in partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina, and Judicial and Criminal Law externship programs with courts and public defenders offices across North Carolina.

Visit law.elon.edu for more information.

Philip Craft,
10/30/2009 5:18 PM