Conference Honors Clinics’ 30th Anniversary

Fall 2013

Columbia Law School’s Child Advocacy, Prisoners and Families, and Family Advocacy Clinics hosted a daylong conference at Jerome Greene Hall in late April to discuss how their work and the needs of families have changed during the past three decades.

At the conference, Professor Jane M. Spinak and Professor Philip M. Genty brought together experts from a range of fields for panel discussions covering six topics: scholarship; clinical legal education; policy and practice; criminal justice and prisons; interdisciplinary work; and professionalism. Panelists included graduates who shared how the Law School’s clinical programs influenced their work and career choices.

In the afternoon, conference participants met in small groups designated by class years. The attendees were then given the opportunity to provide their feedback through moderators, as various participants presented a summary of their sessions. Afterward, everyone celebrated with a closing reception.

Spinak initially began the Child Advocacy Clinic in 1982 to provide much-needed representation to children voluntarily placed in foster care by their parents. That mission has evolved along with shifting needs. The clinic’s Adolescent Representation Project currently focuses on helping children as they age-out of foster care and other institutional settings.

In 1989, the program expanded to include the Family Advocacy Clinic, which was founded by Genty to represent parents in administrative court proceedings. Less than a decade later, he helped to establish the Prisoners and Families Clinic to address the legal needs of incarcerated parents.