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Sankaran, Vivek

Clinical Professor of Law
Child Advocacy Law Clinic

3050 South Hall

Prof. Vivek S. Sankaran, '01, is a clinical professor of law and directs both the Child Advocacy Law Clinic and the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy. His research and policy interests center on improving outcomes for children in child abuse and neglect cases by empowering parents and strengthening due process protections in the child welfare system. Prof. Sankaran sits on the steering committee of the American Bar Association's National Project to Improve Representation for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System and works as a consultant for the National Center for State Court on Casey Family Programs' Judicial Engagement Project. He has litigated numerous cases on behalf of parents before the Michigan Supreme Court. He also has authored scholarly pieces and practical resource guides to assist professionals working with parents in the child welfare system and regularly conducts national and statewide training on these issues. He also was appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to the Child Abuse Prevention Board. Prof. Sankaran earned his BA, magna cum laude, from the College of William and Mary. He earned his JD, cum laude, from Michigan Law, where he was an associate editor of the Michigan Law Review. After law school, he joined the Children's Law Center (CLC) as a Skadden Fellow and became a permanent staff attorney with the CLC in September 2003. Prof. Sankaran was named the 2004 Michigan Law School Public Interest Alumni of the Year and in 2006, was certified as a child welfare specialist by the National Association of Counsel for Children. In 2011, he was named the Parent Attorney of the Year by the Michigan Foster Care Review Board.

Recent Publications

More Publications...

​Co-editor. Representing Parents in Child Welfare Cases. M. Guggenheim, co-editor. American Bar Association, Forthcoming.​​

"Using Preventive Legal Advocacy to Keep Children from Entering Foster Care." Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 40, no. 3 (2014): 1036-47.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | WWW


Presented "How To Hold Parents' Attorneys Accountable" at the 2015 Arizona Judicial Conference, Scottsdale, June 2015.​

Presented "Getting a Seat at the Table: How Parents Attorneys Can Use Data and Tell Stories to Reframe Our Role," Office of Regional Counsel Parent Attorney Training, West Palm Beach, Florida, May 2015. ​

Presented "Transforming Injustice into Systemic Reform," "Using Legal Wrap Around to Close the Front Door of Child Welfare," "Telling the Stories of Clients in Child Welfare Appeals," and "Navigating the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children: Strategies for Parents' Attorneys When Your Client Lives Out of State" at the ABA National Parents' Attorneys Conference, Washington, D.C., July 2013.

Child Welfare Advanced Appellate Training, Michigan State Court Administrative Office, Detroit, June 2013.

Presented "The Foundations of Strong Parent Advocacy" at Minnesota's Children's Justice Initiative Parent Attorney Conference, St. Cloud, Minnesota, May 2013.

Presented "Parental Placements under the ICPC" at the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children conference, Denver, May 2013.

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