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Welcome to the Child Advocacy Law Clinic (CALC), the oldest child welfare law clinic in the country in which law students, under the supervision of experienced faculty members, represent children, parents, and other parties in foster-care proceedings. Created in 1976, CALC has represented thousands of families involved in the child-welfare system and has trained thousands of students who now serve in leadership positions in nonprofit organizations, state and local government agencies, and private firms. CALC graduates often rank their involvement in the clinic as the most formative experience in their legal education.

In addition to directly representing families in trial court proceedings, students in the clinic have drafted statutes, conducted trainings, written articles, and handled appeals. The work of the students and faculty has led to systemic reform on both the state and national level and has earned the praise of judges, policy makers, and others.

Featured News

In addition to teaching clinical and doctrinal courses at the Law School, clinic faculty are actively involved in practical child welfare work—including representing clients in trial and appellate proceedings, drafting reports for foundations and governmental agencies, presenting at state and national conferences, and writing articles and editorial pieces. Below is a sampling of recent news.

  • Professor Frank Vandervort wrote an Op-ed article in the Lansing State Journal on reforming juvenile restitution laws. Click here to read the article.

  • May 1, 2014, Professor Don Duquette presented at the 2014 National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect in New Orleans, "Six Core Skills: A Best Practice Training Model for Lawyers Representing Children."

  • April 29, 2014, Professor Don Duquette presented at the National Court Improvement Project meeting in New Orleans, "Toward a Non-Adversarial Collaborative Culture in Child Welfare Proceedings."

  • In April 2014, Professor Vivek Sankaran presented at the Colorado Office of the Children's Representative Annual Conference on engaging families to achieve better outcomes in child welfare cases.

  • On February 21, 2014, Professor Joshua Kay presented two sessions for child welfare attorneys who represent parents at a conference sponsored by the Michigan State Court Administrative Office, Child Welfare Services Division.

  • On February 7, 2014, Professor Joshua Kay presented "The Problems and Possibilities of Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection" at a training for attorneys representing parents in child welfare proceedings in Genesee County, Michigan.

  • January 29, 2014, Professor Joshua Kay presented "Understanding and Using Psychological Assessments for Better Case Planning and Best Interest Determinations" at a training for child welfare attorneys in Lansing, Michigan. The training was sponsored by the Michigan State Court Administrative Office.

  • On January 14, 2014, Professor Joshua Kay presented "Effective Courtroom Presentation for Mental Health Professionals" at a training for Genesee County Health Services mental health personnel.

The Student Experience

"The Child Advocacy Law Clinic gave me the opportunity to gain hands-on legal experience with the help of supportive and spirited faculty. I was immersed in an environment where intellect met zeal, which inspired me to welcome challenging legal issues and embrace the volatility of trial-court practice. I would not have much of the determination and skill that I employ in my career today were it not for my participation in CALC at Michigan Law."
—Atasi Satpathy, '11, Committee for Public Counsel Services

"The Child Advocacy Law Clinic operates not like a class, but like a law firm. While the professors are there to help with your cases, they're rarely going to just tell you what to do. This puts a huge power and an accompanying responsibility into your hands. You will appear in court. You will negotiate with opposing counsel. The arguments you make have the power to sway an actual judge. The outcome can literally change a client's life."
—Yonatan Berkovits, '10, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

"The Child Advocacy Law Clinic provides students with a profound and real-life legal experience that is hard to come by in law school. The clinic tasks students the invaluable, unique, and hands-on responsibility of interfacing with clients, opposing counsel, judges, and government employees. On a deeply satisfying personal level, students are privileged to perform the lawyer's ultimate task—counseling those in need."
—Adir Greenfeld, '09, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP

"While I learned how to 'think' like a lawyer in my substantive law classes, CALC helped me learn what it means to actually 'be' a lawyer who has clients depending on her."
—Ashley Thompson, '09, Schiff Hardin LLP

Contact Us

The Child Advocacy Law Clinic represents parents, children, foster parents, and relatives involved in the foster-care system. We primarily practice in one of the following counties: Washtenaw, Genesee, Livingston, and Wayne. If you have a case and would like us to represent you or want more information about our work, please call 734.763.5000. We do not charge for our services.