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Sankaran, Vivek

Clinical Professor of Law
Child Advocacy Law Clinic
Child Welfare Appellate Clinic

3050 South Hall

Professor Vivek S. Sankaran, '01, is a clinical professor of law and directs both the Child Advocacy Law Clinic and the Child Welfare Appellate Clinic. He also founded the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, an innovative legal clinic that seeks to prevent children from entering foster care. His research and policy interests center on improving outcomes for children in child welfare cases by empowering families and strengthening due process protections. Professor 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. He has litigated numerous cases on behalf of parents before the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals, has authored scholarly pieces and practical resource guides to assist child welfare professionals, and regularly conducts national and statewide trainings. He also was appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to the Child Abuse Prevention Board. Professor Sankaran earned his BA, magna cum laude, from the College of William and Mary. He earned his JD, cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, 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. Professor 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: Advice and Guidance for Family Defenders. M. Guggenheim, co-editor. American Bar Association, 2015.​

"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 "What Every Family Law Attorney Needs to Know about the Child Welfare System" at the Institute of Continuing Legal Education's Family Law Institute, Ann Arbor, November 2015. ​

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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