Law professor and third-year student participate in children’s rights symposium
Professor Brent Pattison, director of the Middleton Center for Children’s Rights, and Lori Bullock, third-year law student at Drake, recently participated in an invitation-only symposium in Seattle on the right to counsel for children in abuse and neglect proceedings.
The symposium, entitled “Fostering Justice: Third National Conference on the Right to Counsel for Abused and Neglected Children,” was sponsored by the American Bar Association and the University of Washington Law School, and brought together advocates from across the country to discuss litigation and public policy strategies for improving access to counsel for children. Professor Pattison moderated a discussion on using legislation and court rules to bolster a child’s right to counsel.
“Iowa has a very strong statutory right to counsel for children in abuse and neglect proceedings,” said Prof. Pattison. “But many states appoint counsel for children infrequently, and rely instead on advocates without legal training. This symposium created a unique opportunity for strategizing about how to make sure all children have access to qualified counsel in these important cases.”
Lori Bullock, research assistant for Professor Pattison, also participated in the symposium. She helped a group of former foster youth develop arguments about why counsel is so important in child welfare proceedings, and along with several former foster youth, addressed the symposium at its closing session.
“The symposium was an invaluable opportunity to meet an amazing group of lawyers and former foster youth who are committed to improving access to counsel for children,” explained Bullock. “It was a great experience, and an example of the special opportunities Drake Law students have to work on real problems during their legal education.”