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At-Risk Youth to Benefit From New Collaboration Between Law School and Covenant House

February 08, 2006 – 
The Community Law Clinic at Rutgers School of Law–Newark has begun a unique collaboration with Covenant House New Jersey (CHNJ) that will increase direct legal assistance for current clients at Covenant House Newark and help CHNJ to enhance its capacity to serve homeless and at-risk youth throughout the state. The collaboration, called the Youth Advocacy Project, is funded by a grant from the New Jersey State Bar Foundation.

“This initiative brings the considerable experience of our clinical program in successfully assisting both at-risk young people and non-profits to the state’s largest non-profit provider of care and services for vulnerable young adults,” said Professor Jon C. Dubin, Director of Clinical Programs. “Because Covenant House is a 24/7 facility,” Dubin added, “the Youth Advocacy Project also provides evening law students with an opportunity for hands-on, intensely supervised legal training.” Rutgers School of Law–Newark has eight in-house clinics in which students learn essential lawyering skills working on real cases involving under-represented individuals and communities. Faculty and students in the Community Law Clinic, the Child Advocacy Clinic, and the Urban Legal Clinic will participate in the Youth Advocacy Project.

The State Bar Foundation grant provides for a Youth Advocacy Project Bar Fellow, administrative oversight and corporate legal assistance by the Community Law Clinic, and legal services by the Child Advocacy Clinic and the Urban Legal Clinic in areas of representation most needed by Covenant House clients. These include SSI disability hearings and appeals, foster care transition, housing issues, and special education.

Rutgers law students who will participate in the collaboration with Covenant House will be guided by faculty members with extensive experience in community development and transactional legal work for non-profits, and in providing legal representation in civil matters as well as community education efforts to low-income children and families. In helping Covenant House to extend its support for vulnerable youth aging out of foster care, the Youth Advocacy Project will also train new lawyers in the representation of young adults as well as non-profit institutional clients.