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Joseph F. Rice School of Law

Youth Defender Clinic

Student attorneys in the Youth Defender Clinic represent teenagers accused of crimes and status offenses in Richland and Lexington County Family Court. Student attorneys interview and counsel clients, investigate and research cases, prepare for trials, negotiate with solicitors and the Department of Juvenile Justice, and advocate for clients in and out of court at all stages of a case from intake through disposition

The clinic will afford participating students an opportunity to gain closely-supervised experience in the representation of real clients and the practice of the skills of litigation planning, client counseling, fact development, negotiating, and courtroom advocacy. The vehicle for such training and experience is the planning, preparation and presentation of the legal defense of children in cases involving allegations of delinquent (i.e. criminal) conduct, including pre-trial issues, guilt or innocence, and disposition (i.e. sentencing) advocacy.

All casework will be done under the supervision of a clinical professor.

Participating in the Juvenile Justice Clinic allowed me to develop holistic trial and advocacy skills that were client-focused and solution-oriented. We directly represented justice-involved children, partnered with national and state organizations on juvenile justice issues, and participated in true discourse regarding racial, economic and social injustices in the field. My selection as a 2018 Equal Justice Works Fellow would not have occurred but for the expert training Professor Josh Gupta-Kagan provided during my clinic. The vital skills I acquired during this intensive experiential learning are transferable to any practice and the benefits of this clinic and the USC Law clinical program at large are unparalleled.

Lashawnda Woods-Roberts ’18
Lashawnda Woods-Roberts


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.