Juvenile Law Center's Levick on Seeking Fairness for Kids

Emma Cueto, www.law360.com •

When we started, we were local. We were really servicing southeast Pennsylvania. We saw ourselves as almost a storefront legal services office.

But over the course of time, as we began to do that kind of individual representation on behalf of kids, we also became attuned to the many systemic issues that affect children who come into contact with our legal system, both through the child welfare system and the justice system. We became involved in class action litigation very early on.

One of the first lawsuits we became involved in was a case that involved overcrowding and pretty horrific physical conditions at the juvenile detention center here in Philadelphia. But also, we became involved in a case challenging educational due process procedures having to do with suspension and expulsion of kids. I think that those two cases laid the groundwork for how we began to approach the work moving forward.

Everything we do involving kids always begins with one child’s story. And sometimes the best way to address that one child’s story is through direct representation, and sometimes it’s to understand what’s behind that story and look for opportunities to help not only that child but the many other children who are similarly situated.

About the Expert

Marsha Levick co-founded Juvenile Law Center in 1975. Throughout her legal career, Levick has been an advocate for children’s and women's rights and is a nationally recognized expert in juvenile law.