New partnership places UofM students in charge of juvenile court - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

New partnership places UofM students in charge of juvenile court cases

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

If something ever goes wrong with your child and they have to go through the juvenile court system, they could be getting specialized help from students at the University of Memphis Law School. A new program aims at improving the system.

On Thursday, judges, lawyers, and U of M law students sat at the same table, symbolic of their new partnership.

Third year law student Maggie Kelley is one of eight students representing juveniles in court cases. Thanks to the new program, Maggie has already worked her first case, which involved a young person accused of theft. 

"We're trying to look at the child's life and their home life and what's going on in school and what's going on in the background to see why the child is doing what they're doing," Kelley said. 

The law school said its students are ready for these complex cases. Students had an intensive, 40-hour training program to prepare. They'll also be overseen at all times by a professor while in court. But once they're in a courtroom, the student is in charge. 

"They're doing the whole thing, and that's really invaluable to their education," Dean of the Memphis Law School, Pete Letsou, said.

This is the seventh community clinic the Law School is running in Memphis. Many of them have started in just the last few years. 

"That's, I think, the advantage that our law school brings to legal education," Letsou said. "We're here in the heart of Memphis, in the heart of a big city."

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell knows how important this work is to the Memphis community.

"If we don't raise our children right, we'll never solve the problem of crime in our community," Luttrell said. 

Our local law students are helping solve Memphis' problems and getting the best outcome for our troubled kids. 

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