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Barton Policy and Legislative Advocacy Clinics

The Barton Center's Policy and Legislative Advocacy Clinics engage students to work in interdisciplinary teams to identify and research real life problems relating to children and youth and then pursue policy development strategies to improve system response, achieve better outcomes, and advance justice for children.


Policy Clinic

Lawyers who practice in the public interest face a range of choices about which issues are most salient and what measures are best adapted to accomplishing desired goals. The purpose of this clinic is to engage students in the process of policy development, from conceptualization to the drafting of concrete proposals for reform.

Working in teams, students begin by identifying and researching real life problems relating to children and youth. Teams explore options for addressing the problem and produce blueprints to guide reform efforts. They receive detailed feedback on their work product.

Students also participate in ongoing initiatives in the Georgia child advocacy community and in building and sustaining partnerships with state agencies such as:

  • Department of Juvenile Justice
  • Office of the Child Advocate
  • Division of Family and Children’s Services
  • Voices for Georgia’s Children
  • Southern Center for Human Rights
  • A Future Not A Past campaign

Students are expected to work a minimum of 150 hours in the clinic over the semester (approximately 11 hours per week including the weekly clinic meeting) and receive 3 units of credit for their work.

Students work cooperatively in interdisciplinary teams to multiply their individual skills and knowledge. Each team project is supervised by a clinic faculty member. 


Legislative Advocacy Clinic

The purpose of this clinic is to engage students in the real-world process of taking a reform from the proposal stage to actual enactment. Students hone their advocacy skills by interacting with legislators and elected officials around current law reforms spearheaded by Barton and its community partners. They attend legislative sessions and present evidence-based testimony in support of initiatives. They live the life of a lobbyist, experiencing first-hand the realities of relationship-building and compromise that are hallmarks of the legislative process. Students also provide technical assistance to legislators and other stakeholders in assessing the merits and legality of various proposals. Examples of recent legislation spearheaded by Barton include increased protections for victims of commercial sexual exploitation, expanding the scope of the state’s mandatory child abuse reporting statute, and passage of a comprehensive revision to Georgia’s Juvenile Code. 

Students are expected to work a minimum of 150 hours in the clinic over the semester (approximately 11 hours per week including the weekly clinic meeting) and receive 3 units of credit for their work.

Students work cooperatively in interdisciplinary teams to multiply their individual skills and knowledge. Each team project is supervised by a clinic faculty member.


How to Apply

Eligibility: The Barton Policy Clinic (fall semester) and Legislative Advocacy Clinic (spring semester) are open to second- and third-year law students. Enrollment in the clinics is also open to students from the Rollins School of Public Health, the Candler School of Theology, and Georgia State University’s School of Social Work. Students may enroll for one semester or, with the permission of the director, for an entire year.

Prerequisites/Co-requisites: Students must have taken or be concurrently enrolled in Child Welfare Law and Policy. This requirement may be waived by the director if the student has participated in the Emory Summer Child Advocacy Program or has other significant substantive children’s law experience. Admission is competitive and students are offered placements on a rolling basis. Interviews are scheduled as applications are received and decisions are made shortly after the interviews.

Clinic Application: Students may submit their application through Symplicity or by emailing all required materials to Melissa Carter. The application includes the following documents:

  • Resume
  • Transcript
  • Writing sample
  • Personal statement: Describe in detail your interest in participating in the Policy Clinic or Legislative Advocacy Clinic. Identify any special qualifications, academic interests, experience, and career goals that support your application.

Application Deadline: 

October 2:  Application period opens

October 13: Application deadline

October 13-24:  Interview and rolling offers

October 28: Deadline to accept/decline all offers