Clan Childlaw celebrates 16th birthday with launch of new strategy

Clan Childlaw celebrates 16th birthday with launch of new strategy

On 12 June, Clan Childlaw celebrated 16 years of delivering its child-centred legal outreach services for children and young people with an event held at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

Established in 2008, Clan Childlaw began life as a team of two committed to developing the legal service that would work best for children and young people.

Reflecting on the beginnings of Clan Childlaw, chief executive and principal solicitor Alison Reid said: “The concept came from watching lawyers with their suits and briefcases coming to children’s hearings… They looked like they were from a different world and definitely an adult world rather than the children’s world which everyone else in the room was part of. The lawyers didn’t fit in. It started me thinking – how would a child know they had a legal issue? How would they find a lawyer to help them get what they were entitled to?”

Over 16 years working as lawyers with children and young people Clan have learned exactly what being a good lawyer for children means. They have developed a unique set of communication skills and knowledge about child development, trauma and children’s environments and experience, enabling them to put the child’s needs and views at the centre of legal processes. Clan calls this working in a “child-centred” way.

Clan’s vision was, and is, for Scotland’s children to have access to lawyers that are experts in working with children, as well as experts in the different areas of law that affect children. Clan wants to make being a ‘children’s lawyer’ a recognised legal skill set.

At their 16th birthday Clan shared their vision for embedding the idea of child-centred legal practice in legal education and the profession. In the year in which UNCRC is incorporated in Scotland, Clan will be at the forefront of what that means for legal practice for those representing children and young people.

During the launch Deputy Principal Solicitor Julia Donnelly said: “We want the next generation of lawyers to start out in the profession enthusiastic about the possibility of specialising as a children’s lawyer, and able to develop those skills from the very start of their practice.”

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