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Pursuing Justice for Juveniles

The Legal Aid Society is the primary public defender for New York City youth. We are committed to providing our clients with continuous, comprehensive, and zealous representation. In New York City’s Family and Criminal Courts we counsel youth and families impacted by the Juvenile Justice system—including preventing police interrogations, arranging for safe surrenders, and avoiding court filings through early engagement of legal support and intervention.

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Every day, in courthouses and communities across the city, we advocate for the rights of young New Yorkers. Learn more about the services we provide.

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Making a Difference

Projects, Units & Initiatives

Our Juvenile Rights and Criminal Defense Practices ensure that children and adolescents charged with offenses in New York City’s courts receive the most vigorous, informed, and effective defense possible.  Our interdisciplinary trial teams and specialized units ensure comprehensive, meaningful representation and support for our youngest clients at every stage of their cases and beyond.

Our Work with Partners

Fingerprints Expunged

Working on a longterm project with Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, the Juvenile Rights Practice Special Litigation Law Reform Unit (SLLRU) committed to reducing the stigma associated with the arrest and prosecution of youth.

In the process, over 15,000 children’s fingerprints have been destroyed since 2016, paving the way for young people to pursue the employment and other opportunities that can lead to the productive, rewarding futures that they deserve. The team continues to closely monitor the NYPD to ensure compliance and protect New York’s children from future violations.

A Day In The Life

Helping Students Thrive in the Education Advocacy Project

As a Staff Attorney in our Education Advocacy Project (EAP), Kai-lin Hsu is helping children get an education. Kai-lin and her colleagues at EAP work with clients from our Juvenile Rights Practice to ensure that all of their educational needs are met. From helping students with learning disabilities find the right schools, to representing children in suspension hearings, Kai-lin makes sure that these most vulnerable New Yorkers have a voice.

Kai-lin Hsu stands in the hallway of a Legal AId Society office, wearing a suit
Kai-lin Hsu Education Advocacy Project

By the Numbers

As the public defender for New York City’s children and youth, our Juvenile Rights Practice works on juvenile delinquency cases from arraignment to appeal and beyond, creating systemic change through legislative reform, policy advocacy, and impact litigation.

90%

We represent 90% of children in family court.

70,000+

Juvenile Rights interdisciplinary teams of Attorneys, Social Workers, Paralegals, and Investigators amplified the voice of children in 70,000+ appearances in Family Court.

75%

75% of our juvenile and adolescent clients who are prosecuted in adult court are released back their families and communities because of the advocacy of our Adolescent Intervention Diversion Unit.

A contribution to The Legal Aid Society is about more than money.

Every donation helps us offer essential legal services to thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers, helping people buy food, pay rent, and care for themselves and their families.

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