Juvenile Justice in the Children's Defense Clinic

August 4, 2021
Recent Graduate Reflects on Victory in Juvenile Justice Case 

The Children’s Defense Clinic is a “litigation-oriented, holistic defense opportunity for students,” explained Professor Julie McConnell, Director of the Children’s Clinic. “For many students, this is their first opportunity to really apply what they’ve been learning in law school and at the same time get to actually help bridge the justice gap.” One example of a student doing just that is recent graduate Karena Eidum, L’21. 

Eidum enrolled in law school right after completing her undergraduate degree in Economics and Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Coming into my 1L year, I was afraid of a cold call,” or wasn’t the first to raise her hand, she explained – which is why gaining hands-on experience in the clinic was so “confidence-building” for her. 

Eidum was assigned a case involving a juvenile who received a blended sentence — a juvenile sentence combined with an adult sentence on top. After much preparation, she took the lead on a hearing that lasted hours on behalf of her client, who “did everything in his power that he could do to take advantage of his time at the Department of Juvenile Justice.” Thanks to her advocacy, her client received a reduced sentence and will be released from the Department of Juvenile Justice to “go home with his mom, to start his life in the community, … and to put this behind him,” explained McConnell. 

“I definitely feel more confident in my skills as a lawyer,” said Eidum. “This hearing was my number one favorite thing that I did in law school. It was such a privilege to have this client place their trust in me as a law student, and it was so fulfilling for me to be able to be their advocate.”

Watch the full interview with Professor Julie McConnell and recent graduate Karena Eidum, L’21, below.