UGA law school conference to spotlight interdisciplinary advocacy for survivors of child sexual abuse

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia School of Law’s Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic will host a conference focusing on interdisciplinary advocacy for survivors of child sexual abuse on January 26 and 27. The conference is open to the public.

Event discussions will focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and holistic, trauma-informed services for survivors of child sexual abuse, according to Emma Hetherington, the clinic’s director. “The conference will explore collaboration between lawyers and social workers, and also partnerships with journalists, law enforcement and other stakeholders. Advocates for survivors of child sexual abuse must work together to promote healing and seek justice,” she said.  

The two-day conference will feature a keynote address by state of Maryland Delegate C.T. Wilson, who is known for his strong advocacy in the areas of child sexual abuse and statute of limitations reform. Wilson was featured in the Netflix documentary series “The Keepers” for his sponsorship of a state bill that raised the age by which survivors can sue from 25 to 38.

“As the first law school clinic in the nation to provide representation to survivors of child sex abuse in civil litigation and juvenile court dependency proceedings, the Wilbanks CEASE Clinic is uniquely positioned to respond to emerging local, state and national events, such as the #MeToo movement,” Hetherington said.

The conference will feature a panel examining the intersection between journalism and legal advocacy in the USA Gymnastics child sexual abuse lawsuits. The event will also include panels exploring mandated reporting laws and how agency partners can work together to better identify cases of child sexual abuse, and best practices in providing legal and therapeutic services for children who have experienced commercial and sexual exploitation.

Additionally, a trauma-informed termination of parental rights mock trial will be part of the programming. The mock trial will feature both law and social work students and will “address a gap that exists in preparing future lawyers and social workers for interprofessional practice in the courtroom,” according to Dr. Jennifer Elkins, associate professor at the UGA School of Social Work.

The Wilbanks CEASE Clinic is funded through the generosity of law school 1986 alumnus Marlan B. Wilbanks. The clinic not only provides direct representation to survivors but also serves as a teaching center at the law school. Through the clinic’s partnership with the School of Social Work, trauma-informed case management, referral and advocacy services are available.

For more information on the conference, please visit https://sites.google.com/ugacease.org/conference2018/home . All attendees are requested to register. Attendance for UGA faculty, staff and students is free. The cost for non-attorneys is $20, and the cost for attorneys seeking Continuing Legal Education credit for 7.5 hours, including 3 trial hours, is $40.

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Writer:  Heidi Murphy, 706-583-5487, hmurphy@uga.edu
Contact: Emma Hetherington, 706-369-5720, ehether@uga.edu

UGA School of Law
Established in 1859, the School of Law is consistently regarded as one of the nation’s top law schools. The school is proud of its longstanding commitment to preparing the next generation of legal leaders and ensuring a strong return on investment for its three degrees – the Juris Doctor, the Master of Laws and the Master in the Study of Law. The school’s accomplished faculty includes nationally and internationally renowned scholars, and its more than 10,000 living graduates are leading figures in law, business and public service throughout the world. Connecting students to these thought leaders and opportunities to serve state and society is central to the school’s mission. For more information, see www.law.uga.edu.