Emma-Lee Clinger

  • Hosted by Legal Aid Society
  • Sponsored by Goldman, Sachs & Co., Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school Fordham University School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Emma-Lee targeted collateral consequences of juvenile arrests through direct representation, community education, and law reform so New York City youth can pursue higher education, employment, and professional licenses.

This project aimed to break down barriers to employment and education by enforcing New York Family Court Act’s protections and empowering New Yorkers with juvenile arrests to defend their rights against record-based discrimination.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Emma-Lee:

  • Represented 26 individuals in juvenile delinquency proceedings, including dispositional conferences and motions to seal and expunge
  • Advised 66 individuals with juvenile delinquency arrests and adjudications on the Family Court Act record-related protections relating to employment and higher education
  • Successfully challenged criminal history reports that contained erroneous juvenile records
  • Successfully appealed employment and benefit denials based on juvenile record discrimination
  • Conducted trainings on the New York Family Court Act post-dispositional protections and record-related provisions for New York City legal and non-profit organizations that represent people impacted by the criminal and juvenile legal systems
  • Established a collaborative relationship with New York City and State agencies resulting in policy changes that ensure juvenile record accuracy and protection
  • Drafted and advocated for the New York State Juvenile Confidentiality and Expungement Bill, introduced in the New York State Senate in the 2021-2022 Legislative Session

Next Steps

Emma-Lee will represent young New Yorkers in delinquency and criminal proceedings in New York City Family Court and Criminal Court at The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice. She will support the post-dispositional practice at the Juvenile Rights Practice through the Set the Record Straight Project, where she will train attorneys, social workers, impacted communities, and other members of the juvenile legal system on juvenile record-related protections. In addition, she will continue to work toward statutory law reform, advocating for stricter juvenile record protections.


The Beating Heart of Legal Aid

Two Stein Scholars Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowships

As a former high school teacher, I have witnessed how an arrest stemming from the purported rehabilitative system of delinquency court can stifle the ability of a young person to access employment, licenses, or higher education—the very opportunities that would propel them from a life rooted in poverty, stigma, and recidivism.

Emma-Lee Clinger /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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