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Headshot of Sam Lawrence

Sam Lawrence

  • Hosted by The Just Sentencing Project at Duke Law's Wilson Center
  • Sponsored by The Clorox Company Foundation, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
  • Service location Durham, North Carolina
  • Law school Duke University School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth
  • Fellowship class year 2024
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Sam (he/him/his) will represent children incarcerated in North Carolina’s juvenile prisons by creating holistic reentry plans and advocating for early release.

The right to counsel for children does not include the post-disposition phase of the case. As a result, most children who are sent to prison never speak to a lawyer while they are there. Children do not have a legal advocate to make sure they are getting the educational and therapeutic services that they need. Children do not have a lawyer to advocate for them if they have done everything right in prison and have a strong case for release. Children often feel forgotten. This project is designed to begin filling this gap.

Before law school Sam worked at a holistic youth defender’s office in New Orleans and as a therapist in North Carolina. The children and families who he worked with, along with the lawyers and social workers who zealously advocated on their behalf, inspired him to become a lawyer for incarcerated children.

Fellowship Plans

Sam will visit children in juvenile prisons across North Carolina, listen to their experiences and assess their legal needs. He will select a caseload of children who need additional advocacy to ensure that they are receiving individualized educational and therapeutic services. He will attend their Service Plan Meetings and advocate on their behalf. Sam will also identify a caseload of children who have strong cases for early release. He will use his social work background to craft holistic reentry plans with his clients and their families, building on their internal strengths and connecting them to additional support in the community. Sam will present these reentry plans to judges and other stakeholders as concrete alternatives to incarceration through which these children can return home and thrive in their communities.

Meet Other Fellows Like Sam

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Photo of Maria Rodriguez

Maria Rodriguez

Host: Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)

Sponsor: Fish & Richardson P.C., Microsoft Corporation

Photo of Victoria Porell

Tori Porell

Host: East Bay Children’s Law Offices

Sponsor: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation

Photo of Elizabeth Lincoln

Elizabeth Lincoln

Host: Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)

Sponsor: Microsoft Corporation, The Sidley Austin Foundation

Headshot of Tracie Johnson

Tracie Johnson

Host: Community Legal Services of Philadelphia

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP