Children's Justice Clinic/Children’s Justice Attorney Education Program
Michelle Paxton joined Nebraska Law in April, 2017 to create and lead the newest clinical program, the Children’s Justice Clinic (CJC). Previously Ms. Paxton served as the Director of Legal Training at University of Nebraska’s Center on Children, Families, and the Law (CCFL). She develops curriculum and trains child welfare workers, probation officers, and mental health professionals on all aspects of juvenile court process and procedure in Nebraska. Through her work at CCFL, she came to realize that effective advocacy in juvenile court requires both an understanding of the law and appreciation of the complex dynamics of children, families, and stakeholders comprising the child welfare system. Ms. Paxton initiated the University of Nebraska College of Law and CCFL’s partnership to create a new clinical program wherein law students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively advocate for young children utilizing the training, support, and consultation from experts at CCFL. The CJC’s impact in her local community prompted Ms. Paxton to explore opportunities to ensure all children and families have access to high-quality representation in juvenile court. Ms. Paxton secured additional funding from private foundations to launch the Children’s Justice Attorney Education program. This new program targets attorneys in rural communities interested in working in juvenile court. Paxton partnered with Legal Aid of Nebraska to recruit an attorney to serve as the program’s Projector Manager. Michelle Paxton received her J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2002. Ms. Paxton has served as a Deputy County Attorney in Douglas and Lancaster Counties, specializing in juvenile law, domestic violence, and general criminal prosecution. She has presented comprehensively on all aspects regarding juvenile court including the Indian Child Welfare Act, Termination of Parental Rights, Expert Witness Testimony in Juvenile Court, and Observing Development in Young Children.