Delco re:View Fall 2017 - 31

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"System Change:
Youth Court and Time Banks."

T

his session highlighted work in systems change, and explored programs helping the neediest among us such as
time banking and youth court. All funds collected for the
CLE were donated to Legal Aid of Southeast Pennsylvania.
Presenter: David K. Trevaskis, Esq., an attorney and former
third grade teacher with a Master's Degree in Education. He is
the Pro Bono Coordinator for Legal Services for the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA), responsible for assisting local bar
associations, legal services programs and other groups who offer
pro bono legal services across the Commonwealth to help improve the access to justice for the neediest among us. His work in
poverty law informs his teaching.
Edgar Cahn, systems change and youth court were the interconnected themes of a celebration of pro bono Monday, August
28th at the Delaware County Bar Association headquarters in
Media when Delco Judge Nathaniel Nichols, youth court guru
Gregg Volz and Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Coordinator David Trevaskis presented a unique CLE for twenty local
lawyers.
Trevaskis began the program sharing stories of Edgar Cahn, a
1956 Swarthmore College graduate who worked in the Kennedy
Justice Department after he graduated from Yale with both a law
degree and a PhD in English. Cahn, along with his late first wife,
Swarthmore College and Yale Law alumnae Jean Camper Cahn,
believed that the poor needed access to lawyers. They wrote a
law review article that led to the creation of the first legal services programs and eventually the creation in 1974 of the Legal
Services Corporation which has provided legal aid to 50 million
citizens since its inception. See War on Poverty: A Civilian Perspective, 73 YALE LAW JOURNAL 1317 (1964).

Both Cahns believed in systems change and Edgar, still active
in his 80s, has promoted youth courts as a means of changing the
juvenile justice system and breaking up the school to prison pipeline. Youth courts are student-run alternatives to juvenile justice
and school disciplinary systems. Students are trained by lawyers,
law students, law and justice professionals and teachers to perform all court functions (judge, bailiff, jurors, etc.). Positive peer
pressure helps offenders reflect on their behavior, recognize that
actions have consequences, and accept responsibility.
Neuroscience informs us that the stress and trauma disadvantaged youth experience impairs their decision making and
impulse control. Absent nurturing relationships with stable
adults, some youth fail to acquire the executive function skills
to cope with their environment. Teachers confirm such youth
have problems following instructions and socializing. Without
effective intervention they fall behind, becoming a danger to
themselves and their community. Youth court participation in
under-resourced schools improves life outcomes for these youth.
Youth court participation in well-resourced schools helps educate
the next generation of social justice leaders.
Gregory Volz, Esq., shared his experience since 2006 with
youth courts in the Chester schools and he talked about youth
courts he has developed in partnerships with such entities as
Swarthmore College, local law schools, the U.S. Attorney's
Office, and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He encouraged
session attendees to get involved by observing youth courts in
action, by adopting schools with youth courts and by being part
of youth court training teams.
The Honorable Nathaniel C. Nichols started his part of the
program by underscoring the significant consequences for young
people of involvement in the juvenile justice system, many consequences unintended that create hurdles for future employment
and education. He shared his experience observing youth involved in Edgar Cahn's youth courts in the District of Columbia
and he talked about the importance of finding a way to reconnect
young people with society in positive ways.

*

David K. Trevaskis, Esq.
Pro Bono Coordinator, Pennsylvania Bar Association
100 South St., Harrisburg, PA 17101
P: 800.932.0311, ext. 2236 F: 717.238.7182
Email: David.Trevaskis@pabar.org
Web: http://www.pabar.org/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/pennsylvaniabar-association
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaBarAssn
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/pabarassn

Fall 2017

| 31


http://www.DelcoBar.org http://www.pabar.org/ https://www.linkedin.com/company/pennsylvania https://www.facebook.com/PaBarAssn https://www.twitter.com/pabarassn

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