The power imbalance in juvenile legal proceedings is so lopsided that children and families are routinely overpowered and intimidated by administratively convenient processes and outcomes. I fully understand (and at times envy) the zealous legal advocate who champions his young client's cause and "makes the system pay." But I have found over my years of Community Lawyering that zealous advocacy can become so critical of institutional error that it bums problem solving relationships and destroys the chance to negotiate for mutual gain and structural reform. Zealous advocacy can win at the detention hearing and force the juvenile justice system to release a dangerous child who poses a severe risk to himself or to the community. Zealous legal services can provide the "cure" that kills the patient, especially if the child proceeds to use his freedom to injure himself or others.
Community Lawyering in the Juvenile Cellblock: Creative Uses of Legal Problems Solving to Reconcile Competing Narratives on Prosecutorial Abuse, Juvenile Criminality, and Public Safety,
2007 J. Disp. Resol.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/jdr/vol2007/iss2/2