September 9, 2013 – NEW YORK, NY – Cardozo School of Law has announced a new opportunity for students to gain litigation experience, while providing direct representation to parents in high-stakes child neglect proceedings. The Gertrud Mainzer Family Defense Field Clinic is one of a small number of programs across the country in which students represent parents in abuse, neglect, and termination of parental rights proceedings. 

Every state is required by federal law to investigate allegations that children have been or are being abused and neglected. The overwhelming majority of such investigations, however, are not of incidents of actual harm but concern a parent’s lack of resources, access to services, and poverty that may place a child at risk.

Cardozo students will be working at The Bronx Defenders (BXD), which provides a unique model of holistic defense. The practice delivers comprehensive family court representation to parents charged with abuse and/or neglect who are potentially facing the termination of parental rights. They connect families to social services that strengthen and empower them, and view clients not as “cases” but as whole people.

Often, parents charged with abuse and neglect in Family Court are disproportionately poor, and separated from their children at alarming rates. Children languish in foster care while their parents, attempting to cope with the loss, are forced to comply with a multitude of demands and government agencies, all of whom claim to know “what is best” for them and their families—often destroying familial bonds and causing damage to individuals and the Bronx community.

Students will provide direct representation to parents in child neglect proceedings under the close supervision of an experienced attorney. They will work with social workers and parent advocates, and be paired with a family defense attorney to gain exposure to a diverse range of cases.  In an accompanying class, students will pore over case details, strategize, and study client experiences in the context of broader economic, racial and legal issues.

Students working at The Bronx Defenders will be available for interview, photo and video opportunities.

For more information contact:

Becky Rosenfeld, Director of Externships, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, 212.790.0894 or

Robin Steinberg, Executive Director, The Bronx Defenders, 718.838.7878 or