Crystal Grant portrait

Crystal Grant

When Duke Law professor Crystal Grant became director of Duke’s Children’s Law Clinic in 2020, the clinic got more than a legal expert. Grant is also a social worker, and she saw an opportunity to start helping families with non-legal needs.

“In a lot of our cases there are issues that come up that aren’t squarely legal, and in the past we might have turned away a family,” Grant said at the time. The Children’s Clinic provides free legal advice, advocacy and representation to low-income, at-risk children.

To help more people, Grant has created partnerships with medical and social work spheres. These partnerships have not only helped the clinic meet more needs but also have allowed the law students participating in the clinic to work with people in other fields.

Grant and supervising attorney Peggy Nicholson work with the students in the clinic, one of 12 offered to students at Duke Law School. The clinics allows students to get real-life experience while still in school.

The Children’s Clinic is an obvious fit for Grant and her background in child advocacy work. Before coming to Duke, she was at the Pediatric Advocacy Clinic at the University of Michigan; practiced public interest law with Disability Rights Michigan; and has represented children and their families in hearings and court.

Her work for families has ranged from individualized education plans, to trauma-informed care, to bullying.

Examples of work at the clinic include how discipline at charter schools in North Carolina affects children of color and rights for children with disabilities.

“One of the groups of children that are disproportionately impacted by low school funding are children with disabilities,” Grant told NC Health News in a story about how schools face challenges hiring special education teachers.