Have You Met Rutgers-Newark?

Expert on Juvenile Justice

Laura Cohen is director of the Criminal and Youth Justice Clinic, professor, and Justice Virginia Long Scholar at the School of Law—Newark where she teaches courses in juvenile justice. She also is a faculty member of the Criminal and Youth Justice Clinic.

Cohen has written on topics ranging from juvenile justice and parole to legal ethics and lawyering theory, with a particular focus on the legal representation of adolescents. Under her direction, the Criminal and Youth Justice Clinic has spearheaded several important amicus curiae efforts before the New Jersey Supreme Court in juvenile justice matters.

In 2013, Cohen was appointed as an expert consultant in the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s investigation of alleged systemic due process violations in St. Louis County, Missouri, juvenile court.  As a co-team leader for the New Jersey Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network, part of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change initiative, she implemented and now oversees the Post-Disposition Advocacy Project, an innovative clinical program that provides legal representation to incarcerated youth. Moreover, she co-directs the Northeast Juvenile Defender Center, a regional affiliate of the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC), which promotes justice for all children by ensuring excellence in juvenile defense.

In 2012, Cohen received the MacArthur Foundation’s “Champion for Change” award in recognition of her work with youth involved in the legal system. She also is the recipient of the NJDC’s Robert E. Shepherd Award for Excellence in Juvenile Defense and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey’s Legal Leadership Award.

In October 2014, Cohen and the Rutgers Criminal and Youth Justice Clinic were part of a team that helped free an innocent man after he spent 29 years in prison.

Cohen earned her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College and her juris doctor from Columbia Law School. Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty, she was the director of training for the New York City Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Division where she oversaw the attorney training program and public policy initiatives relating to child welfare and juvenile justice.