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Laura Cohen photo
J.D., Columbia
B.A., Rutgers
Criminal and Youth Justice Clinic, Juvenile Justice Seminar

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Laura Cohen

Clinical Professor of Law, Justice Virginia Long Scholar, and Director of the Criminal and Youth Justice Clinic

Professor Cohen earned her B.A. summa cum laude from Rutgers College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and her J.D. from Columbia, where she was managing editor of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. 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. She also served as Deputy Court Monitor for the U.S. District Court, District of Puerto Rico in Morales Feliciano v. Hernandez Colon, a federal class action challenging conditions of confinement in Puerto Rico’s prisons; Senior Policy Analyst for the Violence Institute of New Jersey; and staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Division in the Bronx. 

Professor 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. In 2013, she 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 oversees the Post-Disposition Advocacy Project, an innovative clinical program that provides legal representation to incarcerated youth. In addition, she co-directs the Northeast Juvenile Defender Center, a regional affiliate of the National Juvenile Defender Center.  

Under Professor Cohen’s direction, her clinic has spearheaded several important amicus curiae efforts before the New Jersey Supreme Court in juvenile justice matters. These include State in the Interest of V.A., 212 N.J. 1(2012) (imposing a higher judicial review standard of prosecutorial decisions to try juveniles in adult court) and State in the Interest of P.M.P., 200 N.J. 166 (2009) (establishing that the right to counsel attaches at the time a juvenile delinquency petition is filed).

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


“Introduction: When the Law Is Guilty: Confronting the Mass Incarceration Crisis in the United States,” 66 Rutgers L. Rev. ___ (2014)

“Extending the Guiding Hand: Incarcerated Youth, Law School Clinics, and Expanding Access to Counsel,” 17 U. PA. J. L. & Soc. Change 401 (2014)

“Freedom’s Road: Youth, Parole, and the Promise of Miller v. Alabama and Graham v. Florida,” 35  Cardozo L. Rev. 1031 (2014)

Book Review, Christopher Slobogin and Mark R. Fondacaro, Juveniles at Risk: A Plea for Preventive Justice, Rutgers Criminal Law / Criminal Justice Book Reviews (Spring 2012), available at www.clcjbooks.rutgers.edu

“Righting the Wronged: Causes, Effects, and Remedies of Juvenile Wrongful Conviction – Introduction,” 62 Rutgers L. Rev. 879 (Summer 2010)

“New Hope Found in Practice Standards,” ABA Criminal Justice Magazine (Winter 2009)

The Gault Case and Young People’s Rights: Debating Supreme Court Decision (Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2006)

“Kids Will Be Kids: Interviewing and Counseling Adolescent Clients,” 79 Temple L. Rev. 357 (2006) (with Randi Mandelbaum)