Shin Directs William & Mary Law School’s Special Education Advocacy Clinic

  • An Effective Advocate for Children
    An Effective Advocate for Children  Crystal Shin was drawn to W&M's Special Education Advocacy Clinic because of its strong reputation and dedicated students.  Photo by David F. Morrill
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William & Mary Law School announces the appointment of Crystal Shin to its faculty for the Fall 2014 semester. Shin has served since June as the Visiting Professor of Practice and Managing Attorney of the Parents Engaged for Learning Equality (PELE) Special Education Advocacy Clinic.

Shin comes to William & Mary after working for the JustChildren program through the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville, Va., where she spent the last three-and-a-half years representing numerous special education clients. She also worked for the past three-and-a-half years as an adjunct professor with the Child Advocacy Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Law.

“Our Clinical programs are so effective because of our highly qualified and dedicated faculty like Professor Shin,” said Davison M. Douglas, Dean and Arthur B. Hanson Professor of Law. “Under her direction, the PELE clinic will continue to play a major role in ensuring that children with special needs obtain the education they are entitled to under the law, and the Institute in Special Education Advocacy will continue to train attorneys, advocates and law students to do this important work nationwide.”

Shin received her B.A. and J.D. from the University of Virginia, where she was the 2010 recipient of the Margaret G. Hyde Award, given to an outstanding member of the graduating class whose scholarship, character, personality, activities in the affairs of the school, and promise of efficiency have, in the opinion of the law faculty, entitled him or her to special recognition.

Prior to attending law school, Shin was a fourth grade science and social studies teacher in Henderson, N.C., through Teach For America. She credits her Teach For America students as her inspiration and motivation to study law, and still keeps in touch with many of them through visits, calls, and text messages.  

“Crystal is a passionate and effective advocate for children, particularly those with special needs,” said Paul G. Mahoney, Dean and David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law and Arnold H. Leon Professor of Law of the University of Virginia School of Law. “She will be an excellent addition to William & Mary’s outstanding faculty.”

The Special Education Advocacy Clinic was formed in 2009 to assist special-needs children and their families with eligibility or Individualized Education Program meetings, discipline matters, mediation, and administrative hearings. The clinic is designed to bolster the partnership between families and schools, by working collaboratively to ensure that each child receives the necessary assistance to meet his or her individual needs in school.

Under Shin’s supervision, law students will continue to offer their services to families at no charge. The clinic relies on law school and private donor support to assist families.

“Crystal Shin is a fearless and determined child advocate who will bring insight and compassion to the PELE Special Education Advocacy Clinic,” said Alex R. Gulotta, former Executive Director of the Legal Aid Justice Center, and current Executive Director of Bay Area Legal Aid in San Francisco.

Shin not only looks forward to helping families in the Williamsburg, Newport News, and Hampton, Va., communities, but to making sure William & Mary law students get a solid grounding in practical experience through their clinical work.

“I enjoy supervising students because I enjoy playing a small part in their legal training,” Shin said. “I was drawn to the PELE clinic because of its strong reputation and passionate students.”

Shin replaces Professor Patricia Roberts, the Law School’s Clinical Programs Director who now directs the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic.

“I look forward to continuing Professor Roberts’ great work, as well as looking for ways to expand PELE’s impact and services,” Shin said. “Moving forward, I plan to expand the types of cases we accept in order to get our law students in court. I think many 3L students would appreciate an opportunity to use their third-year practice certificates while also aiding children with their special education needs.”

About William & Mary Law School

Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.