FACULTY PROFILE Diane Geraghty
Pioneer in child and family law
Diane Geraghty is Loyola’s A. Kathleen Beazley Chair in Children’s Law and director of the School of Law’s internationally acclaimed Civitas ChildLaw Center. She also serves as co-director of Loyola’s Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice. Professor Geraghty’s teaching, scholarship, and service focus on all aspects of the law as it affects children and families. She is a highly regarded leader and consultant in legal education matters and children’s rights in Africa and Asia, and is the recipient of numerous awards for her contributions to children's law.
What do you like best about teaching at Loyola?
There are so many things that I love about teaching at Loyola, but at the top of my list is the ability to help shape the professional lives of future leaders of our profession. I am fortunate to have been teaching long enough to see former students actively using their legal education to influence the future course of the law in ways that positively affect the lives of children and communities.
You cofounded Loyola’s Civitas Childlaw Center in 1993. How has the ChildLaw Center evolved in the past 25 years to prepare students to meet today’s unique interdisciplinary challenges of representing child clients?
When we began the Civitas ChildLaw Center, the study of child and family law was in its nascent stage. Over the years, Loyola has played a key role in transforming children’s law and policy into a robust and well-respected area of professional specialization. Although the Civitas ChildLaw Center has grown and expanded its reach over the course of the last 25 years, our core mission remains the same – to marshal the multidisciplinary resources of a major urban Jesuit university to improve the quality of justice for children and families.
In addition to a solid legal education, what professional qualities are important to becoming an effective advocate for children?
I don’t differentiate between the skills needed to become an effective lawyer for children and any other group of clients. In addition to legal competency, tenacity, lifelong learning, and high ethical standards are essential attributes for all attorneys. Having said that, direct representation of society’s most vulnerable citizens can take an emotional toll on attorneys. Effective antidotes include a strong commitment to the work and intentional self-care.
“Over the years, Loyola has played a key role in transforming children’s law and policy into a robust and well-respected area of professional specialization.” — Diane Geraghty, A. Kathleen Beazley Chair in Children’s Law
What is Loyola’s role in protecting the universal rights of all children?
In 1989 the United Nations adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although the United States is not a party to the treaty, we have modeled our work on the principles set out in the Convention. These include recognition of the family as the most important unit in a child’s life; a guarantee of safety, security, and equality for all children without regard to background; and a commitment to ensuring a developmentally-appropriate voice for children in all decisions that affect the future course of their lives. We moved a step closer to advancing our role in protecting the universal rights of children when Loyola’s Center for the Human Rights of Children formally became part of the Civitas ChildLaw Center. The Center’s focus on human trafficking and health care as a human right adds a new dimension to our work.
What makes Loyola University Chicago the best law school in the country for children’s law and policy?
Fortunately, today there are many good law schools working in the children’s law and policy space, often led by graduates of the Civitas ChildLaw Center. Having said that, my colleagues and I are enormously proud of the fact that we have been named as the top child and family law program in the nation. Elements of that success include a nationally-recognized faculty, an unwavering commitment on the part of the University and Law School for our mission, and a critical mass of JD, MJ, and LLM students committed to improving the lives of vulnerable children and families.