About the Blogger

Tamar Rebecca Birckhead is an associate professor of law and the Director of Clinical Programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she teaches the Juvenile Justice Clinic, the Criminal Lawyering Process, and Juvenile Courts and Delinquency. Her research interests focus on issues related to juvenile justice policy and reform, criminal law and procedure, indigent criminal defense, and the criminalization of poverty.  She will be a Visiting Clinical Professor of Law at Yale Law School in the 2016-17 academic year, teaching in the Criminal Justice Clinic and initiating a Juvenile Justice Clinic.

Professor Birckhead’s legal scholarship appears in the Buffalo Law Review, North Carolina Law Review, Rutgers Law Review, Wake Forest Law Review, Washington and Lee Law Review, and Washington University Law Review, among other law journals.  She also writes commentary, which has been published in the Los Angeles Times and The Nation, among other publications, and she is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.  Professor Birckhead has presented her work at Harvard Law School, George Washington Law School, Washington & Lee Law School, Brooklyn Law School, and the Law & Society Association, among other venues.

She co-edited the third edition of a casebook, Children, Parents, and the Law, with Professor Leslie J. Harris (Oregon). She is also an adjunct assistant professor at Duke Law School where she teaches a course on juvenile courts and delinquency during the spring semester.

Professor Birckhead’s article on raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction in North Carolina has received significant attention at both the state and national levels. She has published several opinion pieces on the subject of raising the age and has been interviewed by radio and print reporters across the state on her findings. She has testified before the N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission on the history of raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction, and Action for Children North Carolina, the state’s premier child advocacy organization, has issued white papers on her research. In addition, The Campaign for Youth Justice, a national organization dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under 18 in the adult criminal justice system, highlighted Professor Birckhead’s research in their newsletter and interviewed her for their weekly radio program, Juvenile Justice Matters.  The John Locke Foundation has also cited her work in its white paper endorsing raising the age in North Carolina.

Prior to joining the UNC School of Law faculty in 2004, Professor Birckhead practiced for ten years as a public defender, representing indigent criminal defendants in the Massachusetts trial and appellate courts as a staff attorney with the Committee for Public Counsel Services and in federal district court in Boston as an assistant federal public defender. Professor Birckhead has defended clients in a wide variety of criminal cases, from violent felony offenses in state court to acts of terrorism in federal court. Among her clients was Richard Reid, the attempted “Shoe Bomber” prosecuted in the First Circuit under the U.S.A. Patriot Act.

Licensed to practice in North Carolina, New York, and Massachusetts, Professor Birckhead has been a frequent lecturer at continuing legal education programs across the United States as well as a faculty member at the Trial Advocacy Workshop at Harvard Law School. She is both a board and an advisory committee member of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth.  She is president of the board for the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence and has been appointed to the executive council of the Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section of the North Carolina Bar Association. She is also a member of the advisory board for the North Carolina Juvenile Defender as well as a member of the Criminal Defense Section and the Juvenile Defender Section of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers. Professor Birckhead received her B.A. degree in English literature with honors from Yale University and her J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School, where she served as Recent Developments Editor of the Harvard Women’s Law Journal.

UNC Law profile 

Professor Birckhead’s scholarship and commentary, available for free download


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6 Responses to About the Blogger

  1. Muhammad Amir Munir says:

    Dear Prof Birckhead, its nice to see your blog. In fact, I being a judicial officer having powers to hear juvenile cases have great interest in juvenile justice policy and development of law. I have written few essays in Pakitani context. I have been teaching juvenile justice system ordinance 2000 to judicial officers / judges of juvenile courts at the Federal Judicial Academy (www.fja.gov.pk). I have also written some essays on TJ and JJSO.
    You may access my papers on SSRN at ssrn.com/author=670902. Particularly, following will be relevant for juveniles studies:

    http://ssrn.com/abstract=1922837 (Family Courts in Pakistan in Search of ‘Better Remedies’ for Women and Children)

    http://ssrn.com/abstract=1955252 (Juvenile Justice System Ordinance 2000)

    http://ssrn.com/abstract=1917748 (Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Legal Education in Pakistan: A Quest for Innovation in Study of Law to Mend Attitudes of Law Professionals Towards Litigants)

    http://ssrn.com/abstract=1951090 (Domestic Violence and the Pakistan Family Courts Act 1964 in Perspectives of Therapeutic Jurisprudence)

    Apart from these, I will further be uploading my writings on the issue.


    PhD Law Candidate at IIU, Islamabad
    (Civil Judge 1st Class/Judicial Magistrate s.30)
    Research Associate, Research Center, Lahore High Court
    Email: bionic4@hotmail.com
    Cell: +92-333-424.5294
    My articles can be accessed at http://ssrn.com/author=670902

    • tbirckhe says:

      Dear Judge Munir,

      Thanks so much for reading the blog and for reaching out. I will certainly check out your scholarship, as I am quite interested in the ways in which juvenile justice systems function in other countries.

  2. T.J. Parsell says:

    Please support my film about a teen housed in an adult prison. Please watch the trailer below and make a donation.


  3. Professor Birkhead – I appreciate what I’ve read from your blog so far. I’m an attorney with a committed pro bono practice and non-profit board/pro bono work in areas impacting at-risk children. I’m exploring ways to share and promote best practices and ideas, and would welcome the chance to communicate with you directly. Thanks and keep up the good work, Ken.

  4. Erin Sapp says:

    My name is Erin and I am friends with Nathan Ybanez, sentenced to JLWOP in CO in the late 1990’s. We are presently putting together a book of artwork and poetry featuring his art and poetry as well as the poetry of some of the members of the poetry group he leads within his prison and artwork by one other inmate.
    We have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise necessary funds for art supplies and the expense of shipping and scanning the artwork (as well as a copy of the book for all the inmates taking part).


    I am reaching out to supporters of Nathan, as well as supporters of juvenile justice for help promoting the book and Kickstarter and for suggestions on where else I can promote the campaign. I am using Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and reaching out to everyone I know who has supported and helped Nathan. I’m also reaching out to blogs and organizations which may be willing to post a link to the campaign.
    If you have any suggestions or would be willing to post the link or write a blurb about Nathan and his project, it would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks for your time,

    Erin Sapp

  5. I am a sophomore at Edina High School in Edina,MN. I am doing a project on juvenile crime and saw read your blog on juvenile law. I was wondering if you could take a minute and look at my website I made at the link provided. Any feedback would be great too, thanks.

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