The Catholic University of America



Professor Faith Mullen Urges Child
Welfare Lawyers to See the Value of Case Theory

Behind every child welfare case is a story, of a family, a child, or a situation. The details of the stories matter and should weigh in the ultimate disposition of the case.

In a nutshell, that was Catholic University Assistant Clinical Professor Faith Mullen’s message to more than 500 colleagues at the 35th National Child Welfare, Juvenile, and Family Law Conference, held in Chicago Aug. 14-16.

The conference, titled “Families Matter: Advocacy for All Parties in the Child’s Best Interests,” brought together child welfare lawyers and legal educators for plenary sessions that covered a wide range of topics.
Mullen, who often writes about access-to-justice issues and the use of story to improve lawyer performance, co-presented “Story-Telling & Lawyering: Changing the Narrative in Child Welfare” along with Professor Matthew Fraidin, an associate professor of law with the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law.
“I spoke about how case theory—a mix of law and story that explains the legal theory and factual background, but also ties as much of the evidence as possible into a credible whole—plays an essential role in child welfare cases,” said Mullen.
“I talked about why lawyers are reluctant to tell stories in bench trials, but how stories will be told anyway. I also talked about the research about four elements that make stories persuasive.”
The presentation builds on Mullen’s work on the use of storytelling to improve performance of law students, which was published in the Clinical Law Review (Vol. 18/No.1 - Fall 2011).