Florida's Children First

Bernard P. Perlmutter, Esq. – Director Emeritus


University of Miami School of Law – Children & Youth Law Clinic
Miami, Florida



Bernard P. Perlmutter is Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director of the Children & Youth Law Clinic, an in-house legal clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. In addition to his teaching duties at the Clinic, Professor Perlmutter teaches classes in Children and the Law, Family Law, Transnational Family Law, and New Directions in Lawyering: Interviewing, Counseling and Attorney-Client Relational Skills.

At the UM Children & Youth Law Clinic, Professor Perlmutter trains and supervises second- and third-year law students who handle cases involving abused, abandoned and neglected children and adolescents in a variety of legal proceedings, including dependency and foster care, delinquency, public benefits, health care, mental health, disability, education and immigration, in addition to appellate, legislative and administrative advocacy and law reform litigation. He and the Clinic represented the petitioner M.W. before the Florida Supreme Court in the landmark case of M.W. v. Davis & DCF, which resulted in the Court’s adoption of a rule that establishes due process protections, including pre-commitment hearings and the right to counsel, for foster children committed to psychiatric facilities by the state Department of Children & Families. He has litigated numerous federal and state court class action lawsuits seeking to reform Florida’s foster care system. He has submitted amicus curiae briefs in a number of cases of national significance, including Roper v. Simmons (juvenile death penalty), GAL v. S.C. (foster child’s right to medical records privacy), DCF v. Statewide Advocacy Council (advocacy council’s access to confidential records held by Department of Children & Families), and cases affecting older foster children, immigrant children and disabled children.

Professor Perlmutter has published law review articles on the due process rights of foster children facing commitment to psychiatric facilities, the use of therapeutic jurisprudence in clinical legal education, and the constitutionality of shackling children in juvenile court.  He was appointed by the President of the Florida Bar to serve on the Florida Bar Commission on the Legal Needs of Children, has served on the Boards of Directors of Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, and the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) National Children’s Law Office Project Advisory Board. He has also served on the Florida Bar Legal Needs of Children Committee, Juvenile Court Rules Committee, and the Public Interest Law Section Legal Needs of Children Committee.  He currently chairs the Florida Bar Children’s Law Board Certification Standards Committee.

Professor Perlmutter was formerly a staff attorney at Legal Services of Greater Miami. While on a leave of absence from Legal Services, he served as the Director of the Children’s Law Project in the Civil Law Clinic at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center.

Professor Perlmutter has received the National Association of Counsel for Children’s 2003 Outstanding Legal Advocacy Award, the Clinical Legal Education Association’s 2003 Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Law Case or Project, two Florida Bar Foundation Steven M. Goldstein First Runner-Up Awards for Excellence (in 2001 and 2003), and the Florida Bar Public Interest Law Section’s Honorable Hugh S. Glickstein Child Advocacy Award, given to the members of the Florida Bar Commission on the Legal Needs of Children in 2002.  In 2005 Professor Perlmutter received the C. Clyde Atkins Civil Liberties Award from the Greater Miami Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the inaugural Miami-Dade County Children’s Trust Champion for Children Award, and the Mental Health Advocate of the Year Award from the Florida Statewide Advocacy Council.   In 2007 he was presented the Richard Hausler Professor of the Year Award by the University of Miami School of Law Society of Bar and Gavel.

Professor Perlmutter has a B.A. from Bennington College, did graduate work in English and Comparative Literature at Brandeis University, and received his J.D. cum laude from the UM School of Law.


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