Meet the Faculty

Full-Time Faculty

William W. Patton

Professor of Law

  • B.A., Long Beach State University
  • M.A., University of California, Los Angeles
  • J.D., University of California, Los Angeles

Contact Information

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Tel. 714.444.4141 ext. 220
Fax. 714.444.1854
Building Two, Room 220

Professor Patton joined the Whittier Law School faculty in 1984 after teaching several years at UCLA Law School. His primary research interest is at the intersection of juvenile law, ethics, and forensic child and adolescent psychiatry which he teaches at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. He has testified as an expert witness, argued several cases in the California Supreme Court, authored many legislative analyses and testified often in various state legislatures regarding pending legislation involving the psychological and jurogenic effects of the legal system on children.

Professor Patton previously served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Dean for Clinical Programs, Assistant Dean of Students, and Externship Director. He has also served as the law school faculty representative to the College Board of Trustees, on the Board of Trustees Academic Affairs Committee, and on Law School Management Committee. He has been the Chair of the AALS Externship Committee and is currently the Chair-Elect of the AALS Section on Children and the Law.

Professor Patton has advocated for children for more than thirty years. He started his legal career as a public defender where he represented children in juvenile delinquency, parental termination, and mental health cases (see, e.g., In re Deborah C., 30 Cal. 3d 125, 177 Cal. Rptr. 852; In the Matter of Bryan S., 168 Cal. Rptr. 556; In re Issac G., 156 Cal. Rptr. 123). While at UCLA Law School he taught in the Child Abuse Clinic and supervised law students in representing clients in the child dependency courts. Professor Patton is the Founding Director of the Whittier Law School Center for Children’s Rights, and he serves on the Board of Directors of the non-profit law firm, Los Angeles Dependency Attorneys.

Books and Book Chapters

  • Legal Ethics in Child Custody and Dependency Cases: A Guide for Judges and Lawyers (Cambridge University Press 2006)
  • Juvenile Law and its Processes: Cases and Materials, 3RD Ed. (Lexis 2003) with Francis Barry McCarthy and Judge James G. Caar
  • Teacher’s Manual for Juvenile Law and its Processes, 3RDEd. (Lexis 2003)
  • Siblings in Adoption and Foster Care: Traumatic Separations and Honored Connections, Chapter 5: The Rights of Siblings in Foster Care and Adoption: A Legal Perspective, (Praeger, 2009)
  • MacMillan Encyclopedia of Education, 2ND Ed. (2002), (1) The History of Child Protective Services; (2) Contemporary Child Protective Services; (3) The History of the Juvenile Justice System; and (4) The Contemporary Juvenile Justice System . Now published online at the \“Education Encyclopedia-State University\”:
  • California Law Summaries, Part IV (BRC, Inc., 1984).


  • The Psychiatric And Legal Implications Of Media Ethics Codes Regarding The Publication of Child Abuse Victim Data: A Proposed Deontological Model Code [to be published in 16 U. C. Davis J. of Juv. L. & Policy, Issue 2, Summer 2012];
  • Connecticut’s Failed Open Juvenile Dependency Court Pilot Project: Presumptively Open Juvenile Court Doors Closed Again To Protect Abused Children, 11 J. of Child and Fam. Adv. 85 (2011);
  • Getting Back to the Sandbox: Designing A Legal Policy Clinic, 16 International Journal of Clinical Legal Education 96 (2011);
    Open Dependency Courts Will Hurt Our Children, LADJ, November 16, 2011;
  • Viewing Child Witnesses Through A Child And Adolescent Psychiatric Lens: How Attorneys’ Ethical Duties Exacerbate Children’s Psychopathology, 16 Widener Law School Symposium on Child Witnesses 369 (2010).
  • When The Empirical Base Crumbles: The Myth That Open Dependency Proceedings Do Not Psychologically Damage Abused Children, 33 Univ. of Alabama L. & Psych. Rev. 29 (2009).
  • To Err Is Human, To Forgive, Often Unjust: Harmless Error Analysis In Child Dependency Proceeding, 100 U. C. Davis J. of Juv. L. & Policy 99 (2008).
  • Rethinking The Privilege Against Self-Incrimination In Child Abuse Dependency Proceedings: Might Parents Be Their Own Worst Witnesses?, 11 U.C. Davis J. of Juv. L. & Policy 101 (2007).
  • The Whittier Law School Legal Policy Clinic’s Amicus Curiae Advocacy On Behalf Of Siblings, 5 Journal of Child and Family Advocacy 449 (2006).
  • The Connecticut Open-Court Movement: Reflection and Remonstration, Connecticut Public Interest L. J., Fall 2005
  • The Reality of Concurrent Planning: Juggling Multiple Family Plans Expeditiously Without Sufficient Resources, 9 U.C. Davis J. of Juv. L. & Policy 171 (2005).
  • An Empirical Rebuttal To The Open Juvenile Dependency Court Reform Movement, 38 Suffolk Univ. L. Rev. 303 (2005).
  • The Interrelationship Between Sibling Custody and Visitation and Conflicts Of Interest in the Representation Of Multiple Siblings in Dependency Proceedings, 3 Children’s Legal Rights Journal 18 (2003).
  • Juveniles in the Criminal Justice System: A Prescription for the Defense, 1 Criminal Defense Weekly Issue 20 (2002).
  • Creating an Externship Consortium: The Glace Experience, 4 J. of Prac. & Clinical L. 233 (2001).
  • The Status of Siblings’ Rights: A View Into The New Millennium, 51 De Paul L. Rev. 201 (2001).
  • Pandora’s Box: Opening Child Protection Cases To The Press and Public, 27 W.S.L. Rev. 181 (2000).
  • Mommy’s Gone, Daddy’s In Prison, Now What About Me? Family Reunification For Children Of Single Custodial Fathers In Prison – Will The Sins Of Incarcerated Fathers Be Inherited By Their Children?, 75 North Dakota L. Rev. 179 (1999).
  • Biblical, Legal, and Miltonic Influences in Melville’s Redburn, 23 Oklahoma City Univ. L. Rev. 911 (1999).
  • The California Child Abuse Hearsay Exception: Is Truth Competency Still Required?, 3 U.C. Davis J. of Juv. L. & Policy 68 (1999).
  • Searching for the Proper Role of Children’s Counsel in California Dependency Cases: The Answer of the Dependency Sphinx, 1 J. Of The Center For Children, Families And The Courts 21 (1999).
  • In re Car [a child protection case], published in Negotiation Simulation Exercises, 1999 (Willamette University College of Law Center For Dispute Resolution, 1999)
  • Legislative Regulation of Dependency Court Attorneys: Public Relations and Separation of Powers, 24 Notre Dame J. of Legislation 1 (1998).
  • Who Speaks For The Child in Abuse Cases: Autonomy or Best Interests?, 40 Orange County Lawyer 40 (1998).
  • S.B. 1516, California’s New Hybrid: Children’s Counsel As Advocates And Guardians Ad Litem, 2 U.C. Davis J. of Juv. L. and Policy 16 (1997).
  • Children Are Invisible, Children Are Real: An Introduction To The Child Law Symposium, 18 Whittier L. Rev. 759 (1997).
  • Externship Site Inspections: Fitting Well-Rounded Programs Into The Four Corners Of The ABA Guidelines, 3 N.Y.U. Clinical L. Rev. 471 (1997).
  • Standards Of Appellate Review For Denial Of Counsel And Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel In Child Dependency And Parental Severance Cases, 27 Loyola Univ. Chicago L. J. 195 (1996).
  • An Opening Gambit In Teaching Juvenile Law: Creating Icons of Normative Family Structures, 20 Univ. of Alabama Law & Psychology Review 1 (1996).
  • Publication, Depublication And Review Of State Bar Court Opinions: Bringing The Public Into The Process, 17 Whittier L. Rev. 409 (1996).
  • Severing Hansel from Gretel: An Analysis of Siblings’ Association Rights, 48 Univ. Miami L. Rev. 745 (1994).
  • Law Schools’ Duty to Train Children’s Advocates: Blueprint for an Inexpensive Experientially Based Juvenile Justice Course, 45 Juv.& Family Ct. J. 3 (1994).
  • Child Abuse: The Irreconcilable Differences Between Criminal Prosecution and Informal Dependency Court Mediation, 31 Univ. of Louisville J. of Family Law 37 (1992-1993).
  • Evolution In Child Abuse Litigation: The Theoretical Void Where Evidentiary And Procedural Worlds Collide, 25 Loyola of Los Angeles L. Rev. 1009 (1992).
  • It Matters Not What Is But What Might Have Been: The Standard of Appellate Review For Denial Of Counsel In Child Dependency And Parental Severance Trials, 12 Whittier L. Rev. 537 (1991).
  • Opening Students’ Eyes: Visual Learning Theory In The Socratic Classroom, 15 Univ. of Alabama Law and Psychology Review 1 (1991).
  • The World Where Parallel Lines Converge: The Privilege Against Self-Incrimination In Concurrent Civil and Criminal Child Abuse Proceedings, 24 Georgia L. Rev. 473 (1990).
  • Forever Torn Asunder: Charting Evidentiary Parameters, The Right To Competent Counsel And The Privilege Against Self-Incrimination In California Child Dependency And Parental Severance Cases, 27 Santa Clara L. Rev. 299 (1987).
  • How Shepard’s Citations Lost Its Flock: Or, Can The Police Smell Probable Cause?, 80 Law Library Journal 131 (1988).
  • Individual Privacy Versus Public Access: Recent Developments in Rights of Litigants and Public Employees, Los Angeles County Bar Association,June 19, 2012;
  • Media Ethics and the Reporting on Child Victims, AALS Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2012, Section on Children and the Law;
  • A Rebuttal To Superior Court Blanket Order Regarding Welfare & Institutions Code § 346 Confidentiality of Juvenile Court Proceedings and Records [Nov. 21, 2011, CCR Colloquium];
  • The Role of Clinics in Mobilizing and Changing Law, UCLA School of Law & the London Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Conference, Complex Clinical Clients: Lawyering Beyond Individual Clients, November 4, 2010;
  • Clearing Conflicts in a Clinic Setting While Assisting Highly Vulnerable Clients, Los Angeles County Bar Association, October 27, 2010;
  • Getting Back to the Sandbox: Cognitive Psychology and Persistence In Pro Bono Publico Activities, The Eighth International Clinical Legal Education Conference, Northumbria University-Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, July 8, 2010;
  • The Role of Cognitive Psychology in Designing Clinical Courses (New York Law School, March 19, 2010).
  • Meeting the Needs of Children During Times of Crisis: Hurricane Katrina and Beyond, Medical and Psychiatric Issues, Moderator and discussant, AALS Annual Conference, Section on Children and the Law, 2010
  • Ethical and Psychiatric Implications of Hybrid Attorney/GAL Advocates For Abused Children, San Bernardino Juvenile Court MCLE Ethics Training, October 20, 2009
  • Prophylactic Protections For Child Witnesses, Widener Law School Symposium on Child Witnesses, April 9, 2009
  • The Intersections Among Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Ethics, and Separation of Powers, Widener Law School Symposium on Child Witnesses, 2009
  • Lawyers As Snitches, Ethics MCLE training session, Los Angeles Juvenile Court, Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers, December 10, 2008
  • Boot Camp: Forensic Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Law, UCLA Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, November 13, 2008
  • The Discretion to Disclose Client Confidences, WLS Alumni, October 14, 2008
  • Practical Ethics for Externship Supervisors, Greater Los Angeles Consortium on Externships (GLACE), Southwestern Law School, September 25, 2008
  • Pediatric Psychiatric Implications of Open Child Abuse Proceedings, WLS Faculty colloquia, September 16, 2008
  • Successive Versus Concurrent Conflicts of Interest and the Duty of Loyalty, WLS Alumni Luncheon Lecture, July 22, 2008
  • Clinic Administrators’ Roles Throughout the Semester, Mountain West Regional Clinical Conference, 2007
  • Legal Ethics in Child Abuse Litigation, San Bernardino Juvenile Bar Association, 2007
  • Confidentiality and the Fifth Amendment in Juvenile Proceedings, Los Angeles Juvenile Bar Association, February 2006
  • Debunking Sunshine: Open Child Dependency Proceedings, University of Connecticut, November17, 2004
  • A View Into the Dependency Legal Maelstrom Through An Ethical Lens, Los Angeles Juvenile Court 9th Annual A New Beginning Conference, L. A. Convention Center, October 29, 2004
  • Child Abuse Victims Re-Victimized By The Legal System, Univ. of Suffolk Law School Symposium: Beyond Prosecution: Sexual Assault Victim’s Rights In Theory and Practice, April 16, 2004
  • The Evils of AB 2627: An Empirical and Policy Rebuttal, National Association of Counsel For Children Southern California Chapter, April 2004
  • Confidentiality v. Openness In Child Protection Court Hearings, The Legacy Family Institute and the Every Child Matters Education Fund, web cast seminar broadcast on May 12, 2004
  • Televised debate, Should Dependency Court Proceedings Be Open To The Public?, INSIDE JUSTICE, sponsored by the California Judicial Council, Jan. 2004
  • The Dependency Lawyer’s Challenge: Being Ethical and Competent in the Face of Conflict and Change, 18th Annual San Diego Conference on Child & Family Maltreatment, January 29, 2004
  • Where Have All The Siblings Gone, How Did They Get There, and Why?, California Judicial Council’s Juvenile Court Centennial Conference, December 5, 2003
  • The Adoption and Safe Family Act, Concurrent Planning, And Sibling Association, Center for Adoption Law & Policy, Capital University Law School, Columbus, Ohio, October 20, 2003
  • The Trend of Opening Dependency Proceedings To The Press and Public, National Association Of Counsel For Children Annual Conference, New Orleans, August 14, 2003
  • Conflicts Of Interest In Representing Multiple Sibling Groups, U.C. Davis Medical School 2003
  • Post-Adoption Sibling Rights, Whittier Law School Children’s Rights Symposium: Special Needs Children and Adoption, March 22, 2003
  • Role Confusion In Representing Juvenile Clients, UCLA School of Law, February 2003
  • Paper: Conflicts of Interests In Representing Sibling Groups in Dependency Proceedings, Dependency Court Legal Services, September 25, 2002
  • Keynote Speech: The Constitution, Statutes, and Legislative Policies Regarding Siblings’ Rights, Portland Oregon State Bar Conference, February 9, 2002
  • Hot Topics In Dependency Law, Practice, Procedures, and Policies, University of California Riverside, January 12, 2002
  • The Interrelationship Among Children’s Mental Health Court, Juvenile Delinquency, Status Offenses, Child Dependency, and Adult Criminal Law, Los Angeles Mental Health Court, Dept. 95, November 8, 2001
  • Balancing Relationships and Permanency Through Adoption, National Association of Counsel for Children Conference, San Diego/Coronado, California, October 2, 2001
  • Legal Ethics in Child Dependency Law: Correct Prescription or Myopia?, Statewide Annual County Counsel Conference, Anaheim, California, October 4, 2001
  • Establishing Permanency Through Adoptions: Sibling Relationships, 7th Annual A New Beginning Conference, Los Angeles Convention Center, October 5, 2001
  • The Juvenile Crime Explosion Myth and the Bush Supreme Court, 18th Annual Los Angeles Juvenile Bar Association Training Conference, January 20, 2001
  • A Mock Dependency Hearing, 6th Annual A New Beginning Conference, November 15, 2000
  • An Analysis of Recent Changes in Child Delinquency and Dependency Law, presented at the L.A. Convention Center 5th Annual A New Beginning Conference, October 15, 1999
  • Siblings’ Association Rights in the New Millennium, National Association of Counsel for Children Conference, Portland, Oregon October 9, 1999
  • The Politics of Externships, AALS Clinical Conference, Squaw Valley, California, May 7, 1999
  • New Issues and Pending Legislation in Dependency Law, Fourth Annual Dependency Law Conference, October 22, 1998
  • Constructing An Externship Consortium, Catholic Law School, March 7, 1998
  • Externships As Providers of Tools For Attorney Satisfaction, AALS Annual Meeting, San Francisco, January 7, 1998; also a concurrent group leader for the Joint Program of Sections on Clinical Legal Education and Litigation Ethical Obligations of Children’s Counsel, Child Dependency Training Series, Los Angeles County Dependency Court, January 29, 1997
  • Conflicts of Interest in Representing Minor Clients, AALS Workshop on Clinical Legal Education, Dallas, Texas May 3-6, 1997; also a small group leader
  • Emerging Trends & Issues In Children’s Law, Second Annual Conference, A New Beginning For Partnerships For Children And Families In Los Angeles County, September 20, 1996
  • ABA Enforcement Practices Regarding Externships Under Interpretation 2 Of Standard 306, Annual Association of American Law Schools conference, at San Antonio, Texas, January 4, 1996
  • Legal Developments In Juvenile Law, First Annual Conference, A New Beginning For Partnerships For Children & Families In Los Angeles County, Sponsored by the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court and California State University, Los Angeles, September 15, 1995
  • Juvenile Clinical Externships: Preparing The Competent Juvenile Advocate In Law School, Association of American Law Schools National Clinical Law Conference, St. Louis, Missouri, May 4, 1995
  • Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, Joint Program of Sections of Family and Juvenile Law and Women in Legal Education, New Orleans, January 7, 1994
  • The Greater Los Angeles Consortium Of Externships (GLACE), Association of American Law Schools Conference on Clinical Legal Education, Newport Beach, June 5, 1994

Pro Bono Activities

  • Testified in Los Angeles Superior Court, Department 423, on proposed changes to court rules regarding confidentiality in juvenile court proceedings, January 30, 2012;
  • Amicus Curiae brief in the California Court of Appeal in Law Office of Alex Iglesias, A Law Firm of Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Sitting As A Juvenile Court, January 2012 [writ to prevent disclosure of confidential information concerning abused children];
  • In re Ethan C., California Supreme Court No. S-187587, Amicus Curiae Brief, August 31, 2011);
  • In re L.L., California Supreme Court No. S-190230, Amicus Curiae Brief, August 18, 2011);
  • A Response to the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s Analysis of Open Dependency Courts: “Options for Improving Outcomes for Foster Children By Increasing the Effectiveness of Dependency Hearings: An Oversight Hearing of the Assembly Judiciary Committee (March 1, 2011);
  • AB 73: An Economic Rebuttal To The Assembly Judiciary Committee’s Finding That A 4-Year Open Dependency Court Pilot Project Will Not Require Significant State Funding (April 3, 2011);
  • Confidentiality Concerns Regarding AB 73 (Legislative Analysis prepared for the California Assembly Committee on Human Services, April 6, 2011);
  • Opposition to Los Angeles Superior Court Blanket Order Regarding Confidentiality of Juvenile Court Records and Proceedings (November 21, 2011);
  • An Analysis of the Connecticut Juvenile Access Pilot Program, HB No. 6419, (pp 1-46) (September 28, 2010);
  • Letter to the Editor, L. A. Daily Journal, Lowering Degree of Certainty in Burden of Proof Not Necessarily in Children’s Best Interest, September 2, 2010, at 7;
  • Analysis of Amercian Bar Association Standards Review Committee Proposed Standards 301-305 regarding outcome measures and assessments of law school pedagogy, January 21, 2010;
  • Letter to the Editor, L. A. Daily Journal, Minor’s Counsel Necessary for Explosion of Pro Se Parties, in response to Fred Silberberg, The Problem of Minor’s Counsel, L.A.D. J., September 18, 2009, at 7;
  • Legislative analysis of Connecticut Proposed Amendment LCO No. 7314 [juvenile pilot project], filed at the request of the Connecticut State Child Advocate Office (May 20, 2009);
  • Legislative analysis of Connecticut proposed Bill No. 6419 [transparency and accountability of the department of children and families] (February 12, 2009);
  • Legislative analysis of Connecticut proposed Bill No. 5320 [presumptively open juvenile dependency proceedings] (Februrary 3, 2009).
  • Legislative analysis of Georgia proposed Bill No. HB 616 [modifying confidentiality rules in juvenile court (March 11, 2009)
  • Amicus Curiae Letter In Support of California Supreme Court Review in In re Kristen B., 163 Cal. App. 4th 1535 (4th Dist. Div. 1) (July 28, 2008)
  • Request for Depublication in In re Kristen B., supra. (July 21, 2008)
  • Legislative analysis of Kentucky HR 421 [open juvenile dependency proceedings] (February 5, 2008)
  • Amicus Curiae brief filed in the California Supreme Court in In re Charlisse C., Supreme Court No. S152822 (August 2007) [conflicts of interest in the successive representation of abused children]
  • Legislative analysis of proposed Arizona House Bill 2024 [open dependency courts] (2006)
  • Legislative analysis of Proposed Judicial Council Rule 1438.5 regarding conflicts of interest (2005)
  • Testified as an expert witness on the child dependency system and on the pediatric psychiatric effects on child abuse victims testifying in open court, in San Mateo County v. Superior Court (2005)
  • Filed a petition for review and request for depublication in In re Andrew L., 122 Cal. App. 4th 178 (2004)
  • Filed an amicus curiae brief in the California Supreme Court in In re Josiah Z., Supreme Court No. S125822 [ethical role of children’s appellate and trial counsel]
  • Testified in the California Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to press access to child abuse cases, June 2004
  • Testified in the California State Assembly Committee on the Judiciary regarding AB 2627 (should child abuse proceedings be open to the press and public?), April 11, 2004
  • Filed an amicus curiae brief in In re S. B., Supreme Court No. S112260 on April 7, 2003 [can a trial court delegate issue of parental visitation to a guardian in a guardianship?]
  • Oral arguments and a_micus curiae_ briefs in the California Supreme Court in In re Zeth S. (Calif. Supreme Court #S099557) and in In re Celine R. (Calif. Supreme Court #S111138) [legal representation of siblings] (May 2003)
  • Legislative analysis of proposed California Rules of Court, Rule 1448 [role of CASA/GAL and attorneys representing abused children filed with the Judicial Council of California] (2002)
  • Original Petition for Writ Relief in Whittier Law School’s Legal Policy Clinic and Center For Children’s Rights v. Attorney General of the State of California, filed in the California Supreme Court, September 17, 2001
  • Amicus curiae brief in Butler v. Harris; D036144 (2001) [is the California grandparent visitation statute constitutional after the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Troxell v. Granville?]
  • Amicus curiae brief in In re Lucero L., 96 Cal. Rptr. 2d 56 (2000) [determined the ambit of the child abuse hearsay exception in California]
  • Petition for Review in In re Paul C., 72 Cal. Rptr. 2d 369 [dealt with whether a trial court had discretion to review the Department’s post-termination child placement pending adoption]
  • Position paper used by the National Association of Social Workers and several children’s organizations in defeating SB 1391 which would have opened California dependency courts to the press and public
  • Position paper for the Northern California ACLU regarding California Assembly Bill 1447 (Granlund) which would have provided substantial changes to the California Child Abuse Central Index system which maintains data on suspected child abusers and victims
  • Testified, by Invitation by California Senator Adam B. Schiff, Chair of the State Senate Select Committee on Juvenile Justice, in two Senate hearings: (1) “Confidentiality In The Juvenile Court” on May 21, 1999; and, (2) “The Right of Abused or Neglected Children to Legal Representation in Dependency Court” on December 8, 1999.