National Center for Youth Law

At the Center

NCYL’s Founding Timeline
As told by NCYL Founder Tom Smegal

“I was fortunate to be one of the founding members of NCYL. At the time—in the 1960s—I was a Board Member at the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco. Several Legal Aid Board Members and I saw the need and opportunity to create an organization specifically focused on providing legal aid to youth and families, so we created a non-profit called Youth Law Center (YLC). 

In 1984, I was nominated by President Regan and confirmed by the US Senate to serve on the board of the Legal Services Corporation, which recognized the need for a national support center focused specifically on children.

Given the expertise of people at YLC, I knew they would be a great fit.  

YLC applied to become a support center, as did the St. Louis-based non-profit National Juvenile Law Center. The Legal Services Corporation encouraged these two organizations to merge and together, they formed the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL). For NCYL’s first 15 years, I had the honor of serving as the first Board Chair, helping to chart a path for the organization.”