chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
June 10, 2024

Meet Jessica Brock, Senior Attorney/Chief Counsel

The PDF which includes endnotes and footnotes in which this article appears can be found in Bifocal Vol. 45 Issue5.

Bifocal: Tell us a little bit about your career and the issues you’ve been working on for the past few years.

Jessica: Prior to joining the ABA, I directed the LAVA (Legal Assistance for Victimized Adults) Project at Indiana Legal Services.  The LAVA Project provides free, civil legal assistance to older adults and endangered adults who experience abuse, neglect, or exploitation.  I represented many crime victims in civil suits to stop criminal behavior and to recover from the effects of the criminal behavior.  I was a generalist and litigated often.  I also had the great privilege of working with a diverse group of community partners and of learning how important it is for a team of professionals to address abuse in later life in a thoughtful way. We had community partnerships with professionals in many sectors like law enforcement, adult protective services, financial institutions, area agencies on aging, and disability rights.  My experience representing survivors of elder abuse and in defending against unnecessary or overreaching guardianships will greatly inform my work at the ABA.  My clients’ stories will remain with me and guide my work.

Bifocal: Is this what you planned when you started Law School?

Jessica: Yes and no.  How’s that for a lawyer answer?  I went to law school thinking it would be like taking a foreign language.  Instead of learning Spanish, I would be studying “legalese.”  I was living in Kyarusozi, Uganda before applying to law school and was concerned about the land rights of the community.  I wanted to be able to advocate for people losing their land to giant corporations and defend against other human rights abuses.  I figured going to law school would help ensure I had a seat at the table in these conversations and would help me understand and speak about the law in policy conversations.  I had no intention of practicing law, and honestly, I didn’t know what practicing law looked like.

I got my J.D. and then my LL.M. in international human rights law.  I planned to work with the United Nations or some forum applying international treaties.  My 1L summer I worked at the Notre Dame Legal Aid Clinic, and I discovered what it meant to practice law and to do so with colleagues interested in the defense of the vulnerable.  I soon came to realize that representing the vulnerable at home is what international human rights law looks like at the local level, and certainly my work at Indiana Legal Services with the LAVA Project was human rights work.  So, this wasn’t the picture I had when I started to law school, but the idea has remained the same – ensuring just systems govern our communities and defending basic human rights.

Bifocal: What has been the highlight of your career? 

Jessica: As an attorney, I have met people in some of their lowest moments, and they have shared with me some of the most intimate (and probably embarrassing) parts of their lives.  People generally didn’t call me because they were having a good day.  I don’t think that my clients would have chosen to share the intimate details of their life with a stranger like me, and I assume that most share out of necessity – I have to tell you this so I can get help.  I don’t take that trust or privilege lightly.  The attorney-client relationship is sacred – being entrusted with people’s lives.  I am humbled to be trusted by my clients with their lives, and some of those lives we literally saved.  I can hardly think of a greater gift.

Bifocal: What interested you about this position with the Commission on Law and Aging?

Jessica: Justice is a core value for me, and systemic injustice angers me.  I welcomed the opportunity to work for the rights of older adults with the Commission on Law and Aging, and I am honored to join the long history of great advocacy for older adults done by the Commission.  I see working with the Commission on Law and Aging as an opportunity to bring my experience as a litigator representing older adults to the service of informing national policy and best practices.  I am grateful to have the privilege of working on law and aging at a national level, while being informed by and remembering how that impacts the local level.

Bifocal: What project(s) are you most excited about getting into?

Jessica: I am excited about all of it.  I truly believe that a comprehensive network of systems and services that support the autonomy and dignity of older adults is needed to prevent abuse in later life and to afford older adults the opportunity to age in place.  Each project is a door into part of that web of support.  I am most interested in initiatives that bring about systemic change, that change the way we talk about aging and older adults, and that make our communities more supportive of people aging in place.

Bifocal: Outside of work, are there any other hobbies or interests that you are passionate about that you’d like to share with us?

Jessica: I am a proud Kansan and love the Flint Hills.  I enjoy watching Kansas men’s basketball, and I am a long-time season ticket holder for the Notre Dame women’s basketball team.  The Irish are so fun to watch, and I think this season is going to be out of this world amazing.  I love making music.  I play clarinet in my church choir, and I write music with my music partner.  I also love the outdoors.  I enjoy time playing in the dirt and experiencing the world around me.  And if these things can be done with family and dear friends, all the better.

Join us in welcoming Jessica!