Fearless Children's Lawyer of the Month

Every day, lawyers across the United States represent children in a variety of legal matters including education, child welfare, juvenile justice, and immigration cases. This representation is exceedingly challenging and mostly goes unrecognized. This series will celebrate work from advocacy that results in a system wide change to advocacy that improved the life of one child client. To nominate a lawyer for this series, please contact cathy.krebs@americanbar.org.

April 2021—Kristen Jackson

Kristen Jackson is a senior attorney at Public Counsel in Los Angeles, California, where she represents immigrant children in state and federal proceedings to protect procedural rights and obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and asylum. Whether representing individual clients at the trial or appellate level, or litigating national class actions, Kristen brings a defense-minded perspective to her work.

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March 2021—Joanna Visser Adjoian and Lauren Fine

Joanna Visser Adjoian and Lauren Fine met when they were just starting out as lawyers in Philadelphia, working with a family organizing group made up of individuals whose loved ones were sentenced as children to life in prison without the possibility of parole. On long road trips to meet with juvenile lifers, they hatched the idea for what would become the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project. Now seven years later, they have a staff of 10 who zealously work with their client-partners to keep children out of adult jails and prisons, and to bring home juvenile lifers.

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February 2021—Maria Griglio

Maria Griglio been a leading force in changing the perspective on child sex trafficking victim and creating a safe space for advocating for the rights and well-being of these children in Los Angeles County. As a founding member and lead county counsel in the DREAM Court, Maria represents the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and has helped to establish a collaborative courtroom dedicated to addressing the unique legal and support needs of sexually exploited children.

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January 2021—Rhea Yo

Rhea Yo believes attorneys for young people must exemplify fearless humility in a traditionally pretentious profession. “No amount of education and experience makes me an expert in the lives of my clients.”

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December 2020—Tyrone Hanley

When first approached for this feature, Tyrone Hanley hesitated. He had not thought of himself as a “children’s lawyer.” Tyrone’s work at the National Center for Lesbian Rights focuses on ending the criminalization of queer and trans sexuality and LGBTQ poverty, but this anti-poverty work has addressed core issues facing youth.

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November 2020—Robert Latham

Robert Latham challenges the notion that he, or anyone who advocates for children for that matter, can truly be fearless. Because in a society that always sides with the adults, it can be challenging to look another adult in the eye and say, “I’m siding with the kid.” “To do that," he added, "you either have to be very brave or very stupid.” He sees his child clients as the really fearless ones, and he’s just doing his best to make sure their voices are heard.

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October 2020—Anissa Patton

Anissa Patton practices in Georgia, which does not have agency policy or practice guidance on how caseworkers and other service providers should affirm and support LGBTQ youth (or even basic nondiscrimination law or policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity). She has fought tirelessly to ensure the trans clients’ identities are respected and their needs are met, including access to life-saving health care.

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September 2020—Abre' Conner

“How do we make sure there is equity in the education system?” That is the question Abre' Conner puts forth. When in law school, Abre' was able to stop and take critical stock of some of her previous educational experiences. She looked back and saw too many times where an inequitable and inadequate education system failed her. Now, as a staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, she is the one students in the Central Valley of California can call for help and to make a change.

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August 2020—Lynn Vogan

Lynn Vogan is a staff attorney at the Youth Law Center in Des Moines, Iowa. The Youth Law Center represents children and youth in child welfare and delinquency proceedings in Polk County, Iowa, and is one of the leading child advocacy programs in the state of Iowa. In addition to Lynn’s work representing young people in a variety of kinds of cases, she also serves as the juvenile defense attorney in Polk County’s Girls’ Court Program, Too Good to Lose.

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July 2020—Marion Donovan-Kaloust

Marion (“Mickey”) Donovan-Kaloust is the directing attorney at the Immigrant Defenders Law Center’s Riverside, California, office. ImmDef defends immigrant communities against injustices in the immigration court system and is leading the fight for the right to counsel in deportation proceedings.

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June 2020—Atteeyah Hollie

Atteeyah Hollie is a senior attorney at the Southern Center for Human Rights, whose mission is achieving equality, dignity, and justice for people impacted by the criminal legal system in the Deep South. She has litigated cases challenging the denial of the right to counsel for children and poor Georgians, illegally closed courtrooms, inhumane prison conditions, and the denial of utility services because of court debt and is a leader in the battle to end extreme sentences for nonviolent drug offenses in Georgia.

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May 2020—Cristina Law Merriman

For five years, Cristina Law Merriman has been a fearless lawyer at Chicago’s Lawndale Christian Legal Center, a unique organization that provides both minors and emerging adults with holistic, community-based legal services. The organization is based in the Lawndale community on Chicago’s Southwest side and works to meet the needs of justice-involved youth in order to keep them in the community with support, education, and employment instead of felony records or in prisons.

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April 2020—Daniel Rosenberg

Daniel Rosenberg is the senior attorney in the County of Imperial, California, area assigned to represent children who are victims of abuse and neglect and who are active in the juvenile dependency or foster care system. Representation is provided through a specialized child advocacy unit in the County Public Defender's Office.

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March 2020—Claire Bazata

Claire Bazata, our first Fearless Children's Lawyer of the Month, hails from a small town in Nebraska where her clients include youth and children for whom she is appointed counsel by the juvenile courts. Claire began her path toward child advocacy at Health and Human Services where she worked as an investigator and an ongoing caseworker for abuse and neglect cases. She has also worked in a group home for youth with developmental disabilities both doing direct care for youth and then also managing a group home.

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