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Events & CLE

Doing the Work Long-Term: Resources for Confronting Compassion Fatigue

Learn how to protect your emotions and mental health while working on traumatic child rights cases.


Addressing Compassion Fatigue: An Ethical Mandate (90-minute teleconference)
Working with clients in trauma can impact lawyers who represent children in the child welfare system, both personally and professionally. Prolonged or repeated exposure to the abuse and neglect suffered by child victims can result in an acute form of burnout called compassion fatigue. However, child lawyers, unlike other helping professionals, rarely have language for this loss of capacity nor support systems in place to combat it. Large caseloads, inadequate resources and systems that sometimes re-victimize instead of rehabilitate, leave practitioners feeling ineffective, incompetent and lacking compassion. These conditions compromise the child lawyer’s ethical duty to provide competent representation. Speakers focus on preventative and responsive strategies for solo practitioners, agency lawyers and leaders who manage child lawyers, as well as the ethical implications of compassion fatigue on child representation.

Trenny Stovall, Esq., DeKalb County Child Advocacy Center, Decatur, GA (moderator); Alexandra Dolan, MSS, LSW, Support Center for Child Advocates, Philadelphia, PA; Josh Spitalnick, PhD, ABPP, Adjunct Asst. Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University SOM, Atlanta, GA; Françoise Mathieu, M.Ed., CCC., Co-Executive Director, TEND, Kingston, Ontario, Canada; Danielle Lynch, Esq., Supervising Attorney, DeKalb Child Advocacy Center, Decatur, GA


The Hidden Cost of Empathy: How to Address Secondary Trauma Stress in a Child Law Office (article)
By Tamara Steckler and Vicki E. Light – January 9, 2017
The empathy that brings people to direct service legal work also causes them to be deeply affected by their clients’ personal traumas.

Tips for Young Lawyers: How to Avoid Burnout as a Children's Lawyer (article)
By Cathy Krebs – January 9, 2017
Addressing compassion fatigue is essential to providing ethical and zealous legal representation of children.

Compassion Fatigue: Caveat Caregiver? (article)
By Jennifer Baum – January 13, 2016
Identify, prevent, and treat the stress that arises from child welfare professionals' constant exposure to the trauma of children.