What do you do in your current role?
As a child advocacy attorney, I am appointed to serve as guardian ad litem for children in St. Louis City foster care. In this role, I advocate for their best interests both in court and in the community. My advocacy focuses on all aspects of the child. I work with a multidisciplinary team from various community partners to ensure that all the child’s needs are being met while the child is in foster care. These needs include: physical and mental health needs, educational needs, helping the child to maintain family connections and permanency planning. I also serve as the voice of the child, and it is my responsibility to ensure that the court is aware of the child’s wishes even if they differ from what I believe to be in the child’s best interests. I also have the privilege of supervising CASA Advocates. CASA Advocates are highly trained community volunteers who are appointed to the case of a child or sibling group in foster care. They are charged with visiting the child at least monthly, gathering information about the child’s situation from anyone who may have a relationship with the child such as teachers, doctors and family members, and reporting to the court about the child’s well-being and making recommendations as to what is in the child’s best interests.
What is something that SLU LAW does right in order to prepare students for success on the job market?
SLU LAW works hard to prepare students for success on the job market. First, it has a great career services department that works to make sure students have the tools they need to write impressive resumes, be prepared for interviews and know what to do to impress employers. Further, in classes there is a strong emphasis on legal research and writing, so students graduate with the skills they need to be successful during their first year of practice. Additionally, there are plenty of practical skills classes and clinic opportunities that provide hands on experience that translates into real world practice.
What was your most valuable experience at SLU LAW and how has this experience helped you in your career path?
My most valuable experience at SLU LAW was working in the Civil Advocacy Clinic. That experience helped me to recognize that I really wanted to dedicate my career to public interest work. It also helped me gain confidence in myself and my ability to affect meaningful change for our clients.
What advice would you give to students beginning their legal career at SLU LAW?
When you start law school, you will get a lot of advice about what you should do in order to be successful. A lot of it is helpful, and some of it is not. The most important thing to remember is that you know yourself and your abilities better than anyone else, so follow the advice that works for you. Take classes that interest you, and take advantage of the clinic opportunities. They are a great way to gain experience and learn about where you fit in the legal field upon graduation.