The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) announced the Jackson County Pro Bono Attorneys or “Pro Bonos” as the Impact of the Year Award recipient during the 7th annual Justice Innovation Awards ceremony at the NCJFCJ’s 84th Annual Conference. This group of exemplary attorneys was honored for their work to innovatively rethink, reimagine, and redefine justice for children and families, thus advancing the NCJFCJ’s vision—a society in which every family and child has access to fair, equal, effective, and timely justice.
The Impact of the Year Award recognizes, from the Annual Conference-host state, an individual, state/local court, law firm, advocacy group, or service provider who has been instrumental in leading or implementing significant improvements or innovations which advance the mission of the NCJFCJ in any of the following ways: Practice improvements implemented state or jurisdiction-wide; state/local legislation or other regulatory improvements; unique state/local court programs or services; courtroom management and/or technology; and/or extraordinary efforts in pro bono work.
The Jackson County Pro Bono Attorneys consists of law professionals who practice within or work for law firms or legal departments and represent family members in Jackson County Family Court. The attorneys have an average of more than 15 years experience in the juvenile justice field, and bring to their clients the resources and skills necessary to best serve the children and families they represent.
“This group of attorneys does an amazing job in working with clients who often are found to be in a challenging or crisis situation regarding their children,” said Lori Stipp, juvenile officer for the Jackson County Family Court. “These attorneys provide legal advocacy along with substantial emotional support for their clients while working through the reunification process with their children. While the cases for many areas of the legal system slowed down this year, the cases involving families did not let up and perhaps demanded even more attention and compassion from legal counsel. We are extremely fortunate to have such dedicated advocates in these difficult cases.”
The “Pro Bonos” include:
Laura Higgins Tyler – Stinson LLP
Sandy Wirtel – Spencer Fane LLP
Laurie Snell – Attorney at Law
Teresa Anderson – Polsinelli PC
Marina Bell – Polsinelli PC
Megan Roth – Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP
David Suroff – Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP
Anna Maria Merritt – Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP
Daniel Berezoski – Husch Blackwell LLP
Kole Masters – Attorney at Law
Commissioner Katie Rooney
Kate Nolen – Lathrop GPM LLP
Kelle Burmeister Gilmore – Burmeister Gilmore LLP
“We are proud to honor the work and dedication of this unique group of lawyers who provide skilled representation to children and families who seek justice,” said Judge Hiram Puig-Lugo, NCJFCJ president. “The COVID-19 pandemic year created many obstacles. Not only did the Jackson County Pro Bono Attorneys continue to offer the necessary right to counsel in juvenile proceedings and in actions for the termination of parental rights, but they also continued to compassionately advocate for their clients by helping them receive much-needed resources and services through a challenging time.”
The NCJFCJ also honored Judge David King of the New Hampshire Circuit Court as the Innovator of the Year Award recipient for his leadership, inspiration, and solutions to effectively serve children and families with access to justice.